12 best cruises to Canada and New England
Canada and New England cruises are best known for taking mature travelers to experience vibrant autumnal foliage in multiple destinations.
However, the region’s photogenic landscapes, charming ports and fresh local seafood make time ashore uniquely enjoyable for couples and families. Plus, late summer and early fall getaways can be convenient and affordable, especially if you already live on the East Coast.
These cruises, mainly offered from late August through mid-October (although limited June and July dates are also available), sail round trip from New York or Boston or one-way between either city and Montreal or Quebec City.
Itinerary lengths for Canada and New England cruises range from seven to 11 nights. Ships typically call on ports in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, as well as Bar Harbor, Maine, or even Newport, Rhode Island. High-end, smaller-ship cruise lines may offer more in-depth itineraries of 11 to 15 nights, with more inclusions and higher price tags.
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Remember that it’s important to book well in advance if you want to cruise during peak foliage weeks, generally late September to mid-October. Also, Newport, Bar Harbor and some lesser-visited ports on these itineraries do not have cruise piers; transferring to shore via tender boat can be time-consuming, if not difficult or impossible for passengers with mobility challenges.
Here are 12 of the best cruises to Canada and New England to consider.
Carnival: 7-day Canada
Carnival Cruise Line will bring Carnival Venezia to New York in June 2023.
The 4,072-passenger ship, a four-year-old Vista-class vessel formerly in the fleet of Carnival’s sister line Costa Cruises, will offer fun and affordably priced four- to seven-day Canada & New England itineraries from mid-August through late September in 2023 and 2024 — albeit with a decidedly Italian flair.
Despite the name, the seven-night sailings actually skip New England and call on three Canadian ports — St. John, New Brunswick, and Halifax and Sydney in Nova Scotia. They also feature three “fun days at sea.”
Who should go: Both Carnival and Costa are known for large ships with exuberant decor and a party vibe. Carnival Venezia mixes Costa’s glitzy Italian-style dining and bar offerings with Carnival favorites such as Guy’s Burger Joint and Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse.
So, anyone booking these sailings can expect the onboard ambiance to energize the typically sedate Canada and New England experience. The ship is family friendly, with a kids club and Waterworks aquapark on board. It's suitable for all ages — if a lively, social cruise is preferred.
Celebrity: 11-night Boston, Maine & Canada
Celebrity Cruises is offering its 11-night Boston, Maine & Canada itinerary on seven early autumn dates in 2023 and 2024. The round-trip sailings from Boston — three aboard 2,158-passenger Celebrity Summit this year, which are almost sold out, and four on 2,852-passenger Celebrity Eclipse next year — call on ports in Maine (Portland, Rockland or Bar Harbor), Nova Scotia (Halifax and Sydney), Prince Edward Island (Charlottetown), and Quebec (Quebec City, where the ship overnights).
The overnight in Quebec City also offers an opportunity to enjoy one of Canada’s most charming cities after dark. Don’t miss the narrow, cobblestone streets of 400-year-old Old Quebec, with its inviting cafes.
Who should go: This round-trip itinerary is a convenient option for couples or friends seeking to experience the highlights of New England and Canada during the prime late-summer and early-autumn foliage season. Celebrity’s ships are designed with adults in mind. They offer multiple onboard bars and lounges for socializing — and the indoor, adults-only Solarium pool is perfect for relaxation as fall temperatures dip.
Related: From Alaska to the Panama Canal: Here are 9 of TPG’s favorite fall cruise itineraries
Holland America: 11-day Newfoundland & New England Discovery
Not all Canada and New England cruises are timed for leaf-peeping. Holland America’s 11-day Newfoundland & New England Discovery in August 2024 on 1,438-guest Volendam aims to make the most of the region’s late-summer weather.
The cruise embarks in Boston and disembarks in Montreal. In between, Volendam visits seven additional ports (Portland, Maine; St. John, New Brunswick; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Corner Brook, Newfoundland; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; and Saguenay and Quebec City, Quebec). It offers a comprehensive tour of Canada’s Atlantic Provinces and Quebec.
Who should go: Holland America attracts retirees and other passengers in the 60-plus age range. The compact Volendam offers a traditional onboard atmosphere, but foodies should know it offers a limited selection of dining venues and lounges. On the plus side, Volendam’s pool features a retractable roof in case of cool or rainy weather. This particular itinerary has no ports requiring tender transfers, making all destinations accessible to most passengers with disabilities.
Norwegian: 7-night Canada & New England, Newport & Portland
Norwegian Cruise Line has multiple ships cruising almost two dozen Canada and New England itineraries from Boston, New York and Baltimore in 2023 and 2024. For value, convenience and a megaship experience, check out the seven-night Canada & New England: Newport & Portland itinerary sailing round trip from New York aboard 4,266-passenger Norwegian Escape in September and October 2023.
