Some travelers might equate a Canada/New England cruise with crisp autumn months, but the region has so much more to offer than just fall foliage. A cruise to Canada and New England in the summer means countless outdoor festivals, spectacular seasonal cuisine, warmer weather -- and plenty of Shakespeare, seafood and jazz. You might even have a chance to take advantage of the pool onboard your ship. We've rounded up some of the most popular ports on these itineraries to bring you 10 reasons you should consider sailing to Canada/New England in the summertime.
It's Peak Lobster Season in Bar Harbor
Sure, you can get a tasty lobster just about any time in Maine, but for soft shell lobster you'll want to visit Bar Harbor in July or August. When the Gulf of Maine begins to warm, a seasonal molt takes effect meaning lobsters shed their hard shells and also grow in size -- to delicious results. After you're done lunching on lobster, take a hike in Acadia National Park surrounded by lush greenery or ride the Schoodic Ferry (open mid-June to mid-September). If you're still feeling famished, tea and popovers on the lawn at the Jordan Pond House in Acadia is a summer tradition.
Photo: Darryl Brooks/Shutterstock.com
The Gilded Age Elite's Former Summer Homes in Newport
Stroll Newport in the same season as its most extravagant residents. The staggering mansions known throughout Rhode Island -- like Vanderbilt's The Breakers -- were primarily built as summer residences. Many of these grounds are open to the public today, including the spectacular topiary garden known as Green Animals (which closes in October). Annual flower shows, musical festivals (jazz, blues and the renowned Newport Folk Festival), a kite festival -- and plenty of polo -- fill the months of June and July.
Photo: LEE SNIDER PHOTO IMAGES/Shutterstock.com
Halifax's Epic Festivals
Halifax has a rich history, accessible year-round through museums, but its history and culture come alive in the summertime through a number of festivals. Learn more about Canada -- and Nova Scotia's -- First Nation culture on National Aboriginal/Indigenous Peoples Day, June 21. If you're not in town on the summer solstice, keep an eye out for the Busker, Fringe, Folk, Beer and Pride festivals -- all held in the summer months. Even better, Halifax has an active food truck scene when the temperature rises.
Photo: joseph s l tan matt/Shutterstock.com
Enjoy an Outdoor Beer Garden Next to a Free Circus in Quebec City
Most postcards of the Quebec City skyline show an idyllic cityscape with renowned Chateau Frontenac framed by colorful trees. What you don't see is what a bustling city Quebec can be in the summer -- and with many attractions right at the cruise terminal. La Cour arriere du Festibiere is a beer garden and water park in one -- right along the Saint Lawrence River. After sipping your local brew sitting ankle deep in a wading pool, head to the Crepuscule, a free acrobatic circus held in an outdoor theater at the port -- but only in the summer.
Photo: Brittany Chrusciel/Cruise Critic
No One Does the Fourth of July like Boston
Whale-watching, harbor tours, public gardens in bloom, farmers markets, dragon boats, Shakespeare on the Common, even ziplining the Greenway -- these are just some of the things available to cruisers visiting Boston in the summertime. Topping the list is the chance to check out Beantown the week of July 4; Harborfest is the historic city's Independence Day celebration with hundreds of festivities beginning on June 30 and culminating in a spectacular fireworks display with music from the Boston Pops. If you can't make it to town for The Fourth, try checking out festivals that celebrate everything from pizza to jazz, or grab a summer game at Fenway, the oldest baseball stadium in the country.
Experience a Scottish Festival in Charlottetown
Prince Edward Island carries charm in spades, perhaps best known as the home of "Anne of Green Gables." A musical rendition of the beloved book series is held with a June-through-September run during the Charlottetown Festival. But lesser known is The Highland Games and Scottish Festival, typically held in early August. The festival features step dancing competitions, pipe bands, sheepdog demonstrations and traditional delicacies, providing a taste of Scotland.
Photo: David Hughes/Shutterstock.com
Ghost Stories, Picnics and a Regatta in St. John's
You might expect The Royal St. John's Regatta -- one of North America's oldest sporting events dating back to 1816 -- or the George Street Festival, with music held in downtown bars across St. John's, to be fun activities in August. But you probably wouldn't expect summer in Newfoundland to be the season for ghost stories. On Friday and Saturday evenings in July and August, stop in to Signal Hill's Queen's Battery Barracks to hear a local folklorist tell spooky, historical stories. For something a bit more laid-back, head one hour south to the Ferryland Lighthouse and enjoy a sunny afternoon lunch with treats from local purveyor Lighthouse Picnics.
