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A Cruising Guide to Canada & New England

Destination Reviews

The vast expanse that is Canada is home to some of the world's most unique landscapes, wildlife and culture, and a small ship cruise is the ideal way to discover its varied coastline. Our top pick? The lesser-explored region of Atlantic Canada: a fascinating showcase of maritime history, authentic coastal towns and wildlife-rich national parks. It's perfectly paired with a cruise to the historic region of New England in the USA, perhaps best known for its vibrant autumn foliage and iconic cities such as Boston.

Like neighbouring USA, Canada's beauty lies in its diversity. Pair a voyage here with a visit to Alaska or, if you're looking to colder climes, there are chances to sail up to the Canadian Arctic to spot polar bears in Churchill and even venture over to western Greenland.

We'd recommend an Atlantic Canada and New England cruise combination to give you a real in-depth appreciation of the region. Many voyages begin at the French-speaking capital of Québec City on the Saint Lawrence River, a European-style gem that's truly a delight to wander around. Here, cobblestone streets and colonial-style architecture in Old Québec give way to plenty of green space, museums, and a fabulous food scene, from local eateries serving poutine to fine, farm-to-fork French fare.


From here, you're well-equipped to explore the four provinces that make up Atlantic Canada. Often unfairly overlooked by travellers in favour of its Pacific Coast counterpart, each region has its own unique appeal.

Up in Prince Edward Island, the smallest of the provinces, you'll find red-sand beaches scattered with lighthouses that look out onto the Gulf of St Lawrence, known for migratory whales, with the chance to indulge in its world-renowned seafood, while next-door Newfoundland and Labrador brim with waterfalls and glacial fjords in the Gros Morne National Park. Stroll around capital St Johns to see those famous colourful row houses perched along the harbour, looked over by the iconic stone fortress that is Cabot Tower.


For one of the best whale watching spots in Canada, neighbouring Nova Scotia is home to thousands of kilometres of coastline, with the chance to see species like minke, blue, humpback and fin whales. The Bay of Fundy separates the province from its neighbour, New Brunswick, where the world's highest tides can be witnessed at The Hopewell Rocks - sea stacks that are caused by tidal erosion - a truly fascinating spectacle.

Just across the border you'll find the first of the USA's New England states, Maine. Quintessentially New England, Maine has a historic maritime tradition, where you can sample fresh lobster among lighthouse-dotted islands and witness spectacular autumnal hues and wildlife such as moose and bear in the 47,000-acre Acadia National Park. Affluent Vermont and New Hampshire are similarly outdoor-focussed, with huge expanses of wilderness that offer skiing in the winter and hikes in the summer on the wildlife-rich Appalachian Trail.

Further south, and perhaps one of the most notable ports of call, Boston in Massachusetts is a key stop on any Canada and New England cruise. It's well worth a stroll round Harvard's campus for its beautiful red-brick architecture, and don't miss the myriad museums such as the Museum of Fine Art, as well as the Freedom Trail and the famous Fenway Park to catch a Boston Redsox baseball game.


Once known as the destination to which American high society would flock each summer, upmarket Rhode Island is all sandy beaches lined with Gilded Age mansions - some of which are now museums. It's also an excellent gateway to New York, where city slicking among such icons as Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty provide a fitting end - or start - to many Canada and New England cruises.


New York is also home to portions of two of the Great Lakes, which are made up of Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. Few cruise lines sail here, but you will find itineraries with two of our favourites, Hapag-Lloyd and Ponant, with their cruises usually beginning in Toronto or Milwaukee. Experiences on offer include boat trips through the 30,000 islands of Northeastern Manitoulin, walks over Canada's longest suspension bridge and exploring historic Fort William and Kakabeka Falls.

When considering the best time to travel we recommend, if possible, opting for late September, October or November to get the full force of Canada and New England's autumn hues, though spring and early summer are also pleasant times to visit.

Meet the author

Claire is Marketing Manager at Mundy Cruising, having worked with the company for nearly a year and in travel for over 8 years. Most recently she's cruised on Seabourn and has also sailed with Ponant and Uniworld. Her favourite destination is Sweden however she's also enjoyed cruises in the the Galapagos, Mediterranean, Caribbean, Northern Europe, Greek Isles and the Far East. When she’s not travelling she loves weekends away in the countryside.

More about Claire

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