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7 Canada and New England Cruise Ports that You’re Going to Love

Cruises to Canada and New England are a wonderful way to see the fall leaves change color, spot whales and other marine creatures and immerse yourself in the rich history of the development of North America.

If you’ve had a good fill of Caribbean cruises and sailings in other parts of the world, perhaps you’ve been eyeing a new cruise destination. A cruise itinerary that visits Canada and New England might be just what you’ve been needing to change things up a bit.

The cruise season runs from May to October, and these sailings are especially popular from August to October to see the burst of color that the spectacular fall foliage reveals. Whale-watching season is at its height during these months, too, with the chance to see humpbacks, minke, northern right whales and other species.

Look for cruise itineraries that include any of these seven great Canada and New England cruise ports. Each of them offers distinctive activities and attractions that reveal the energy, culture and history of this amazing region of the world.

Montreal

Perhaps the most European city in all of the Americas, Montreal is a predominantly French-speaking city (but most residents do speak English, as well). Old Montreal is the historic district, with cobbled streets offering quaint shops, cafes and restaurants.

Highlights include one of Canada’s best-known churches, Notre Dame Basilica, a stunning beauty completed in 1824 and filled with stained glass, vaulted ceilings, and gold ornamentation.

Look for cruises to this port on Holland America Line’s Zaandam, Royal Caribbean’s Empress of Seas and Victory Cruise Line’s Victory II. You can also find Montreal voyages from luxury lines like Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, Crystal Cruises, Viking Cruise, Silversea, Oceania, and Windstar.

Quebec City

Located on the St. Lawrence River, Quebec City annually ranks among the best-rated cruise ports in North America. The city sits just northwest of Maine and the rest of New England and features a distinct feel of Old World Europe and the French countryside.

Highlights of this stop of New England/Canada cruises include exploring French foods like poutine and wandering the Petit-Champlain District and Place-Royale, the first French settlement in North America, which dates back four centuries. The walled fortifications of Old Quebec are a designated UNESCO World Heritage site and filled with fascinating historic buildings and architecture.

St. John’s, Newfoundland

This is the easternmost city in North America and one of its oldest. Cruise stops here offer you the chance to see the first sunrise on the continent. This is a quirky place where the residents proudly embrace the island’s rugged heritage of settlers and fishing villages. Cod fishing is ingrained in the history of the island, and you’ll find it a favored delicacy on the menus. Ask a local where you can get “screeched in” — that is, welcomed as an honorary Newfoundlander in a fun ceremony.

There are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy, with scenic boat tours (be on the lookout for whales and puffins) and hiking among the most popular. Head to Signal Hill National Historic Site to find Cabot Tower and stunning views of the entire region. A pleasant hiking path leads down to Quidi Village, a historic fishing village, with a picturesque marina, restaurants and a brewery.

Halifax

This port city is rich in marine history and serves as the gateway to the Atlantic as cruise ship visit this vibrant and energetic destination after making the turn south from the Gulf of St. Lawrence and start the journey toward New England.

Ships dock at Halifax Harbour, a delightful waterfront boardwalk that bustles with activity. You’ll find the historic Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market, Garrison Brewing (a craft brewer) and dozens of restaurants, bars, and boutiques all within a stroll from your ship.

You can rent a bike or go for a boat tour in the harbor to spy marine creatures or do some lobster fishing. The city and surrounding region are home to more than 150 beautiful lighthouses, and many of them can be visited during lighthouse tours.

Bar Harbor

The port is a natural wonder and picturesque gem. Bar Harbor is nestled on a cliffside on Mount Desert Island, which is home to Acadia National Park. The city has Frenchman Bay at its face and the mountains of the park at its back. Ship’s anchor in the bay and tender passengers to the pier located in the heart of the town.

Visitors flock to Acadia, where you can explore by hike, bike or car ride. Coastal cruises, fishing outings, whale-watching tours, and kayaking adventures are also popular ways to play when visiting Bar Harbor. The destination is a seafood lover’s dream, with the legendary Maine lobster in high demand.

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Portland, Maine

The city is located on a peninsula that extends into Casco Bay. Portland’s Old Port waterfront area is located an easy stroll from your ship, and it features working fishing wharves and a mix of historic buildings and warehouses reclaimed for shops and restaurants.

The city’s West End district offers pretty Victorian homes and the Victorian Mansion, also known as the Morse-Libby House, a National Historic Landmark. Highlights or your cruise to Portland include the chance to go on tours of the six area lighthouses or a handful of the city’s dozens of craft breweries. Look for Maine Brew Bus tours to give you an in-depth look at the craft beer scene in Portland, which has been on the cutting edge for brewing since the craft craze began.

In fact, Portland has many ways to tempt your taste buds as one of the top culinary destinations in the U.S. Many of the city’s top restaurants are located near the port. Look for creative lobster dishes and fresh oyster offerings, as well as farm-to-table eateries.

Boston

A visit to Boston puts the nation’s revolutionary history at the forefront. The capital of Massachusetts is a big and busy city, but you can discover a dimension of accessible charm when arriving to its cruise port.

You can follow in the footsteps of the nation’s founding fathers and explore museums, monuments and churches, meeting houses and other significant sites along the 2.5-mile Freedom Trail in the heart of the city and close to the waterfront. Sites include Faneuil Hall, the Boston Massacre location, Paul Revere House, Bunker Hill Monument and the USS Constitution (Old Ironsides).

Boston is also a city with a rich sports tradition, and visitors coming between May and November might have a chance to game a game or stadium tour at famed Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox, or see a Celtics or Bruins game.

Boston Common is the oldest city park in the U.S. Sitting in the heart of downtown, the Common hosts numerous events, is a beautiful place to go for a walk and is surrounded by the city’s most popular streets: Tremont, Park, Beacon, Charles, and Boylston Streets. This puts you within close proximity to shops, restaurants and other activities in this buzzing city.


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