St. John's (Newfoundland) (Photo:Jarmo Piironen/Shutterstock)
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Cruise Critic Staff

Port of St. John's (Newfoundland)

Come to St. John's, Newfoundland for the whales, puffins and icebergs. Stay for the rollicking Irish pubs, delectable cod tongues, toe-tapping Celtic tunes and funky craft shops. The capital of Canada's Newfoundland and Labrador province, St. John's is a quirky kind of place, in a friendly, lovable way.

About St. John's (Newfoundland)


Pro

This colorful waterfront town has no shortage of charm and fresh seafood

Con

Sales tax in Newfoundland is quite steep

Bottom Line

St. John's offers an enticing mix of cultural, natural and historical attractions -- plus plenty of pubs


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St. John's claims North America's easternmost seaport and the closest one to Europe, so it's little wonder it claims to be the continent's oldest city. Beginning in the mid-1500s, Europeans regularly sailed across the pond to Newfoundland during the summer to exploit its fish-rich waters, while returning to their families and creature comforts for the winter. By the early 1800s, Irish and English immigrants were encouraged to settle in year-round. Some chose St. John's as a base, thus giving the city its decidedly Anglo spirit.

Perhaps because it's located on an island, one surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the Labrador Sea and Gulf of St. Lawrence, St. John's has kept itself a charming mix of old and new. Major streets parallel the waterfront, while historic footpaths (now side streets) meander up the hillside, creating irregular routes. Ancient stone stairways still climb hills too steep for paved roads. They're all part of St. John's homey, easy-going ambiance.

Where You're Docked

Ships dock in the heart of town, at piers 10 and 11 alongside Harbour Drive. When two ships call, the smaller vessel docks at pier 17. If you don't have an exact address, no worries. You'll be able to see your ship from all over town.

Good to Know

Don't confuse St. John's, Newfoundland, with Saint John, New Brunswick (it's easy to do because both are cruise ports found on Atlantic Canada itineraries). And, when setting your watch, note that Newfoundland has its own time zone. It's an hour and a half ahead of Eastern Standard Time.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

The Canadian dollar is the official currency. Visit www.xe.com and www.oanda.com for current rates. ATMs are easy to find in banks and the lobbies of larger hotels. Most shops and some taxis accept credit cards.

Language

English is the official language. After a few pints at the pub, you might have a hard time understanding the accents or local slang. "Now the once," for example, means "a little later in the day."

Shopping

It's worth buying a bottle of Screech Rum, a high-proof spiced rum, for the fun name on the label alone. A shot of Screech and kissing a cod fish serve as integral parts of being "Screeched in," a hilarious ceremony at a bar or on an excursion that welcomes mainlanders to the island of Newfoundland. For a sweeter foodie option, bring home berry jams, especially those made from bakeapple (aka cloudberry) and partridgeberry.