Fall Foliage, Canada-New England Cruises

The city of Boston in our wake as we set sail for Provincetown on a shore excursion. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle
The city of Boston in our wake as we set sail for Provincetown on a shore excursion. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

If you’re in the market for a fall cruise, few destinations match the beauty of New England and the Canadian Maritimes. Collectively, this region — marketed as Canada/New England — boasts some of the oldest settlements in North America, along with some of its most picturesque. From the hustle-and-bustle of New York City to the quaint, storybook setting of Prince Edward Island, this is one cruise destination you don’t want to overlook.

A warm welcome in Charlottetown, where we visited Anne of Green Gables on a shore excursion. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle
A warm welcome in Charlottetown, where we visited Anne of Green Gables on a shore excursion. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

While there are a handful of lines that sail in this region during the summer, the months of September through the end of October are considered “prime time” for fall foliage cruises to Canada & New England.

There’s also a stunning amount of variety, from quick four-and-five day hops up to Halifax to longer itineraries that sail the entire Eastern Seaboard. Some cruise lines come here for just a single voyage, while others offer multiple runs spanning the entire season.

Here’s a rundown of a few of our favorite Fall Foliage itineraries:

Canada/New England Cruises From New York

New York has always been a convenient turnaround port for Canada-New England voyages, thanks to its proximity to three major international airports (JFK, LaGuardia and Newark), along with a choice of three embarkation ports located in midtown Manhattan, in Brooklyn, and in Bayonne, New Jersey, at the Cape Liberty cruise port.

Cunard Line and Princess Cruises almost exclusively use the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal as their turnaround facility on weeklong trips up to Canada and New England. Cunard offers a 12-night New England & Canada Sojourn aboard the stunning Queen Mary 2 that embarks in Brooklyn on September 10, 2013, but can also be combined with a transatlantic crossing from Southampton, England on September 2, or from Hamburg, Germany on August 31.

Princess sails more regularly, offering weeklong voyages aboard Caribbean Princess that call on Newport, Boston, Bar Harbor, Saint John, New Brunswick and Halifax, Nova Scotia; while the slightly larger Emerald Princess operates 10-night Classic Canada & New England voyages that run between Quebec City and New York.

In Quebec, on a shore excursion we visited Filomena McKenzie, who only speaks Innu and grew up in the woods. 14 children and 80 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Makes snow shoes. © 2010 Ralph Grizzle
In Quebec, on a Holland America Line shore excursion, we visited Filomena McKenzie, who only speaks Innu and grew up in the woods, raising 14 children and 80 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. © 2010 Ralph Grizzle

Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line tend to use the Manhattan Cruise Terminal located midtown. For those seeking a quick jaunt up to Halifax or Saint John, New Brunswick, Carnival is probably the best bet, with convenient four-and-five night sailings aboard Carnival Glory that call on Saint John, Halifax, or both, bookended by days spent sailing the Atlantic Ocean. Fans of longer cruises aren’t left out: Carnival Glory operates a handful of weeklong trips to the maritimes as well.

Norwegian Cruise Line deploys its Norwegian Gem from New York on weeklong roundtrips that call on Halifax, Saint John, Boston, Bar Harbor, and Newport, Rhode Island.

Over in New Jersey, Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean use the Cape Liberty cruise terminal in Bayonne, New Jersey almost exclusively. Voyager of the Seas operates eight-night roundtrip Bayonne sailings alongside larger and more ambitious 10-night runs that sail between Quebec City and New Jersey. Between September and October, Celebrity Summit operates 14-day roundtrip sailings that call on Portland, Maine; Bar Harbor, Maine; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Sydney, Nova Scotia; Charlottetown, P.E.I.; Quebec City; and Gaspe, Quebec.

Canada/New England Cruises From Boston and Quebec

Aside from roundtrip cruises, one-way voyages between the United States and Canada offer the ability to see far more of Canada’s pristine Maritimes region, not to mention the French Canadian charm of Quebec City and Montreal.

Holland America Line has long used Boston as a base for its weeklong voyages aboard the elegant Maasdam that run between Boston and Montreal, Canada. Norwegian Cruise Line also offers one-way voyages between Boston and Quebec City aboard the popular Norwegian Dawn, and Royal Caribbean operates round-trip Boston voyages aboard the Brilliance of the Seas.

Canada/New England Cruises From Baltimore

Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas sails 8-Day Canada & New England cruises from Baltimore, Maryland that call on Portland, Maine; Bar Harbor, Maine; Saint John, New Brunswick; and Halifax, Nova Scotia.

So when should you go? Voyages that operate during the first weeks of September are often graced with spectacular, summer-like weather with plenty of sunshine and high temperatures. But if you’re a fan of this region’s fable fall colors, late September or early October can be your best option — even if you do get a day or two of rain.

Once you do go, though, prepare to be hooked; this is one destination we return to cruise again and again.

To get inspired, check out our video of Atlantic Canada:

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  • Great article Ralph, but just a friendly reminder that Saint John is never spelled St. John – way too much confusion with St. John’s Newfoundland and Labrador. Thanks so much Betty

  • One of Oceania Cruise Line’s small ships goes to Canada/New England in the fall starting from New York City and Montreal, so that’s another option. Also, I think maybe Viking Ocean may be starting cruises there this year.

    • Thank you Ruth. Yes, Viking will be there. Not sure if it is for the whole season yet, but at least on the crossing.



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