Canadian Maritimes cruises have sometimes been labeled as only for seniors or fall leaf-peeping aficionados, but that's definitely not the case. These Northern Atlantic cruises through Canada and New England offer tons of fun for cruisers of any age. In addition, ports of call on this itinerary offer appealing shore excursions to match a wide range of interests
Two Holland America Line ships, the ms Veendam and the ms Maasdam, sail from Boston, Montreal and Quebec City on 7-night cruises from May through October. Holland America’s innovative itineraries have been named “Best in Canada and New England” by Porthole Cruise Magazine readers. This New England/Canada itinerary is popular with other cruise lines as well. The Carnival Glory, for example, sails from New York City on 4-, 5- and 7-night Canada/New England voyages. Fall and leaf-peeping season draws a number of other cruise lines to this route, including Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean.
When considering a Canadian Maritimes multigenerational cruise, choose a ship that has spaces, programs and activities that meet your individual and group needs. Holland America’s ms Veendam, for example, is a superb choice for discerning adults and families. The 1,266-passenger ms Veendam is a mid-sized ship with high intensity entertainment areas as well as quiet spots for relaxing and taking in tranquil sea views, such as the spacious Explorations Café. The ship sails from Boston and Quebec City on seven-night itineraries from late spring through fall, visiting the coastal ports of Charlottetown, Sydney, Halifax and Bar Harbor. In addition, the ms Veendam overnights in Quebec City as part of its cruise itinerary, giving guests extra time to explore the sights of this magical spot.
A Canada/New England itinerary provides a sampler of some of North America’s most fascinating ports of call. Here are six reasons to choose a Canadian Maritimes cruise for your next vacation:
1. Ports with Historic Significance. Ports such as Quebec City, Halifax, Charlottetown and Sydney are perfect for history lovers. Quebec has much to offer including historic Petit Champlain, the Plains of Abraham where the French where the French surrendered to the British, important religious shrines and cobblestone streets. Guests will enjoy visiting the fortified town of Louisbourg near Sydney, particularly during its 300-year anniversary celebration. Visitors can learn about the French settlement of Canada and relive history at the Fortress of Louisbourg. The Alexander Graham Bell Museum on Cape Breton Island offers hands-on experiences and a fascinating view of his inventions. The exhibits here are outstanding. Highland Village, a living museum celebrating Gaelic heritage on Cape Breton Island, is another fascinating spot for picking up historic insights into the heritage and settlement of this area. In Halifax, cruise passengers can visit the Fairview Lawn Cemetery where over 100 individuals who journeyed aboard the Titanic were laid to rest. Tours also take visitors to the Citadel, the lovely Public Gardens, historic St. Paul’s Church and more.
2. Active Adventures. Many cruise passengers enjoy hiking, biking, kayaking and other outdoor activities. Canada and New England ports feature all this and more. Guests can take a bicycle adventure to Montmorency Falls outside Quebec City, sail around Cape Breton’s Bras D’Or Lakes, go kayaking in Halifax, and take a hike along the beautiful Ocean Trail in Maine’s Acadia National Park. Check your ship’s list of shore excursions as well as each port’s website for ideas and suggested activities.
3. Culinary Delights. Canadian Maritimes ports are a seafood lover’s dream. Cruisers can sample fresh lobster just steps away from the ship in just about every port of call. In addition to the usual lobster dinner, make sure to try a fresh lobster roll in Charlottetown, Halifax or Bar Harbor. Prince Edward Island is known around the world for its mussels – they’re a must-have treat there. Several ports also have special culinary treats that are fairly unique. Try poutine, freshly cooked French fries topped with gravy and curd-filled cheese, in Quebec City. Quebec is also the place to get the best maple treats, including maple syrup, maple candies and maple gelato. BeaverTails, fried dough pastries topped with cinnamon and sugar – or sometimes even maple butter, are worth sampling in Halifax. Those visiting Green Gables on Prince Edward Island must have a raspberry cordial, Anne’s favorite drink. In addition, don’t miss the fresh berry preserves and raspberry cream cheese pie at the Prince Edward Island Preserve Company. It’s delicious. If you’re taking a Holland America cruise, make sure to attend some of the many programs put on by the Culinary Arts Center aboard the ship.
4. Natural Wonders. Canada and New England ports are loaded with stunning sights. Located just a few miles from Quebec City, massive Montmorency Falls towers almost one hundred feet higher than Niagara Falls. Visitors can walk across the suspension bridge above the falls to look down over the torrential waters or take the aerial tram for a superb view. Other favorite spots include Cape Breton’s Bras D’Or Lakes and Maine’s Acadia National Park. Whale watching cruises are popular in Halifax and Bar Harbor. If your ship calls in Saint John, try to visit the Bay of Fundy. With a tidal range of up to 53 feet and the highest tides in the world, Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy truly is a natural wonder. Watch the reversing rapids that are created when the Bay of Fundy’s high tides meet the Saint John’s River, or walk along the Bay’s floor when the tide is out to see what sea creatures can be found.
5. European Flair. Many vacationers dream of visiting Europe, but are discouraged by high airfare prices. Canadian Maritimes ports provide some of the same European experiences, minus the wallet shock and jet lag. It’s fun to practice your French while touring in Montreal and Quebec City, one of the most European cities in North America. Strolling around Quebec City feels a bit like being in Paris. Make sure to sample French crepes and croissants and enjoy a meal in an outdoor café. While Nova Scotia’s first successful European settlement was French, many Gaelic-speaking Scottish settlers came to Nova Scotia in the mid- to late 1700’s. The name Nova Scotia means “New Scotland,” and there are still Gaelic speaking residents in Nova Scotia to this day.
6. Cooler Temperatures. Heading north to Canada and New England is the perfect way to avoid summer’s sweltering temperatures. Canadian ports are known for their changeable weather, but summer temperatures tend to average around 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day as compared to triple digits in some parts of the United States. Before departing, make sure to check the weather forecast for each of your ports of call and pack accordingly.
If You Go:
For more information on Holland America’s Canada/New England cruises, visit www.hollandamerica.