We drove down to the States to take the thousand islands cruise starting from Alexandria Bay, NY.
(Thousand Island Bridge links between the U.S. and Canada)
We could have taken a Canadian cruise, but the price was more than double in Canada. It's true that we would have more "restaurant" style lunch with a Canadian cruise and less people, but still it was too expensive.
The main purpose of the cruise was sightseeing rather than luncheon buffet. The Uncle Sam cruise started at 12:30. We left around 10 and arrived about an hour early :( and the small town of Alexandria bay was already full of tourists. I don't know why I haven't realized, even when I read about it, that 1000 islands were such big touristic attractions. I'll quote the information about the 1000 islands from Wikipedia:
"The Thousand Islands constitute an archipelago of 1,864 islands that straddles the Canada-U.S. border in the Saint Lawrence River as it emerges from the northeast corner of Lake Ontario.
(Small church at the Canadian border)
They stretch for about 50 miles (80 km) downstream from Kingston, Ontario. The Canadian islands are in the province of Ontario, the U.S. islands in the state of New York.
The 1,864 islands range in size from over 40 square miles (100 km2) to smaller islands occupied by a single residence, or uninhabited outcroppings of rocks that are only home to migratory waterfowl. To count as one of the Thousand Islands these minimum criteria had to be met: 1) Above water level year round; 2) Have an area greater than 1 square foot (0.093 m2); and 3) Support at least one living tree."
I was wondering what was the criteria to become an island of the "Thousand Islands" and glad to know that there are the clear criteria for that! If you want to read more about the Thousand Islands, you can read at Wikipedia site as linked here.
While waiting for the cruise time, we had ice cream on a bench on the main street. As it was a very hot day already before 12, ice cream started to melt down pretty quickly. Nonetheless, it was fun watching people and dogs while enjoying melting ice cream :)
When we arrived at the end of the queue, I'm pretty sure there were at least 200 people ahead of us. Mr. D started to worry how we will eat if all these people were cramming into the first floor deck where food would be served.
Thankfully, there were only a limited number of passengers who purchased the luncheon cruise so that the first floor was not too busy.
The cruise was $34/person, including small lunch buffet and hot/cold beverage.
Kids ate well, and so did we.
I like both, but if I have to choose only one between nature/sightseeing and art/history, my personal preference is heavily on art/history. That is why I love Europe so much, where I can see and learn so much about the story of the past or history. Don't get me wrong. I love the nature, too. Just my preference is human's story. The Thousand Islands are a site of superb scenic beauty. To categorize the Thousand Islands, they are definitely nature lovers' field even though there were a couple of interesting modern histories around beautiful castles(mansions), including that of Boldt castle we visited.
The personal story of George Boldt who had commissioned the construction of the Boldt Castle on Hart Island was quite extraordinary. The self-made millionaire who emigrated to the U.S. from Prussia, at the age of 13!!! started his career as a bus boy(kitchen worker) at a restaurant. He became a manager of the dining room of Philadelphia's most exclusive gentlemen's club, at the age of 25. Then he found the investors to sponsor him to build hotels. He married Louise Augusta Kehrer, daughter of his boss, who was 8 years his junior.(you can read more about George Boldt here)
He commissioned a castle with 126 rooms, for his wife, on Hart island, but the castle was never completed because it was halted when Louise passed away unexpectedly.
It was kind of sad to see such a beautiful castle never completed. The rooms were filled with furniture as of 2011, but those are modern furniture. In spite of the grandeur of the castle, it didn't really appeal to me because the building has never been inhabited. There was also an indoor swimming pool where nobody had ever swum. The bottom of the pool was covered with thousands of coins.
The garden was huge and well designed, too.
(Boat house of Boldt Castle)
My favorite piece of architecture in that huge building was the grand staircase.
It was absolutely beautiful.
As the 1000 islands are run and regulated by both Ontario and New York governments, the nature and scenery were extraordinary. It's definitely worth visiting, especially on a sunny day with some nice breeze.
We had a great time on the boat and the Boldt castle!
Thousand Island Cruise