Tobermory boat cruise

Tobermory Boat Cruises: A 2023 Guide

Heading to Tobermory this summer, and want to take one of the famous boat cruises? Having been to Tobermory multiple times, I can break down the different cruise options for you, as there are so many of them. From there, you’ll have a better idea of which of the cruises in Tobermory fit your schedule and preferences best.

Make the most of your trip to Tobermory by being well informed, and knowing where and how to make the best cruise choice for you or your party. Tobermory is famous for its glass bottom cruises, and we’re going to go over the two cruise lines that offer them, as well as other cruising options in town.

So, let’s dive in.

Glass Bottom Boat Cruises

Here’s everything you need to know about the stops that will be made on the glass bottom boat cruises

Tobermory boat cruise

The glass bottom cruise options generally make three different stops:

Stop 1 is Big Tub Harbour, which is a small cove. In the cove, you’ll see a Big Tub Lighthouse, and the 1880s Sweepstakes Shipwreck (pictured above) which is only 5 ft below the water and very well in tact.

Stop 2 is Flowerpot Island, famous for its beautiful ‘flowerpot’ shaped rock formations.

tobermory flowerpot island

These glass bottom boat cruises are offered by two different companies: Bruce Anchor, and Blue Heron. They both offer a ‘stay on’ cruise option, and a ‘drop off’ option.

The Stay-On Options (at Bruce Anchor and Blue Heron)

The stay on option means that you stay on the boat for the round trip. You will go from Tobermory to the Big Tub, and then flowerpot island, and straight back again. The entire trip will take just over an hour. If you choose the ‘drop off’ option, then you will get off the boat at Flowerpot Island, and picked up later.

Let’s go through what you need to know about each of these options.

Glass Bottom Boat Cruises (Stay-on option)

Tobermory is famous for its glass-bottom boat cruises. The water is crystal clear and the glass-bottoms allow you to see down to the floor of the lake.

Tobermory Boat Cruise

The stay-on glass bottom boat cruises are perfect for anyone who doesn’t particularly want to hike Flowerpot Island, for whatever reason. If you just want just the cruise without the hike, then this is the perfect option. If you’re doing this cruise with small children, with elderly or mobility impaired, this is the option that I’d recommend.

Here are the similarities and differences between the two different stay-on glass bottom boat cruises offered by both Bruce Anchor and Blue Heron.

Stay-On Glass Bottom Boat Cruises

Bruce Anchor Blue Heron
-70 minute long cruise
-Operates from early May to early October
-Departs hourly from 8:30am to 3:35pm
-Leaves from their dock at 61 Front St. (the end of highway 6) just north of their hotel.
-The boarding area is NOT accessible
-Rates: Adults – $52.21, Seniors -$50.44, Youth (4-17)- $43.36, Children 0-3: FREE
-Cancel/get a refund 24 hours before
-90 minute cruise
-Operates from June 24th to September 3rd
-Departs daily at 10:50am, 12:45pm and 2:50pm
-Leaves from Little Tub Harbour
-Accessible boarding
-Parking available at any of their parking spots located at: 7425 Highway #6, 7456 Highway #6, 7445 Highway #6 or 20 Head Street.
– Rates: Adult – $54.95, Senior – $53.19, Youth – $46.11, Children 0-3: FREE
-Cancel/get a refund 48 hours before

TIP: If you choose to sail with Bruce Anchor, they have two different ships. The Explorer and The Fusion. They both cost the same, and look fairly similar.

Glass Bottom Boat Cruises (Drop-Off option)

Both Bruce Anchor and Blue Heron offer the option for you to get off at Flower pot island and explore. Here’s a break down on how those work.

Tobermory boat cruise

Bruce Anchor and Blue Heron both offer cruises that allow you to get off at Flowerpot Island, and stay there for a few hours before hopping on a cruise that takes you back to mainland. Here is the comparison between both of their drop-off options.

