Saguenay (Photo:almanino/Shutterstock)
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Diane Bair
Cruise Critic Contributor

Port of Saguenay

Get ready to be dazzled. A true natural wonder, the Saguenay River (Sag-uh-NAY) Fjord is the fourth largest fjord in the world and the southernmost navigable fjord in North America. Sculpted by ancient glaciers, the 60-mile-long, one-mile-wide fjord is lined with towering cliffs up to 1,150 feet tall, and it plunges to depths of up to 900 feet. Slipping through this magnificent fjord will be one of the highlights of your trip, whether you visit in summer when the hillsides are shrouded in green or in autumn when the scenery is bathed in russets and gold.

A trip through the fjord -- perhaps with a beluga sighting or two -- will be your introduction to the port. Saguenay itself is a city with several boroughs, linked with nearby Lac Saint-Jean as a tourism region. The area is a true outdoor playground for Quebecoise, drawing folks from more urban areas like Quebec City, 130 miles to the south. The port area is called La Baie, while the downtown and cultural districts are in nearby Chicoutimi, about a half-hour drive from the cruise terminal.

Figuring out where you are and where you want to go might be confusing if not for the helpful, friendly folks who welcome you to the port and the resources available in the cruise terminal. Although there are interesting cultural attractions -- including a rousing musical show staged by volunteers that's been running for 27 years -- you'll probably be captivated by the wild, woodsy beauty of the national parklands along the fjord and the myriad cool ways you can explore the fjord -- on foot, by land tour, via kayak or even by helicopter. Can't decide? There's always the option of the hop-on, hop-off bus, a great way to get an overview of this engaging area.

About Saguenay


Pro

Helpful and friendly locals at the terminal will put on a magic show and offer directions to attractions

Con

There's not much to do in Saguenay for those not interested in nature and culture

Bottom Line

The main draw there is the awe-inspiring Saguenay Fjord, the world's fourth largest


Find a Cruise to Saguenay

Where You're Docked

Ships dock at La Baie, a borough of the city of Saguenay on the shores of Ha Ha Bay, where you might see kite-boarders launching from Mars Park along the shoreline. After a memorable greeting from volunteer actors at the show "La Fabuleuse" (the port of Saguenay is famous for its warm welcome), head to the cruise pavilion to gather any needed information.

Good to Know

Just because people speak some English doesn't mean you'll always understand what they mean (which is why aprons printed with local lingo are so popular). The phrase la'la' is often used at the end of a sentence as a reflex.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

Currency is the Canadian dollar. Visit www.xe.com or www.oanda.com for currency-conversion rates. Credit cards are accepted nearly everywhere, especially Visa and MasterCard. Most retail shops and restaurants will accept U.S. dollars but will give you change in Canadian currency. The closest ATM to the cruise terminal is located across the street from Saint-Alphonse church at 632 Boulevard De Grande-Baie Sud.

Language

The region is primarily French speaking, but English is widely spoken and well understood, especially by those in the tourism and service businesses and at the cruise port terminal. Signage is mostly in French, and if you rent a car, note that mileage is given in kilometers.

Shopping

This is blueberry country, so anything bleuet-related (like blueberry jam) will be a tasty reminder of your trip. Look for the blueberry chocolate made by the Trappist monks at the Chocolaterie des Peres Trappistes factory store; they've been making chocolate since 1944. (Reveal your purchase aboard the ship at your own peril; it will disappear in an instant!)

Resident crafters make soap and skin potions, create stunning art glass and weave luxurious soft goods from alpaca yarn. All are readily available, especially if you visit the artisans along the Craftsman Road, a popular shore excursion. If you're amused by local lingo, bring home an apron (you can get these at the cruise pavilion), featuring sayings like Hey, Chose! (You there!), T'as ben pas de genie! (You're one sandwich short of a picnic!) and Fais pas simple! (Stop kidding around!).