Sophisticated travelers have long realized that the New England and Eastern Canada region is a charming vacation destination. New England is the area of the northeastern United States that includes Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. The Atlantic or Eastern Canada region consists of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Quebec. Quaint fishing villages dot the area where the seafaring tradition is alive and well. Although it makes you think about rocky, craggily coastlines, white steeple churches and hearty seafood chowder, don’t be fooled, there’s so much more to see and do!
The Northeast is abundant in history and rich in culture. Bringing your family, particularly children, to New England is like giving them a “live” history lesson! Many of the places where Revolutionary War heroes lived, worked and built the foundation of our nation are preserved and open to the public. As are summer homes, the sizes of which are on par with castles that were built by industrialists. From whaling and fishing, to shipbuilding and seaborne commerce, there are plenty of places to explore the Northeast’s unique maritime heritage, and explore America’s history at the same time. Ah, and the majestic beauty of the area! Especially in the fall when Mother Nature works her magic! The trees ablaze in brilliant oranges, glowing yellows, fiery reds and rich browns draws an inordinate number of “leaf peepers” from mid September through late October.
Is it possible to see it all without spending endless hours behind the wheel of a mini van? It is when you take a cruise to New England and Canada! And you don’t have to wait until the fall to travel. From June through October you can cruise up to New England and Canada leaving from convenient ports in Baltimore, Bayonne, or Boston. Plan a quick 4-night getaway or a leisurely 14-night escape. No traffic to deal with, no checking in and out of hotels, and no restless, antsy children in the backseat!
Let’s start planning your trip by looking at some of the possible ports of call. New England is often called the birthplace of America and no place exemplifies that more than Boston! Spend the day following the Freedom Trail, a 2 ½ -mile walk through the city that leads to 16 important historic sites. One stop is the oldest house in downtown Boston…Paul Revere’s home! Take a tour with a costumed guide and hear the tales of the brave colonialists who dared to challenge Britain and helped establish this great country of ours!
If Newport, Rhode Island is on your itinerary you have to check out the palaces…I mean homes! During America’s 19th -century “Gilded Age”, a period famous for the creation of a modern industrial economy, Newport was the summer social capital of the nation. It’s fun to tour these extraordinary mansions, which allows you a glimpse of what it could be like if you hit a mega-millions jackpot! One not to miss is the Breakers, the 70-room Italian Renaissance style palazzo built for Cornelius Vanderbilt.
Portland, Maine was established by the British in 1632 as a trading and fishing settlement. As industry grew Portland’s waterfront became important for shipping and trading companies. Today the Old Port, once the home of the warehouse district, is a quaint, Victorian district of shops and restaurants in restored commercial buildings. Another Maine port of call is Bar Harbor. After a lunch of what other than Maine lobster, head for Acadia National Park. Here you will appreciate breathtaking views of ocean, mountains, and forests. Maybe you’ll climb the granite peaks, bike along the historic carriage roads or participate in a ranger led hike. However you choose to see it, there’s beauty at every turn.
Halifax, Nova Scotia is one of Canada’s most vibrant and historic cities. Cruise ships dock near the waterfront boardwalk, said to be the longest in the world. Take it nice and easy as you meander in and out of the shops and galleries. Take some time to enjoy a bowl of chowder in one of the many little cafes. If you’re a history buff it’s a short walk (up a BIG hill) to the 19th century star-shaped citadel. Many cruise lines offer a shore excursion there called “Soldier for a Day” where you can experience life in the militia in the 1800’s. Just watch where you aim that cannon! Another great excursion is the idyllic fishing village, Peggy’s Cove. Set on rocky shores, the lighthouse and village are a photographer’s paradise. On a different note, Halifax is known for its connection to the Titanic tragedy. You can explore the role this city had in the aftermath with a visit to the Titanic Museum and graveyard.
Saint John, New Brunswick is on the Bay of Fundy. This is a beautiful port of call. With your camera in hand, head to Fundy National Park and hike to Dickson Falls Trail. It winds through some lovely areas before leading you to the foot of a magical waterfall. While in the area you’ll want to witness the unusual phenomenon of the “Reversing Falls”. At the mouth of the St. John River strong tidal fluctuations of 30 feet reverse the rivers flow for several miles upstream twice daily! That really goes against nature, as we know it! You can get a closer look via a thrilling jet boat ride, but I warn you, hold on tight!
The longer New England / Canada cruises make a stop, sometimes an overnight, in the city of Quebec. This wonderful city can be best explored on foot, particularly within the walls of Old Quebec, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its fun, (especially with kids), to take the funicular to the Chateau Frontenac area. It was at the Chateau that Roosevelt, Churchill and Mackenzie King met to discuss WWII strategies and the views of the St. Lawrence River from the top are amazing! If you have more than a day you may want to take an excursion into the countryside or to Montmorency Falls. These falls are 1.5 times as high as Niagara Falls!
Cruising along the northeast gives you a perception of the New England region of the United States and of Atlantic Canada. It’s an opportunity to sample the highlights of an area abounding in beauty, history and culture. And with the cruise ship captain doing the driving, you’ll never have to hear anyone yelling from the back seat, “Are we there yet?”