Canada cruises from coast to coast
The autumn is the best time to visit Eastern Canada because this is when the maple trees and other plants and trees carpet the land in a glorious array of reds, yellows and browns. September to late October are the best months to vacation because the days can still be warm and comfortable. The nights have that first chill that heralds the winds and rain that will strip the trees bare of leaves and the approaching storms of winter. Many of the major cruise lines have mid-sized ships that call in at ports from New York and Boston to Halifax and as far up the St. Lawrence River as Montreal. There are cruises that travel the east coast earlier in the year, but for my money as a Canadian, I recommend you choose the autumn if you plan to cruise here. Canada Cruise, a division of VacationsToGo, is a good website to search for Canada and New England cruises and price deals. U.S. ports where cruises embark or disembark are New York, Baltimore, Boston and even a few ships come from Miami. Itineraries take in the historic and picturesque towns and villages of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. On the Canadian side of the border the shorter cruises will call in at Halifax and Saint John, New Brunswick on the Bay of Fundy. The longer cruises will include Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and Corner Brook, Newfoundland or they will venture up river to historic Quebec City and go as far as Montreal. I grew up in Montreal so I know this entire area intimately. You will not be disappointed. This is the closest you'll get to Europe without actually going there. If your Canada cruise goes to Newfoundland or Labrador you will appreciate that the Atlantic ocean is just a crack apart from Ireland the coastlines are so similar. This is unforgettable country anytime of year but especially in the autumn season. A website you might not come across is the Atlantic Canada Cruise Association. It is a partnership of port, tourism and cruise lines that promote Atlantic Canada as a cruise destination. Canada cruises to this region are growing rapidly as more tourists become aware of all that there is to see and do.
Princess Cruises has a 10-day Canada and new England cruise from New York to Quebec City and a 7-day that stops in Saint John and Halifax. Sister cruise line Carnival operates some shorter 4 and 5 day cruises from Boston to Saint John with Halifax added on the 5-day. Their 7-day includes Sydney, Nova Scotia. Cunard's Queen Elizabeth II operates from New York to Quebec City.
Canada cruises on the west coast are a slightly different story. These itineraries tend to originate or end in Los Angeles or Seattle in the United States or in Vancouver, Canada. The cruises concentrate on Alaska adventures. Vancouver and Victoria are the principal Canadian cities visited. Some ships taking the inside passage to Alaska will stop at Prince Rupert. Larger cruise ships can be used on theses routes and you will find cruises by Princess, Carnival, Crystal, Oceania, Norwegian and Holland America. Choose your ship, choose your ports, find a deal. Of the smaller ships, Regent has been using its luxurious Navigator of the Seas out of Vancouver when it hasn't been over on the east coast operating out of New York. Oceania operates on both the east and west coasts. It runs out of Vancover, British Columbia to Alaska with a stop in Prince Rupert. You can read more about Alaska Cruises on my Alaska cruises page.
Oceania's east coast cruises go from New York to Montreal in September and October with their final cruise of the season running south to New York City, Bermuda and Miami as it repositions for the winter Caribbean cruise season.
Totally different Canada cruises
Ready for an unforgettable Canada cruises that most travellers haven't tried yet? The Canadian artic is more accessible now that global warming is melting the ice. TheThe Great Canadian Travel Company has begun cruises from Greenland to Cambridge Bay, Nunavut through the North West passage. This would be a top-of-the-world experience while the water is open. Sea life, amazing panoramic vistas of the tundra and animals of the north, and an introduction to Eskimo culture. My neighbour brought us back a rounded knife from Nunavut that the peole use for everything from scraping animal skins to chopping vegetables. We use it in our kitchen practically every day. One of the best, and sharpest, choppers we've ever seen! The company has some other fascinating offerings: A 7-day Greak Lakes cruise around Lake Michigan; an 8-day sailing on a restored fishing vessel, the Wanderbird along the southern coast of Newfoundland; and a 4-day cruise in and out of rustic and quaint fishing villages on the coast of Maine.
Small ship Canada cruises
Ponant Cruises (Compagnie des isles du Ponant) has a fall foliage cruise to the Gaspe peninsula. The cruise includes New England in addition to the mouth of the St. Lawrence River. Heritage Cruise Lines has cruise tours of the Thousand Islands (where the St. Lawrence River meets Lake Ontario). These start and end in Kingston, Ontario. Their 4-day cruise for 18 passengers calls at Picton, Brockville, and Ganonoque. This is a fascinating region of Ontario, Canada with a long history back to the war with the United States, 1776 and all that! The Ontario Waterway Cruises has a 5-day cruise on the Trent-Severn waterway that continues down to the Rideau Canal and the nation's capital, Ottawa, passing through up to 37 canal locks. The boat carries 45 passengers (23 outside cabins). This is a very casual basic cruise with old-fashioned home-cooked farm-fresh meals. Other cruises in this part of Canada are offered by St. Lawrence Cruise Lines who advertise 3, 5 and 7-day cruises from Kingston to Ottawa and as far as Quebec City. Their boat, the Canadian Empress is a replica of a 1900s style paddle steamer like the ones that use to travel these routes. The decor recaptures the elegance of riverboat travel. Dress is casual except sports jackets are required at dinner. Meals are home-cooked. Local entertainers like minstrels and folk singers come onboard to entertain in the evenings.
Straddling the U.S./Canada border south of Montreal sits Lake Champlain. Vermont Discovery Cruises can put you on a customized yacht that accommodates 16 passengers for cruises all the way along the Chambly Canal past St. Jean/d'Iberville down the Richelieu to Chambly, Montreal, and Sorel. This route is one of the oldest water routes between Montreal and New York via the canal system joining up with the Hudson River. It is still used every year by yacht owners. These are 6-night cruises. They also operate shorter cruises on Lake Champlain where you can visit the forts and sites of the 1776 naval battles. You can charter the whole yacht if you prefer. Put together a group of friends. Sightsee, play golf, shop, or just hang out and have fun.
Salisbury Cruises operates in the Kenora region and Lake of the Woods, the second largest freshwater lake in Ontario. They run 3-night cruises on a historic restored wooden yacht that carries only 8 passengers. This is a very casual cruise where you can fish in the summer and hunt in the fall. A shore lunch would feature freshly caught pickerel or muskie. Unforgettable!
Small Ship Cruises is a good website to explore the many options for large and small Canada cruises. They list small ship cruises not only in Canada but around the world and give you an introductory description of what to expect on various ships and from the many cruise lines. They also provide some pricing information. Of course, they would like you to contact them and do your booking through them. I don't have any affiliation with them. I found them poking around the Internet. A great, one-stop website about small ship cruises.
Another site I found that has a comprehensive list of cruise companies and their ships around the world is Cyber Cruises. I've given you a breif glimpse of some of the Canada cruises. If you want to spend some time exploring all the ships that operate in other parts of the world, do some searching through their list. You'll discover many companies you've probably never heard of.