Cruise and Beach Destinations
in the Caribbean, Mexico & Beyond
U.S. - Canada

New England Cruise Ports of Call

Bar Harbor lighthouse
Bar Harbor lighthouse. Credit: Frank Winkler, Pixabay Creative Commons license

A New England and Canada cruise is a chance to escape the heat during the summer and see beautiful foliage during the fall.

The cruise season begins quietly in late spring every year and grows in activity until reaching a high point in September. Winter and spring are good times to plan for a New England and Canada cruise to get the best available cabins, dates and prices. But September is the best month to go.

One major travel booking website showed a total of 10 New England cruises starting in early May, 13 in June, 11 in July, 12 in August, 50 in September, 35 in October and two in November. The other months of the year had none.

The above numbers show the cruises are most popular in September. It means they attract cruisers who want to see the vibrant and changing colors of the trees and forests. Although New England cruises are also popular in October, they are best taken early in the month because of dropping temperatures and the approach of winter.

It is possibly no small coincidence that September is the most active month of the Caribbean hurricane season. So repeat cruisers who embark from the east coast of the United States may find another reason to travel north rather than south. They just shouldn’t count on warm beaches of soft white sand.

Like Alaska cruises, most New England cruises begin either in the far northern destinations of Canada such as Quebec or Montreal or at mid-Atlantic coastal cities such as New York or Baltimore. New York in particular is a major embarkation port in part because of its massively active airport and many local attractions.

Besides New York City and Baltimore, the most common departure ports at the southern end are Boston, Massachusetts, and Bayonne, New Jersey. Boston is the most northern port of the group, and Bayonne is right next to New York City. Quebec and Montreal are the only major Canadian ports.

Halifax waterfront
Halifax Canada is a popular cruise port. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license

Out of the 50 cruises in September, a total of 35 embarked from the southern U.S. ports and 15 from the northern Canadian ports. Unlike Caribbean cruises, most of them go only in one direction and do not return to their original embarkation ports. It means flying or driving into one city at the beginning of the cruise and flying or driving out of another city at the end of it.

Many of the cruises lasting six to nine days, the most common length, begin at a southern port and ended at a northern port or vice versa. Cruise travelers should plan their airline travel accordingly. Most people who have taken an Alaska cruise are familiar with leaving from one port and ending the trip in another.

A small number of cruises do begin in U.S. ports, travel up to some easy-to-reach Canadian ports and return to their original ports of embarkation.

U.S. Ports of Call

The above embarkation and debarkation ports are major destinations on their own for their historical and cultural attractions.

U.S. ports of call between the embarkation and debarkation ports include some combination of Bar Harbor, Newport and Portland, all of which are on the coast of Maine.

Cruises that leave out of Baltimore, New York City and Bayonne often stop at the more northern port of Boston before going on to Maine and Canada.

Canadian Ports of Call

Canadian ports of call between the embarkation and debarkation ports include some combination of Charlottetown, Gaspe, La Baie, Sydney, Halifax, Saguenay and St. John.

Charlottetown is the capital and largest city of Prince Edward Island province. Halifax and Sydney in Nova Scotia. Gaspe and Saguenay are in Quebec. St. John is in the province of New Brunswick.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
February 17, 2020