Celebrate Canada Day in Festival Capital Montreal
Montreal, the largest city in Quebec, hosts so many festivals (roughly 144 major ones annually), that it's become one of the world's leading festival cities. Since Montrealers clearly know how to celebrate, consider a cruise that coincides with Canada Day (July 1). Montreal's Canada Day Parade has been going strong for more than 40 years and it's followed by free cake -- what more could you want? How about free activities all around the city, fireworks and concerts, including overlap with one of Montreal's most famous jubilees, The Montreal Jazz Festival.
Get Something for Free in New York
New York is notorious for weighing heavy on wallets, but summer in the city is a different animal. Depending on when your ship is in port, events like the Museum Mile Festival, usually in June, offer comped admission into the Big Apple's most famous museums like the Guggenheim or the Met. Brooklyn and Central Park also host a variety of free outdoor concerts called SummerStage throughout the season. Can't afford the Metropolitan Opera? Every August, Lincoln Center Plaza hosts 10 alfresco HD screenings of past Met performances like "La Traviata."
Get a Taste of History, Puppetry and Planes in Saguenay
The Saint Lawrence port of Saguenay, a part of Quebec, has much to offer cruisers in the summer. "The Fabulous Story of a Kingdom" is a staged spectacle recounting the history of Saguenay with more than 100 actors embodying 1,600 personas -- plus animals and special effects -- that runs July through August. If that isn't enough of a show, take the family to the International Festival of Puppetry Arts, held in late July. If you crave more of a macho display, the Bagotville International Air Show, held in June, offers adrenaline-pumping air tricks to thousands of visitors -- free of charge.
Photo: Jean-Francois Rivard/Shutterstock.com
10 Reasons to Cruise Canada and New England in Summer
You May Also Like
Popular on Cruise Critic
You might expect loud noises, close quarters and crazy maneuvers in the dance club onboard your cruise ship -- but not in your cabin. Even if you don't plan to spend much time there, it should be a restful and private place so you can maintain that much-needed vacation stamina. To help you do so, we've compiled a list of cabins you'll want to avoid booking if closet-like dimensions or scraping chair sounds overhead aren't appealing to you. Heed our advice, and you might be feeling a bit less claustrophobic and a tad more refreshed come disembarkation.
Perhaps you're like me and start filling your suitcase a week (or more) before your cruise, armed with a packing list and smart space-saving techniques, like rolling up socks and stuffing them in your shoes. Or maybe you're like my husband, who throws a bunch of clothes into a carry-on at midnight
Your room on a cruise ship is called a cabin (or stateroom) and is akin to a hotel room, but typically much smaller. Choosing a cruise ship cabin can be fun and challenging at the same time, and not just a little bit frustrating on occasion. Cabins fall into different types or "categories," and some cruise lines will present as many as 20 or more categories per ship. Before you get overwhelmed, it's helpful to remember that there are essentially only four types of cabins on any cruise vessel: Inside: the smallest-sized room, with no window to the outside Outside: a room with a window or porthole (a round window) with a view to the outside, often similarly sized to an inside cabin or a bit larger; also known as oceanview Balcony: a room featuring a verandah that allows you to step outside without going up to a public deck Suite: a larger cabin, often with separate living and sleeping areas, and a wide variety of extra amenities and perks It's the permutations (size, view, location, amenities and price, for example) of the four basic cabin types that can make choosing difficult. In addition to knowing your cabin options, you need to know yourself: Do you tend to get seasick? Do you prefer to nest peaceably on your balcony rather than hanging with the crowd around the pool area? Conversely, is your idea of a stateroom simply a place to flop into bed at 1 a.m. -- no fancy notions necessary? Are there certain amenities you are willing to splurge on, or can you simply not justify paying for unnecessary perks? The answers will help guide you toward selecting the best stateroom for your money. If you're feeling overwhelmed by choice, we'll help you get started with this guide to choosing the best cruise cabins for you and your travel party.
The moment you step aboard a luxury cruise ship, a hostess is at your arm proffering a glass of bubbly while a capable room steward offers to heft your carry-on as he escorts you to what will be your home-away-from-home for the next few days. You stow your things (likely in a walk-in closet) and then emerge from your suite to get the lay of the ship. As you walk the decks, friendly crew members greet you ... by name. How can that be? You just set foot onboard! First-class, personalized service is just one of the hallmarks of luxury cruise lines. You can also expect exotic itineraries, varying degrees of inclusivity in pricing, fine wines and gourmet cuisine as well as universally high crew-to-passenger ratios. That being the case, you might think any old luxury cruise ship will do, but that's not quite true. Like people, cruise ships have their own unique personalities -- and some will be more suited to your vacation style than others. Lines like SeaDream might not offer the most spacious suites, but their intimate yachts can stealthily visit ports that large ships can't manage. Regent Seven Seas and Oceania Cruises are owned by the same parent company but Regent offers a completely inclusive vacation experience, while Oceania draws travelers with a more independent streak. Take a look at Cruise Critic's list of best luxury cruise lines and ships to see which one resonates with you.