Summer in Toronto is an ideal time for a getaway in the middle of the city. So, when I was invited to check out the new menu on the Mariposa Cruises brunch cruise, I booked the first weekend date available and asked my parents to join me for an afternoon cruise of the Toronto harbour and Sunday brunch.
With its fantastic views of the skyline, the beautiful Toronto islands and sparkling Lake Ontario, taking a harbour boat cruise is one of the top things to do in Toronto. Combine that with a Mariposa Cruises Brunch buffet and you get the best brunch with a view in Toronto.
Here’s what you need to know if you’re thinking about booking this popular Toronto buffet brunch cruise
Mariposa Cruises Fleet of Ships
The ship we cruised on for our Sunday brunch was the Captain Matthew Flinders, the flagship of the Mariposa Cruises fleet. We boarded the ship at the Toronto Harbourfront at 207 Queen’s Quay West, which was really convenient and offered fantastic views of outdoor patios, soaring seabirds, water taxis and Toronto islands from along the boardwalk’s waterfront promenade.
We were glad we arrived a bit early so we could take photos. Boarding began exactly at 11:30 am.
It’s important to note that the specific Mariposa vessel is not confirmed until the brunch cruise date. All six of the Mariposa vessels are available and subject to change. While the Captain Matthew Flinders offers an expansive interior space, each ship has its own special charms. They are all air-conditioned with plenty of outdoor and indoor areas for shade.
Mariposa Cruises also offers smaller vessels such as Showboat, which features a Paddlewheel Steamer design and Oriole, a replica of a Great Lakes Steamship – both great options for special events, Toronto harbour cruises, sightseeing cruises and brunch cruises.
Mariposa Cruises also offers Showboat and Oriole, a Great Lakes Steamship replica
Other ships include the bright and spacious modern yachts, Klancy II and wrapping up a $500 million interior renovation, Northern Spirit, one of the two largest passenger ships in Toronto.
Background of Mariposa Cruises
Mariposa Cruises has been in operation since 1987 and is the largest hospitality cruise operator in Toronto. Their public cruises–which include a Sunset Dinner Cruise, Lunch Cruise, Weekend Brunch Cruise, Sip & Sail Cocktail Cruise and more–are opportunities for visitors (and locals like us!) to experience Toronto’s beautiful island archipelago, harbour and skyline. They also offer private charters for weddings, corporate events and other celebrations.
Mariposa Cruises Sunday Brunch Menu
Our Brunch Cruise set sail at 12 noon as planned, departing the dock so smoothly we barely noticed we were sailing, until we noticed the buildings disappearing from view. We had reserved a table by the window ( extra cost) so had panoramic views of the skyline as we sailed into Toronto’s inner harbour. The waiter took our orders for VQA Ontario wine from the fully-licensed cash bar.
I was interested in experiencing the new Weekend Brunch menu created by Mariposa Cruises’ new executive chef Andrew Capone (formerly of The Drake, Thuet, Harbord Room and others). Chef Capone has unveiled a new, elevated dining experience across Mariposa Cruises, including the Weekend Brunch, in 2018.
This new menu features appetizers (fresh fruit salads, a fresh daily salad, delicious smoked trout and salmon, bakery items such as croissants), main courses (a carvery table with AAA beef, self-serve scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, ham, pancakes, French yogurt, cereals) and a dessert buffet featuring a pastry station of chocolate and vanilla cannoli.
It’s also possible to order pre-order Menu Enhancements such as feta bruschetta and antipasto platters. The passengers at the table next to us ordered a beautiful fruit and cheese platter for two and, at $17.95, it looked like very good value.
We really enjoyed the cuisine on this weekend brunch. While the selections are fewer than you might get at a weekend buffet brunch at a Toronto hotel, the quality of each of the dishes was very high.
The quinoa salad dotted with bright red peppers featured a refreshing vinaigrette while the smoked trout salad was packed with flavour. A highlight of the breakfast pastries were the light, crisp and buttery golden croissants, the definition of a perfect croissant.
