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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sailing, sailing in Canada and New England



   Out to Sea for August 17/13

   (c) By Jim and Barb Fox

   Growing numbers of people are discovering that a great way to explore Atlantic Canada and New England is by cruise ship.
The lighthouse on the rocks at Peggy's Cove is a popular tourist attraction on cruise ship shore excursions from Halifax. (Jim Fox photo)
   Leisurely seven-to 10-day cruises enjoying Canada's “natural” air-conditioning in the summertime and fresh ocean and St. Lawrence River breezes are a big draw.
   It used to be the Maritimes were a prime fall foliage cruise destination, and still are, but there’s a much longer season now from April to November.
   Cruising isn’t just for tropical island getaways and hot fun in the wintertime as record numbers of people are sailing in Atlantic Canada.
   A record 660,000 cruisers on 25 cruise lines that ply these placid waters will visit this season, a more than 10-per-cent jump over the past two years, the Atlantic Canada Cruise Association says.
A deer makes a run for it along the Cabot Trail on a cruise ship shore excursion. (Barbara Fox photo)
  There’s an ever-changing panorama on these voyages along with the charms of quaint towns and diverse cultures and attractions.
   Our cruises here weren’t just idle days at the beach – save that for the wintertime – but “port-intensive” itineraries, discovering a new place every day.
   Just pick the port to start including Montreal, Quebec City, Boston, New York, Cape Liberty, N.J. and Baltimore either roundtrip or one way.
   Watch for repositioning cruises in the fall and spring when ships move to new seasonal ports, including starting in Canada-New England and ending in Florida, or the reverse.
When entering Maine by ship from Canada, the landmark Portland Head Light comes into view. (Jim Fox photo)
   Chow down
   Sightseeing excursions include clambakes on private islands, Broadway shows, culinary tours in the Italian North End of Boston and hiking the Freedom Trail.
   There are walking tours around Quebec City, tours of the Bay of Fundy by jet boat and visiting lighthouses in Maine.
   En route, cruisers can sample such regional fare as lobster and clam chowder along with French culture and Nova Scotia's ports of Sydney and Halifax.
   Go mountain biking through Maine's Acadia National Park and then shop ‘til you drop in Freeport, home of L. L .Bean, and visit Oak Bluffs with its colourful gingerbread cottages on Martha's Vineyard, Mass.
Gingerbread cottages populate Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard, Mass. (Barb Fox photo)
   Sail the coast of Nova Scotia on a schooner and discover Quebec's Montmorency Falls.
   A sample itinerary from one of our Holland America cruises from Montreal to New York included dinner at the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac hotel overlooking the harbour in Quebec City.

   Whale watching
   Then it was a sailing along the placid Saguenay Fjord in Quebec to look for beluga whales and under the Confederation Bridge, linking New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
   At Charlottetown, tourists head to the Anne of Green Gables homestead while at Sydney don't miss the Cabot Trail and summer home of telephone pioneer Alexander Graham Bell in Baddeck.
   In Saint John, N.B., we viewed wildlife while walking the boardwalk at Irving National Park, saw the reversing falls and dropped by the busy farmer's market.
   Halifax offered a chance to tour the vibrant city, have a lobster feast and travel to Peggy's Cove, the rustic fishing village with its most photographed lighthouse on the rocks.
   In Maine, the landmark Portland Head Light comes into view while Kennebunkport offered a view of the summer home of the George Bush family.
   Bar Harbor has quaint shops near the pier and Cadillac Mountain, highest point on the U.S. east coast, with views of Frenchman's Bay and the ship at anchor.
Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia (Jim Fox photo)
   Boston is known for the hangouts made famous by John Hancock, Paul Revere and Samuel Adams.
   Then, have a pint at the Cheers-Beacon Hill bar and baked beans and chowder at Ye Olde Union Oyster House, oldest restaurant in the U.S., before the trip ends in the Big Apple.

   Need to know
   Holland America Line is making a big commitment to Canada-New England cruises with three ships offering cruises through October.
   The Maasdam and Veendam have seven-night itineraries from/to Boston-Quebec City-Montreal from $447 a person (inside cabin) and $595 (ocean view).
   The Eurodam has 10-day fall foliage cruises New York-Quebec City from $696 (inside) and $895 (ocean view).
   Other offerings include Carnival, Celebrity, Crystal, Cunard, Oceania, Norwegian, P&O, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean International, Seabourn, Silversea and Swan Hellenic. Expedition lines include Adventure Canada, Lindblad and Wanderbird.
   To plan a cruise: cruiseatlanticcanada.com; (902) 273-3330; or cruising.org

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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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