Written by 5:30 pm Ports

Cruise Guide: Breathtaking fall foliage cruises beckon passengers

By Mike Coleman

It’s hard to tell when the seasons actually change here in Southwest Florida but if you’re among the lucky ones cruising from the United States to Eastern Canada, you know that fall is in the air.

Over the next two months some of the world’s leading cruise lines will be showcasing the brilliant gold, yellow, red and orange autumn hues viewed from high atop a lido deck near you. Many cruises not only feature New York, Boston, Quebec City and Montreal on their fall itineraries, they also include calls on quaint coastal villages featuring regional fare to warm your bones, from steamy New England clam chowder to Nova Scotia’s famed lobster.

Worried that such cruises are too sedentary? Think again. Optional sightseeing excursions run the gamut – from pub crawls in historic Halifax (with your very own band of roving musicians) to clambakes on private islands. Let’s not forget Broadway shows, haunted walks, touring New Brunswick’s Bay of Fundy by jet boat, or visiting lighthouses in Maine.

Carnival Triumph will sail a series of cruises round-trip from New York. Ports include Boston, Portland, Sydney and Halifax. Sightseeing highlights include scenic Peggy’s Cove, the Fortress of Louisburg and the Moosehead Brewery.

Celebrity’s Constellation will offer guests roundtrip voyages from Cape Liberty, NJ. Highlights include Boston, Bar Harbor, Halifax; an overnight stay in Quebec City, the Saguenay River and Portland. Among the sightseeing options are trips from Quebec City to the St. Anne de Beaupre shrine, combined with a visit to Montmorency Falls – one-and-a-half times as high as Niagara Falls.

Holland America’s Maasdam will operate a series of itineraries to Canada/New England, from Montreal to Boston and Boston to Montreal. Highlights include cruising the St. Lawrence River with stops in Quebec City, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Sydney, Halifax and Bar Harbor. Guests might want to become a 19th Century Redcoat soldier for a day, as offered on a special shore excursion.

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Jewel, which debuted in Europe this month, will sail on a series of 11-day Canada/New England itineraries roundtrip from New York. Itinerary highlights include Boston; Bar Harbor; cruising the Cabot Strait and the Gulf of St. Lawrence; Halifax; Quebec City; cruising the Saguenay River; Sydney; cruising the Bay of Fundy and Saint John. Sightseeing excursions include sea kayaking, a haunted Halifax walking tour and whale-watching sojourns.

Golden Princess will sail a series of seven week-long sailings roundtrip from New York while Sea Princess will debut in the region with three, 10-day departures from New York to Quebec City. The ship will also sail one Canada/Colonial America voyage along the full length of the Atlantic coast -visiting five of America’s 13 original colonies.

Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas will sail out of Boston on seven-night itineraries to Martha’s Vineyard, Bar Harbor, Portland, Halifax and Saint John. On Sept. 25, the ship sails from Boston to Quebec; and on Oct. 2, the ship sails a seven-night itinerary from Quebec to Fort Lauderdale. Sightseeing highlights include a visit to Maine’s Acadia National Park, a canoe trip and lobster bake.

Not to be outdone, the luxury cruise lines are keeping pace this fall with their own unique twists.

Crystal Cruises will offer five fall itineraries ranging from seven to 11 days aboard Crystal Symphony. Highlights include New York, Bar Harbor and Halifax – among a host of other destinations. Optional sightseeing tours include a Broadway performance and private lunch with the cast of Wicked in New York, an evening theater outing in Boston to see Blue Man Group or Shear Madness, and coastal kayaking along Bar Harbor’s Frenchman’s Bay.

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 will sail on a 12-day round-trip cruise from New York, departing Sept. 26. Highlights include Sydney; Corner Brook, Newfoundland; Quebec City; Halifax; Portland; Boston and Newport. Optional sightseeing excursions include a pub tour in Halifax complete with that band of roving musicians by your side.

The Radisson Seven Seas Navigator will sail Canada/New England waters on seven, eight and nine-night itineraries between New York and Montreal. The line is offering a host of optional shore excursions, including a ghost tour of Quebec and an excursion via a World War II amphibious vehicle.

Cruises, featuring Silver Whisper, will offer nine, 10, and 11-day cruises. Three itineraries sail between Montreal and New York and a fourth sails from Boston to Montreal. Highlights include Bar Harbor, Boston, Corner Brook, Halifax and Sydney. The line is also offering a unique sightseeing option – a flightseeing tour of Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley in all of its autumnal splendor.

Seabourn Pride, meanwhile, will sail seven-day cruises between New York and Quebec City that can be booked as 14-day combination itineraries. Sept. 18 and Oct. 2 sailings from New York to Quebec call at Bar Harbor, Lunenburg and Sydney. A complimentary excursion takes passengers to the Highland Games at Sydney’s Gaelic College. On Sept. 25 and Oct. 9 the ship will call at Halifax, Boston and Newport, sailing between Quebec and New York.

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