Out to Sea: Canadian cruises grow in popularity

Canada has a lot of offer when it comes to cruises, from British Columbia sailings and the Inside Passage, Gulf Islands and rainforests to the culture, history and scenic backdrops of Quebec and the Atlantic provinces.

Both ends of the country are noticing a wave of interest in cruises.

Records have  been set in Atlantic Canada and especially now, with the fall colour cruises starting that often include the New England states.

The people-pleasing port of Halifax is part of that boom welcoming 200 vessels and 300,000 passengers this season from April to November.

Most cruises start or end in Montreal or Quebec City as well as Boston or New York City, with some round-trips.

Quebecers turn out in large numbers on the piers to welcome cruise ship visitors.

Not recalling there are tides on the St. Lawrence River, I looked out our balcony window while getting dressed for “formal night” to discover a group of people looking in.

When we arrived, we were high above the pier but the ship had then dropped at low tide that evening.

In Quebec City, “tourists are won over by the charm and attractions of the city,” said Marie-Andree Blanchet of the Quebec Port Authority. portquebec.ca/en/cruises

Just a short walk from the Ross Gaudrault Cruise Terminal, visitors can discover Quebec through its alleys, fortifications – the only ones north of Mexico – architectural heritage “and, of course, its smiling people,” she said.

The welcoming port is the most-popular destination for cruise passengers among the 400 destinations served by Holland America Line, said public relations director Erik Elvejord.

It was again named one of the Top Three cruise destinations in the world and the top destination in the U.S. and Canada by the online Cruise Critic website.

More than 200,000 cruisers will visit Quebec City this season on about 130 ships, including Celebrity, Crystal, Cunard, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Seabourn.

A big party will welcome the Disney Magic on its inaugural visit, Sept. 26 to 28, with a rousing welcome on the pier.

Place des Canotiers will have locals dressed up as their favourite Disney characters along with entertainment, music and a “pyro-musical” fireworks show.

At the confluence of the St. Charles and St. Lawrence rivers, Quebec is known as the most European city in North America and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Seeing Canada, eh?

A special 12-day Canadian autumn themed sailing on the upscale Seabourn Quest would be of interest to those wanting to vacation in Canada.

This cruise, leaving round-trip from Montreal on Sept. 19, stays solely within Canada along the St. Lawrence and gulf.

It does, however, include a visit to France – the islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, “self-governing territorial overseas collectivities” of that country off the coast of Newfoundland.

The itinerary also includes stops at Havre-Saint-Pierre; L’Anse aux Meadows; St. Johns for two nights; Cap-aux-Meules; Quebec City; and Trois-Rivieres.

There also are single days sailing the St. Lawrence including the Saguenay Fjord and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

To find out more about Quebec City cruises: portquebec.ca/en/cruises and for cruise line information and links: cruising.org

Jim and Barb Fox can be reached at outtosea50@hotmail.com For more Out to Sea trip tips: http://outtoseatravel.blogspot.ca

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