On Celebrating 30 Years

If only our boats could talk, the stories they could tell of couples who met and fell in love, young students who came on a class trip, a corporate milestone celebrated onboard…they could boast about hosting dignitaries, sports legends, Stanley Cups, celebrities & movie shoots. There are stories of birthday parties, bar mitzvahs, company events, proposals and weddings. There are stories from so many who came to us from all around the world and visited our city of Toronto.  Over the last 30 years, our fleet has welcomed over 3 million guests and while our boats can’t speak, they do tell our story.

It all started with the Mariposa Belle…

The namesake of our company, the Mariposa Belle was then the largest passenger vessel in Toronto Harbour when Mariposa Cruises acquired the legendary paddle wheeler in 1987. This is when the company, Mariposa Cruise Line was first launched, along with the two other boats, The Rosemary and The Torontonian.

Toronto’s waterfront was just starting evolve with the newly renovated Queens Quay Terminal Building (1983), then a mecca for one of a kind artisan shops and food experiences.  There was a smattering of wharfs and marinas, and only a few condominium towers. Harbourfront Centre was operating as the Harbourfront Corporation and one could see The Royal York Hotel’s neon lettering from the dock. The LRT was yet to launch, and yet people came to the waterfront to beat the summer heat, spend a day shopping in Queens Quay, buy the kids an ice cream and hop on the Mariposa Belle for harbour cruise. The Mariposa Belle launched Mariposa Cruises and played host of many, many celebrations until her retirement from Mariposa’s fleet in 2013.

The Originals

The yacht Rosemary has been with Mariposa Cruises since our inception. A true southern belle, normally a lady doesn’t like to divulge her age, that being said, the Rosemary was built in Mobile, Alabama in 1960 as a private yacht, complete with overnight bunks. Operated for years as a private pleasure craft, The Rosemary was transformed into a passenger vessel, at one time Transport Canada approved for 75 guests. Fully refurbished in 2008, she is our smallest in the fleet, but loved by so many for her timeless interior and the ability to host smaller groups and intimate occasions.  But don’t judge her by her size, The Rosie boasts an impressive list of voyages for celebrities (whose privacy we respect) and notable events over the years.

Another Mariposa original was The Torontonian (175 pax), who, like The Rosemary, was part of our operation when the company acquired The Mariposa Belle. One of the original party boats in Toronto, and before boats were regulated by the ACGO, guests could bring their own alcohol onboard.  The Torontonian hosted hundreds of parties and later became the student cruise boat of choice. In 2006, a local graffiti artist was contracted to transform her exterior with a butterfly mural in reference to  ‘Mariposa’ (Spanish for Butterfly).  The Torontonian was retired from the Mariposa fleet in 2010.

Things got interesting….

The Captain Matthew Flinders made its way to Toronto in 1989 to join the Mariposa fleet. The ship continues to be the largest passenger vessel in Toronto and was welcomed by the Mayor at the time. This majestic ship was built in Port Adelaide (1986) and bears the name of the Australian explorer who was the first to circumnavigate and identify the Australian continent.  As an ocean going ship, The Flinders is sturdy but she’s not very fast, sailing at a speed of only 30km per hour. The voyage from Australia to Toronto took four months!  Cruising on the Flinders is a special experience.  With two interior decks, a massive split-level outer deck, stairwells and long promenade decks running from bow to stern, you get a true sense of being on a classic ocean liner. Among the thousands of Flinders’ notable voyages, it boasts a colorful stint as a casino boat off of West Palm Beach Florida; cruises to Niagara-on-the-Lake and Hamilton. The Captain Matthew Flinders has hosted G7, Mayors from Around the World, Arnold Palmer, the Baseball All Stars, and some of the most exclusive affairs hosted in Toronto.

The Additions 

In 1992, Mariposa Cruises completed the acquisition of two additional ships, The Oriole, (200 pax) and The Northern Spirit (600 pax), which increased the Mariposa fleet capacity by 60%. The Oriole, a Victorian era steamship replica built in Port Dover, Ontario, has hosted voyages for hundreds of thousands of passengers on private charters and daily Harbour Tours.  Her old-world charm has established her as a favourite in Toronto and her green and ivory exterior is easily visible as she cruises along with sailboats, salties, lakers, canoes, water taxis and ferries that sail along the city’s harbour. Passengers from all over the world have boarded The Oriole on the sightseeing harbour tours, to take in skyline and scenery along the harbour. The Oriole hosts the only multi-lingual Scenic Harbour tour in Toronto, offering narrations in English, French, Spanish, Mandarin, German and Japanese.  One of the Oriole’s most memorable voyages was in 1988, when she hosted Mila Mulroney, Nancy Reagan, and the wives of G7 attendees for a private afternoon charter.