Bruce AnchorBlue Heron
-Departs hourly throughout the day from 8:30 – 3:35pm (8 departures on weekdays, and 11 on weekends)
-Rates during peak times: Adults – $68.15, Seniors -$66.37, Youth (4-17)- $59.29, Children 0-3: FREE
-Departs every hour throughout the day between 10 am – 3 pm
– Rates during peak times: Adults – $69.91 
Senior – $68.15 , Youth – $61.07 

A few things to note:

  • “Peak times” refer to anytime in the summer months – June, July and August. These are the busiest months for tourism in Tobermory
  • The same details mentioned with regards to boarding area and cancellation policy applies to the stay on and drop off cruise options for Bruce Anchor and Blue Heron
  • While 0-3 children are free of charge, they still require their own ticket, so don’t forget to include them in your booking

Should I Get Off at Flowerpot Island?

Flowerpot Island is a unique piece of natural landscape and famous for its ‘flowerpot’ shaped rock formations, which can’t be found anywhere else. Here’s everything you need to know about exploring Flowerpot Island.

tobermory flowerpot island

Flowerpot Island is really something. Its a beautiful piece of natural landscape that is completely unique to this region and can’t be found anywhere else. You can go swimming, hiking or have a picnic. There are caves to explore, and of course, you’ll want to get photos of the gorgeous one-of-a-kind rock formations against the turquoise water. Its an experience that doesn’t do justice until you can see it in real life.

Things to Keep in Mind about Flowerpot Island:

  • There are no amenities: no food, no electricity or garbage cans. Bring full water bottles.
  • There are compost washrooms only
  • The terrain is quite uneven and its not the easiest hike. I wouldn’t recommend coming here with anyone very young (under 5) or anyone with any kind of mobility impairment. Be sure to wear good walking shoes!
  • Flowerpot Island is a sensitive piece of nature that they are working hard to preserve, so please leave it better than you found it. Take all your garbage back with you.
Flowerot island beach, things to do with kids
Beach at Flowerpot Island

I took a cruise with Bruce Anchor alone with my one year old while my husband was getting his scuba diving certification with Diver’s Den in town. I chose the stay-on option, because I knew it would be easier with a child of this age. My husband has hiked Flowerpot Island, and he loved it. But based on his experience hiking there, and my view of the island from the boat of my stay-on cruise – we would only advise you to get off at Flowerpot Island if you feel comfortable for the three hours outdoors, with minimal shade, amenities. Be sure to bring good hiking shoes, and lots of water!

Good news – there are other cruise options in Tobermory besides the glass bottom tours.

Sunset Cruises in Tobermory

One of the most popular activities in Tobermory are sunset cruises.

tobermory sunset

Sunset Cruises in Tobermory are offered through Blue Heron. They will take you to see the Grotto and the Indian Head Cove. Departure times vary to leave it well timed with the sunset, so the timing changes slightly throughout the summer months.

In spring, the sunset cruises leave on Saturday nights only. In the summer, they leave every night. All of these cruises are weather dependent.

Tobermory Wave

Another boat cruising company in Tobermory is Tobermory Wave. Like Blue Heron, Tobermory Wave leaves from Little Tub Harbour. They don’t have glass bottoms – these boats are smaller, more similar to a motorboat. Unlike with Blue Heron and Bruce Anchor daytime cruises, you get to see the grotto with Tobermory Wave.

So if you want to see the grotto in addition to  Flowerpot Island, and the Sweepstakes shipwreck from a boat in one tour – then Tobermory Wave might be what you’re looking for.

With Tobermory Wave, an adult ticket is $70 and children’s are $62. The tour is 2h 20 mins. They do have a 3-day cancellation policy, so keep this in mind when you book.

Tobermory Cruises: Where to Stay Nearby

There are a few accommodation options in Tobermory, but its always nice to be close to the harbour and the cruise boarding areas, to minimize the stress of commuting to the town and looking for parking.

Bruce Anchor Motel

If you’re sailing with Bruce Anchor, there’s nowhere more convenient to stay than their hotel, which is located just a stone’s throw from their dock. This is what I chose to do. It was convenient being so close by. The nice thing about The Bruce Anchor Hotel is that its also only a 5-minute walk to the Tobermory Harbour and restaurants. So the location was great all around.

If you’re planning to sail with Blue Heron, the Bruce Anchor motel is still close – about a 10 minute walk from the Little Tub Harbour where you’ll board.

Heading to Tobermory with kids? Click here to read about family-friendly accommodations in town.

Tobermory Cruises: Final Thoughts

We hope this covered the information you need to select the best Tobermory cruise for your stay. I sincerely hope that this was helpful to you. The cruises are a must, whether you’re in Tobermory with kids, or a group of adults.