Top Cruise Itineraries for the Fall

Princess Cruises’ Ruby Princess is one of several ships calling at Quebec City.

Princess Cruises’ Ruby Princess is one of several ships calling at Quebec City.

Colorful fall foliage, Colonial history and savory fresh seafood are great enticements for fall New England and Atlantic Canada cruises, including navigation along the St. Lawrence River. Clients will view eco-beauty at Acadia National Park; tour majestic oceanfront mansions in Newport, RI; take city tours of Boston and Quebec City; go whale watching; and visit lovely ports such as Historic Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, or Saint John, New Brunswick.

Many lines, big and small, sail this region in fall. Some also have summer voyages, popular with multigenerational families. Voyages are typically as short as five nights and as long as two weeks. Major embarkation ports include Baltimore, Boston, Cape Liberty (Bayonne, NJ), Quebec City, Montreal and New York City. Many cruises are round-trip, but one-way voyages also operate between Quebec or Montreal, and Boston or New York.

Cruise tourism is booming. “This year will mark the busiest season we’ve ever seen,” says Mario Girard, president and CEO of the Quebec Port Authority. During the October 3 weekend, the Port of Quebec for the first time will reach full capacity with six ships docked at the same time, representing over 20,000 passengers and crew members. “We already know that we are headed for a record level of traffic in the 2014 season with a never-before-seen peak of 110 cruise ship visits,” Girard says.

Carnival Cruise Lines sails four- to seven-day Canada/New England cruises on Carnival Splendor from New York between June and October. Four-day weekend cruises depart July 3 and 31, and August 28, calling at Saint John, New Brunswick, while five-day cruises depart September 1 and October 11, calling at both Saint John and Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Colorful foliage greets autumn cruisers along the shores of Maine.

Colorful foliage greets autumn cruisers along the shores of Maine.

Five week-long “fall foliage” Canada/New England cruises on Carnival Splendor feature extended stops at Boston; Portland, Maine; Saint John; and Halifax. Departure days for the seven-day voyages include September 6, 13, 20, and 27, and October 4.

Those who are Norwegian Cruise Line fans might travel on Norwegian Dawn, which sails two seven-day, one-way Canada & New England voyages from Boston on September 12 and 26, with calls in Portland, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, and Gaspésie and La Baie, Quebec, with disembarkation at Quebec City.

Alternatively, Norwegian’s guests can sail a 14-day round-trip Canada/New England cruise from Boston on the same dates, with calls in Sydney; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Saint John, Bay of Fundy; and Bar Harbor, ME, on the return to Boston. Norwegian also offers a 14-day cruise departing September 5; it visits Bermuda, Canada and New England.

At Historic Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island, the 2014 cruise season kicked off last month with a visit from Holland America Line’s Veendam. Holland America is the Historic Charlottetown Harbor Authority’s largest cruise client, representing 47 of 64 ship calls scheduled this year. Ships of other lines also will call there throughout the summer and the fall foliage season. Royal Caribbean International’s Legend of the Sea, which sails four cruises in the region, will wrap up the port’s season in early November with a 12-night Canada and Bermuda cruise.

Three other Royal Caribbean ships also sail in the region. Brilliance of the Seas will offer six autumn sailings to Canada and New England, sailing round-trip from Boston to Maine, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia on seven-night itineraries. Explorer of the Seas will offer two nine-night fall foliage cruises, departing Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, NJ on August 28 and September 11. From Baltimore, MD, Grandeur of the Seas will offer four sailings on an eight-night Canada & New England itinerary.

Oceania Cruises will offer three sailings on the newly refurbished Regatta this fall between New York and Montreal. The voyages start September 16 and include Newport, Boston, Portland, Saint John, Halifax, Sydney and Quebec City. A special 15-day sailing from Montreal to Miami, which departs on October 20, will include calls at Quebec City, Bar Harbor, Boston and Bermuda.

Sister line Regent Seven Seas Cruises is once again deploying Seven Seas Navigator to the region with three 10-night sailings between New York and Montreal starting September 22. A special 15-day Montreal to Miami sailing is scheduled October 22 with up to 56 free shore excursions. Ports include Quebec City, Halifax, Sydney, Portland, Norfolk and Charleston.

Just launched in 2013, Royal Princess sails her maiden Canada & New England season this year, and Princess Cruises also operates voyages in the region on Ruby Princess. In total, Princess will operate four itineraries, including seven-day round-trip sailings from New York City, 10-day cruises between Quebec City and New York, and a 12-day sailing from Quebec City to Fort Lauderdale. Overnight stays in Quebec City are available for all extended departures.

On the 10-day departure of Le Boreal from Quebec City to Boston on September 18, Compagnie du Ponant will offer new shore trips. In addition, Portland, is a new port of call. Guests will explore secluded bays and national parks, go whale watching, and enjoy coastal cruising. They might also add an optional Saguenay Fjord seaplane excursion or perhaps sample Portland’s culinary scene. Other port calls include Saguenay, Tadoussac, Havre St. Pierre, Percé and Cap-aux-Meules in Quebec, plus Baddeck, Louisbourg and Lunenburg in Nova Scotia.

Among other lines sailing Canada/New England fall voyages this year are Celebrity Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Cunard Line, Pearl Seas Cruises, Silversea Cruises and Seabourn Cruise Line. Small ship lines also offer northeast U.S. coastal or Hudson River cruises so guests can visit smaller ports and avoid the crowds.

Blount Small Ship Adventures has sailings on the Hudson. So does American Cruise Line; its American Glory, American Star and Independence embark from New York for Hudson itineraries from September 27 through October 24. Ports include West Point and Catskill, NY. St. Lawrence Cruises also sails such itineraries as Kingston, Ontario, to Ottawa and Quebec City to Kingston.

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