Halifax, Nova Scotia's capital city and the gateway to Atlantic Canada, has numerous identities. Home to the second-largest natural harbor in the world, it draws a major share of Canada's container trade and oodles of cruise ship visits in the late summer and early fall (although more recently, ships are beginning to visit in the early summer months). A few streets inland, there are many sights to take in, and while gorgeous coastal scenery begins just outside the city limits, especially during the spectacular autumn foliage displays, the waterfront is also a delight to explore.
Halifax also has a strong connection to the sinking of the Titanic since it played a key role during the aftermath of the tragedy. Three of the city's ships were sent out to recover bodies, and so it is the final resting place for many unclaimed victims. In fact, three cemeteries throughout Halifax feature rows of black granite headstones, each inscribed with the same date: April 15, 1912.
But beyond the scenery and history, Halifax is just plain fun. It's a youthful, energetic town, home to several colleges and universities, that boasts a downtown area chock-full of pubs, clubs and cafes, as well as a restored waterfront that once welcomed traders and privateers. Throughout the year, you can enjoy music festivals, outdoor concerts and even old-fashioned Celtic ceilidhs (read: lively folk dances, often accompanied by fiddle).
It's this rich culture that has boosted the Canada and New England region's cruise popularity. (The fact that Halifax is easy to include on short four- or five-day Canadian itineraries is also a draw.) Annually, Halifax hosts more than 130 ship visits between early May and late October from lines that include Carnival, Celebrity, Crystal, Cunard, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Seabourn.