In 2024, 7-night Canada & New England: Bar Harbor & Newport sailings aboard 3,963-passenger Norwegian Breakaway are almost identical. Both call on five ports: Newport, Rhode Island; Portland and Bar Harbor, Maine; St. John, New Brunswick; and Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Who should go: Norwegian’s Breakaway-class ships offer a resort-meets-theme-park experience with a lively onboard vibe appealing to couples, families and groups of friends. That said, the ships lack an indoor pool.
Cruises during the cooler fall months are best suited for those who enjoy the outdoors. Bar Harbor is the gateway to Acadia National Park, and St. John offers access to the Bay of Fundy’s legendary tides. They're also ideal for travelers who appreciate historic architecture. Newport is known for its Gilded Age mansions, and Halifax offers access to the picturesque village of Peggy’s Cove.
Related: Norwegian Cruise Line vs. Carnival Cruise Line: Battle of the big-ship brands
Oceania: 15-night Colonial America
The 15-night Colonial America voyage from Montreal to Miami in late September 2023 aboard Oceania Cruises’ newest ship, the 1,200-passenger Oceania Vista, calls on nine ports along the Eastern seaboard. It offers passengers a range of experiences, from autumnal landscapes to tropical breezes.
The sailing is aboard the Vista, the cruise line’s first new-build ship in more than a decade. It will visit Quebec City and Saguenay in Quebec; Sydney and Shelburne in Nova Scotia; Bar Harbor and Portland in Maine; Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts; New York (with an overnight); and Charleston in South Carolina before passengers disembark in Miami.
Who should go: Oceania’s premium cruise experience appeals to couples seeking an onboard ambiance that combines the ample public spaces of a larger ship with the elegant decor and elevated service of a small luxury vessel. Oceania has long focused on culinary excellence, and Vista was built with fine dining in mind.
The ship offers several new restaurants, including Ember for modern American cuisine and the wellness-focused Aquamar Kitchen, along with guest favorites such as Red Ginger for pan-Asian and Polo Grill for steaks and seafood. The ship also features a new, immersive mixology program.
Princess Cruises: 7-day Canada & New England
Princess Cruises offers multiple seven- to 13-day round-trip and one-way sailings to Canada and New England from New York and Boston in 2023 and 2024.
However, our pick is the seven-day Canada & New England itinerary in 2024, which combines visits to five ports with a cruise aboard one of Princess’ newer Royal-class ships, the 3,360-passenger Enchanted Princess.
Passengers will sail round trip from New York and visit Newport, Rhode Island; Boston, Massachusetts; Bar Harbor, Maine; St. John, New Brunswick; and Halifax, Nova Scotia. Weekly sailings take place from late August to mid-October. (You can sail the same itinerary on the 3,080-passenger Emerald Princess in 2023.)
Who should go: Princess ships, even its newer vessels, offer a more traditional take on cruising that’s popular with couples and groups of friends who enjoy a quieter experience — although the after-dinner sing-a-longs in Crooners piano bar can get lively. Enchanted Princess does lack waterslides, thrill-oriented activities and an indoor pool if those amenities are important to you.
Travelers who enjoy dining at different venues each night will appreciate the ship’s five specialty restaurants (for an additional cost) and more than half-dozen complimentary dining venues. Don’t miss the excellent Gigi’s Pizzeria, a sit-down restaurant included in the cruise fare.
Related: 6 national parks you can reach by cruise ship
Regent: 11-night Fall Season Colors Boston to Montreal
Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ newest ship, 750-passenger Seven Seas Grandeur, debuts in late 2023. In fall 2024, it will sail a series of Canada and New England itineraries from New York and Boston, as well as Montreal.
The 11-night Fall Season Colors Boston to Montreal sailing Oct. 1, 2024, is timed to allow passengers to enjoy regional foliage at its peak as the ship calls on Portland, Maine; Saint John, New Brunswick; Sydney, Nova Scotia; Corner Brook, Newfoundland; and Havre-Saint-Pierre, Sept-Iles, Saguenay, and Quebec City in Quebec.
Who should go: Regent’s all-inclusive luxury cruises — which include airfare, transfers, onboard beverages and dining, gratuities, Wi-Fi and unlimited shore excursions — have correspondingly luxurious prices. So, passengers are mostly affluent professionals and retirees who enjoy the seamless ease of an all-inclusive sailing offering five-star service.
Connoisseurs of fine dining will be in their element with eight onboard restaurants, which include Chartreuse for fine French cuisine and Pacific Rim for flavorful pan-Asian menus. Plus, passengers can indulge their foodie passions with chef-led classes in the onboard Culinary Arts Kitchen.
Seven Seas Grandeur does not offer an indoor pool for cool-weather swims.