Another highlight of the buffet was the smoked trout platter featuring a fantastic horseradish cream sauce. We loved it so much we asked Executive Chef Andrew Capone to share the recipe and have posted it on A Taste for Travel for you to make at home.
Get the recipe here: Smoked Trout Platter with Horseradish Cream.
Sightseeing During the Mariposa Cruises Brunch
While dining, we cruised through the Toronto inner harbour and into the Toronto island archipelago, a collection of 15 small islands across from downtown Toronto. With glimpses of flocks of geese and cormorants soaring over the water of Lake Ontario, it felt as though we were cruising through cottage country.
Once we finished enjoying our brunch, there was still time remaining in the 2-hour cruise to go up on deck to enjoy the spectacular 360 degree views of the Toronto skyline and famous islands as we returned to the Toronto harbour. It was a truly memorable day.
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Mariposa Cruises Travel Planner
Mariposa Cruises Toronto Brunch Cruise Prices:
Adults: $59.95 CAD plus HST and HSC
Children (age 4- 12 years): $32.95 CAD plus HST and HSC
Children 3 and under: FREE!
2018 Mariposa Cruises Brunch Schedule:
Every Saturday and Sunday May 19 – September 30
Every Sunday October 7 – October 28
Toronto Sightseeing Cruise vs a Brunch Cruise: How does a Brunch Cruise compare to a sightseeing cruise? The cost of a Mariposa sightseeing cruise is $24.95 CAD plus HST and includes a 45 minute cruise. The brunch cruise is a 2-hour cruise so you get an extra 1.25 hours of sightseeing plus a full brunch for $35 CAD extra per person. It’s also worth noting that while it’s possible to find cheaper harbour cruises among other operators, some of those ships have no shade and are so crowded, you must remain seated for the entire duration of the cruise. In my opinion, the Mariposa Cruises brunch tour is a much more upscale experience.
Visit the Mariposa Cruises Website to book.
Here are some handy travel tips on visiting Toronto and taking a scenic harbour cruise in Toronto:
1. Wear comfortable shoes, take a sweater or jacket and be sure to pack sunscreen and a hat for sun protection.
2. Take the TTC (subway, bus and streetcar network) or Uber to get to the Toronto Harbour. During special events, the harbour area can get very busy.
3. If you do decide to drive, there is a Green P Parking lot across the street from Harbourfront on Queen’s Quay. Boarding takes place at 207 Queen’s Quay West at the intersection of York Street and Queen’s Quay West.
5. If you’re travelling with seniors, children in strollers or persons with disabilities, note that due to record-high lake levels in 2017, the boarding ramps have a very steep incline. Mariposa Cruises has advised they are currently unable to accommodate persons in wheelchairs on their boats until water levels allow. On the Captain Matthew Flinders ship, once inside, you also need to be able to descent steep stairs into the dining area.
6. Look into whether it makes sense to get a CityPASS during your visit to Toronto. The cost is $72 per adult which saves you money off the regular price of 5 major attractions but for me, the biggest advantage is that a CityPass allows you to bypass the lineups.
7. Get the best deal on your hotel by using Hotelscombined.com, a search engine that compares top travel websites (such as Booking.com, Expedia and Hotels.com) to find the cheapest price. The closest hotels to Mariposa Cruises brunch and other harbour tours are the Westin Harbour Castle and the Radisson Admiral Harbourfront.
8. There’s a FREE seasonal shopping shuttle from Union Station ( June 1 – Sept 30) near Harbourfront to Vaughan Mills Premium Outlet Mall. If you have kids they’ll be entertained at Legoland (check out those kiddie strollers with touch screens) plus there’s a Banana Republic Factory Store, Kate Spade, BOSS, Calvin Klein, Cole Haan, DKNY, and Winners all under one architecturally impressive roof.
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