As native New Englanders, we sometimes take the fall foliage for granted. For many travelers around the world, this seasonal change is a sight to behold; hence, it is the peak of the cruise season in New England. A host of cruise ships call on some of our favorite spots from mid September to the end of October.
However, there is a lot more to a Canada/New England cruise than just the leaves. In fact, the coastal towns spanning from New York City to Halifax offer cruisers an array of pleasant surprises. So, even if taking pictures of brightly colored trees is not reason enough to take a fall foliage cruise, we have 10 reasons why you should consider sailing in our neck of the woods. If nothing else, you can stop in and say hello!
10 Reasons to Take a Fall Foliage Cruise
You can’t beat the autumn weather in the Northeast. The hot, humid days of the summer are gone, and the snowy winter has yet to arrive. These moderate temperatures make the fall season a great time for sightseeing and cruising. If you visit in September, temperatures at some ports of call could still hover in the 70’s to 80’s, but by the time you hit October, daytime temps are typically in the 50’s and 60’s. Keep in mind, the temperatures will get cooler the further north you venture on your cruise. Therefore, a light jacket, sweater, or vest is essential, as are layers.
The Cruise Ships
If you decide to take a fall foliage cruise, you will have an abundance of cruise ship options. This year, Norwegian Cruise Line offers one-way trips on Norwegian Dawn and Norwegian Gem, as well as round-trip sailings from New York on Norwegian Escape. Royal Caribbean offers one way cruises on Adventure of the Seas, as well as round-trip cruises on Anthem of the Seas from Cape Liberty, NJ or Serenade of the Seas from Boston, MA. The recently transformed Carnival Sunrise is also here to let you take in the views offering round-trip itineraries from New York. Princess Cruises’ Regal Princess makes her way up north during the fall foliage cruise season as does Celebrity Cruises’ recently revolutionized Celebrity Summit. There are plenty of other premium and luxury ships that also cruise our cool waters in the Fall.
Our local cuisine is reason enough to take a fall foliage cruise. Portland, ME is home to the one and only Maine Lobster, but the waters off these coasts are home to other seafood delights as well. You can enjoy a rich and creamy cup of New England clam chowder or some Rhode Island style calamari (fried squid). There are also plenty of sweet treats including maple syrup and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream nearby in Vermont. When in Saint John, New Brunswick, be sure to chow down on the British style fare, along with the traditional Canadian seafood offerings. Make sure to save room for all these local favorites.
Along with some authentic New England eats, you will need to sample our beloved drinks. The micro beer renaissance in the United States got started with a couple of Boston brands, Harpoon Brewery and Sam Adams. You can tour these facilities or at least enjoy a sip or two of these local brews. Several wineries up and down the U.S. and Canadian Atlantic coast also offer their own varietals. You could take a wine tour while stopped in port or just grab a few bottles to take home with you.
When you take a fall foliage cruise to New England, you can reconnect with the ocean even while docked in port. Survey the local islands, inlets, and coastal communities on a harbor cruise. Or, step back in time and sail on an authentic tall ship. See a river reverse course at the famous Reversing Rapids in Saint John, New Brunswick. Man your own vessel as you kayak to discover places that large vessels can not enter. Whatever you choose, it is sure to be a great time.
Each port of call has a unique culture and history. Learn more about the founding of the United States by trekking Boston Freedom Trail. Learn more about the sinking of the Titanic and the aftermath of the tragedy when in Halifax, Nova Scotia. See the 19th century summer mansions of the rich and famous in Newport, RI or the Victorian era architecture and historic homes of Portland, ME. No matter what cities you visit during your fall foliage cruise, you will find a rich and vibrant history that is worthy of exploring.
Depending on when you cruise, you might still have a chance to visit “America’s Most Beloved Ballpark”, Fenway Park, to watch the Boston Red Sox. There is also the opportunity for some American football either pre-cruise or post cruise if you decide to spend a few extra days in the Northeast. Our home team, the New England Patriots, plays just outside of Boston, and the New York Jets and Giants can be found nearby New York/Cape Liberty. If your cruise ship stops in Newport, RI, you can take a skip over to the International Tennis Hall of Fame located not far from your tender docking location.
Fall is the perfect time of year to see some beautiful creatures on land and sea. Whale watching off the coast of Maine and Eastern Canada is popular as humpbacks and other species are known to frequent these waters this time of year. You can also choose to navigate the tranquil waterways for seal, porpoise, and other wildlife sightings. If you’d rather stay on land, you can discover some unique birds in both New Brunswick and Nova Scotia with hundreds of migrant sightings possible including bald eagles, cormorants, and the cute penguin-like puffins.
Yes, our warm hospitality, accents, and wicked sense of humor are among the most distinct of all U.S. stereotypes. From the Boston bravado to the laid back Maine way of life, most of those caricatures are not too far off. When you visit any of the ports of call on your fall foliage cruise, you will meet some down to earth people who love where they live and what they do. Let them show you what New England and Eastern Canada have to offer during your time on land.
Oh Yeah, The Scenery
We almost forgot! If you plan to take a fall foliage cruise, you should pack your camera. Along with the quaint historic towns and seaside restaurants, there are the beautiful autumn colors. Mountain vistas filled with brightly colored trees and the maple lined streets flowing with amber colored leaves are a photographer’s dream. Get inspired as you walk the trails of Arcadia National Park in Maine or as you sail by the rocky coasts and hundred year old lighthouses. There is no better time of year to discover the New England area than the fall. We hope our Top Reasons to Take a Fall Foliage Cruise have convinced you to visit!
What are your top reasons to take a fall foliage cruise? Have you traveled to New England and Canada via cruise ship? Drop us an anchor below to share your experiences traveling in this region of the world.