Royal Caribbean: 9-night Canada & New England
Royal Caribbean offers Canada and New England cruises from three cities (Boston, New York and Baltimore) in late summer and fall 2023. To truly experience the Eastern Seaboard, try the nine-night Canada & New England Cruise sailing round trip from Cape Liberty, New Jersey, aboard the 3,798-passenger Liberty of the Seas. The itinerary visits Boston; Portland and Bar Harbor in Maine; Halifax, Nova Scotia; and St. John, New Brunswick.
Who should go: Liberty of the Seas is designed to appeal to all ages. A late-August sailing with affordable pricing means a late-summer family getaway is possible, while September and October dates attract more couples and retirees.
Liberty of the Seas doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of Royal Caribbean’s newer, larger ships. However, it does feature waterslides, a kids' aquapark, a FlowRider surf simulator, an ice skating rink, mini-golf, an arcade, 11 dining venues, 10 bars and lounges, Broadway-style entertainment and more. It also boasts an adults-only indoor Solarium pool and several outdoor pools and hot tubs.
Related: 35 Royal Caribbean cruise tips and tricks that will make your voyage better
Seabourn: 12-day Canada & New England Fall Foliage
Enjoying the region’s colorful autumnal landscapes is the primary agenda on Seabourn’s 12-day Canada & New England Fall Foliage cruises, scheduled from late August to early October in both 2023 and 2024 aboard the 458-passenger Seabourn Quest.
These sailings between New York and Montreal visit Newport, Rhode Island; Boston, Massachusetts; Bar Harbor, Maine; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; and Saguenay, Quebec City, and Trois-Rivières in Quebec.
Who should go: Seabourn’s all-inclusive small-luxury-cruise experience is reflected in its fares, so these itineraries require a generous travel budget. As a result, passengers are typically financially well-off couples, including international travelers, who appreciate the fleet’s private-club-style ambiance and personalized service.
All of the ship’s cabins are spacious, ocean-facing suites, and 90% of Quest’s accommodations feature a veranda. The ship might be small, but it still offers four onboard restaurants, including The Grill by Thomas Keller, famed chef of Napa Valley’s French Laundry.
Silversea: 11-day New York to Quebec City
For upscale, door-to-door, all-inclusive cruising to New England and Canada, Silversea Cruises offers almost two dozen options on a wide selection of summer and fall dates. The most comprehensive trip is an 11-day New York-to-Quebec City itinerary in summer 2024 aboard the 388-passenger Silver Shadow.
The itinerary includes calls on Newport, Rhode Island; Boston, Massachusetts; Portland, Maine; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; and Cap-aux-Meules, Saguenay, and Quebec City in Quebec.
Who should go: Silversea passengers are generally wealthy retired couples passionate about cruising on small luxury ships. They appreciate fine wines and elevated dining, such as the French cuisine offered in La Dame, one of four onboard restaurants. Nightlife on Silver Shadow is generally low-key, though there is a small casino.
Silversea’s all-inclusive pricing includes airfare, transfers, gratuities (and butler service), complimentary beverages, and at least one included shore excursion per port.
Viking: 13-day Eastern Seaboard Explorer
Viking’s 13-day Eastern Seaboard Explorer itinerary aboard its identical 930-guest ocean ships, Viking Neptune, Viking Star and Viking Mars, is offered on seven dates in June, July and September 2023, and three dates in August and September 2024.
The one-way sailing travels between New York and Montreal (or vice versa, with overnights in each city), and the ships visit Quebec City, Saguenay, and Gaspé in Quebec; Halifax, Nova Scotia; and Boston.
Who should go: Adults-only Viking appeals to cruisers who appreciate a subdued onboard experience centered around learning about a destination via guest lectures and shore excursions. The cruise line’s passengers tend to be retirement age or older.
Viking’s fans love the ships’ serene Scandinavian-inspired decor, complimentary spa thermal area and pricing that includes wine and beer with lunch and dinner, gratuities and one free shore excursion per port. The ships do not offer an onboard casino, but two pools (one with a retractable roof) offer relaxation during sea days.
Windstar: 11-day Southeast Canadian Explorations
The 11-day Southeast Canadian Explorations itinerary aboard Windstar Cruises’ 312-guest Star Pride cruises between Montreal to Boston in September and October 2023 and September and October 2024. Sailings call on Quebec City, Gaspé (or Baie-Comeau), and Cap-aux-Meules in Quebec; Louisbourg and Halifax in Nova Scotia; and Portland and Eastport (or Bar Harbor) in Maine.
Who should go: Star Pride is one of the smallest ships offering Canada and New England itineraries, so these sailings are ideal for travelers seeking an intimate cruise experience with more casual camaraderie than most other small-luxury-ship cruises. The ship features five onboard restaurants, and staterooms are generously sized (the smallest is 277 square feet).
While cruise fares are not all-inclusive, passengers can pay a daily fee for a package that includes unlimited beer, wine and cocktails, as well as Wi-Fi and crew gratuities.
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