The Northern Spirit came as the Spirit of Norfolk and was renamed The Pride of Toronto. When Mariposa Cruises purchased her, she underwent extensive renovations and was rebranded as The Northern Spirit. The Spirit has hosted some amazing corporate events, including a spectacular city wide conference special event for 1000 guests, co-hosted by the adjacent Flinders. The event featured an outdoor tent the length of the Northern Spirit, an ice-luge on the dock, a steady flow of hors d’ouevres, food stations named after the streets that represented the different cultural districts in Toronto, and performers from Cavalia Odysseo performing acrobatics on the dock. Along with The Captain Matthew Flinders, The Northern Spirit is one of the largest passenger vessels in the harbour and a favourite among our Captains to navigate because she handles so well. Perfectly designed for hosting large events, the Northern Spirit has twin engines, an open concept interior and lots of open deck space to enjoy the views of Toronto’s skyline.

And then there were seven!

The Showboat joined the Mariposa Fleet in 1993. Originally build as a dinner theatre venue, The Showboat featured a stage and large dining room. In 2013, The Showboat went under an extensive renovation, which included being cut in half with twelve feet added to the centre.  This increased the passenger capacity from 89 to 149 onboard.  The Showboat continues to be a popular wedding venue choice, with large dance floor and big picture windows in the dining salon, it is easy to understand why. As we celebrate our 30th Anniversary and Canada’s 150th, we share two of Showboat’s most memorable Canadian moments. On Canada Day in 2015 The Showboat hosted the Stanley Cup on a private event organized by NHL champion Brian Bickell of the Chicago Blackhawks.

One event that has remained with us is a reunion of Vietnamese who faced great hardship and personal loss to escape Vietnam in the 80’s. They all came from the same 8 block area of Hanoi, and dispersed across the globe, with many finally choosing to settle in Canada. Two decades later, with the help of the internet, they found each other again and planned a reunion on the Showboat.  The emotion of that cruise was overwhelming, a mix of sorrow for the horrors they remembered, and unspeakable joy at being reunited again after years.

Our Captain was humbled to be part of such a joyous occasion. “It was something to behold. And the fact that Canada opened its doors to many of them, and that they all did so well over the years in spite of all the hardship, with two or three generations on board sharing in the experience- it was such a wonderful celebration and a proud moment for all of us.”

Last, but not least …

The Klancy sailed to Toronto from St. Thomas and joined our fleet in 2011.  The name comes from incorporating the two names of the original owners. The Klancy has hosted a variety of weddings, VIP events and is the perfect size for sailing around the islands and lagoons. She is the vessel of choice for Mariposa Cruises’ annual company picnic. The cruise hospitality industry is hard work, particularly challenging because we run a seasonal operation.  Boats need care and maintenance. Our crew works tirelessly and in all weather conditions. During peak season, we can host up to 3000 passengers a day. With so many moving parts to our business,  and specialists in their field, Sales, Reservations, Hospitality, Events, Accounting, Operations to our Officers and Marine Engineers–we are really a team of teams working collectively to bring our guests the best cruise experience possible. Our cruising season continues until New Year’s Eve, but around Labour Day, the Mariposa crew boards the Klancy and heads to the islands for a BBQ. We celebrate our accomplishments and say farewell to some of our seasonal team members.

Today, the Mariposa Cruises fleet consists of six of the most beautiful boats in the harbour. We take pride in the events we have hosted, the people we have met, and the crew we have had the pleasure of working with. Thank you, Toronto. It’s been an honour to have hosted experiences for the millions who have come aboard our vessels and to share our view of this wonderful city.

A very special thanks to our team over the years. The Mariposa crew are a special lot and their dedication and amazing talent has contributed to Mariposa Cruise’s success over 30 years.

Happy 150th Canada!

 


Introducing 3D Virtual Tours! Take a tour of our fleet.

ALOHA SAILOR! Enjoying a Hawaiian Luau on the Toronto Harbour

Mariposa Cruises’ guest Michele Aristide recounts her experience aboard the Northern Spirit for the Hawaiian Luau Dinner Cruise on the Toronto Harbour..


Hawaiian Luau Dinner Cruise

After a long and difficult week, my husband and I went aboard the Northern Spirit in hopes of some R&R.

We were immediately greeted by a very cheerful Manager, Allison, who welcomed us aboard. Once on the ship, the soothing music of Hawaii and a lovely young female dancer attracted our eyes and slowed us down from our fast paced march of the work week. Her slow and ethereal movements immediately made us feel like we just entered an environment that would give us just that, a nice relaxing evening.

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Retro fun on the Toronto Harbour

Mariposa Cruises’ guest Luisa Fracassi recounts her experience aboard the Northern Spirit for the 80’s & 90’s Retro Dinner Cruise on the Toronto Harbour.


80s & 90s Retro Dinner Cruise

The Northern Spirit departed Habourfront a few minutes after 7. It was a sunny 23 degrees and my friend and I wanted to enjoy the weather on the boat’s large open upper deck. The theme of the night’s cruise was 80s and 90s retro. A handful of guests dressed in costume, myself included, imagine a splash of neon and acid wash jeans amongst a crowd dressed in smart casual attire.

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Best Salsa Party In Toronto

Mariposa Cruises’ guest Maiby Davison retells her experience aboard the Northern Spirit for the Salsa in Toronto Cruise Night on the Toronto Harbour.


Salsa in Toronto Cruise Night

If you like Latin music this is definitely your party!!! You get it all!!

I decided to celebrate summer my way!!! So I went to the Harbourfront (the most beautiful area in Toronto) and of course went on a Mariposa Cruise! I found the perfect cruise for me and all my people that love Latin music: the Salsa in Toronto Cruise Nights Cruise, part of the Salsa in Toronto Festival Week.

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A New Years Eve celebration on Toronto’s Harbour

New Years Eve Cruises with Mariposa CruisesThere’s no better way to leave 2015 behind than aboard one of the largest ships in Toronto by ringing in the New Year with Mariposa Cruises on the Toronto Harbour.

For 28 years, Mariposa Cruises has been cruising Toronto’s harbour and capping off each season with a magical New Years Eve Cruise. The New Years Eve Cruise marks the end of the cruising season on the Toronto Harbour until April, when operations start up once again for another busy season of cruising.

This year Mariposa Cruises is offering two different New Years Eve cruises to choose from, the traditional New Years Eve Gala Dinner Cruise and the latest addition, the New Years Eve Cocktail Cruise aboard the Northern Spirit.

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Santa Claus is coming to Winterfest!

Winterfest 2015It’s the most wonderful time of the year again! And while Santa and his elves are gearing up for their busiest night of the year, they are looking forward to returning to Santa’s favorite ship for a relaxing cruise along Toronto’s waterfront with all the boys and girls.

Rather than taking the kids to the nearest mall to have their photo taken with Santa, why not make seeing Santa a unique excursion that the whole family can enjoy?

One of the nicest places to enjoy a family outing is on board the Northern Spirit during The Waterfront BIA’s annual Winterfest on Toronto’s Waterfront presented by the Ports Toronto this holiday season from Friday December 18 to Sunday December 20.

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Celebrate National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day on the Toronto Harbour

Mariposa Cruises Ugly Christmas Sweater Cocktail CruiseFor Torontonians who want to show off their ugly Christmas sweaters, there’s no greater day than National Ugly Christmas Sweater day on December 18th and no better place than aboard Mariposa Cruises’ Ugly Christmas Sweater Cocktail Cruise.

Started in 2011, National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day is traditionally celebrated on the third Friday of December and is an opportunity for people everywhere to wear their prized ugly Christmas sweaters throughout the entire day. National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day is the perfect occasion for Torontonians who are looking to partake in some light hearted fun during the silly season and to forget about the stresses that often accompany the lead up to the holidays.

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Toronto Date night cruising on the Northern Spirit

Mariposa Cruises’ guest Kaylin Fitzsimons recounts her Toronto date night aboard the Northern Spirit for a  Dinner Cruise on the Toronto Harbour with her boyfriend.


Northern Spirit Toronto date night

Wow, wow & wow! This was our first time on a cruise with Mariposa and it was amazing. We are often near the waterfront and see the beautiful lake sparkling in the sun. We have always talked about going on a dinner boat cruise and finally one day we planned it and boy are we glad we did!

Our fingers were crossed that it would be a mild, dry and warm summer evening. Luckily we got just that. We boarded the Northern Spirit Cruise ship from the Queens Quay port and we were in such awe with the size of the ship up close. We were greeted by the Captains and friendly staff when we arrived and entered the white doors to the main dining room and bar area.

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Raise a stein to an Oktoberfest celebration on the Toronto Harbour

Mariposa CruisesOktoberfest Cruise on the Northern Spirit will be bringing more oomph aboard their annual Oktoberfest Cruise as they transform the Northern Spirit into a floating festhallen, complete with Steam Whistle beer garden on top of the largest outer deck in the Toronto Harbour.

There will be plenty of Bavarian spirit aboard the 4-hour Oktoberfest dinner cruise on Saturday, October 3rd, with a German themed menu, performances by the high-energy German Folk Dance troop The Schwaben Dancers and the opportunity to drink beer from a 1L stein. (more…)