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Port of Sydney Cruise Tips

The Big Fiddle. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license
The Big Fiddle. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license

How can any cruise visitor to Canada’s port of Sydney not want to see the world’s largest fiddle?

They won’t have much trouble finding it or seeing it because the 60-foot-tall fiddle is right at the cruise docks and visitor information center.

Sydney, formerly a city and now part of a regional municipality, is the gateway to New Breton Island. The island is right off the northeast tip of Nova Scotia. It is one of the less common ports of call for New England and Canada cruises.

Cruise visitors can stroll off the ship, take photos of the Big Fiddle and drop into the visitor information center for maps and tips of what to see and do. Historical tours dominate the area attractions of this municipality of 30,000 people.

Attractions and Shore Excursions

Visitors who take a walking tour of Sydney can see the Colonial Town of Old Sydney, which was founded by Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution. There are six buildings from the late 18th century and two more from the beginning of the 19th, according to the Port of Sydney Development Corporation.

The tour also may include Cossit House, built in 1787; the oldest Roman Catholic Church in Cape Breton; Jost House, which has exhibits from the same period; and the Cape Breton Centre for Heritage and Science. Costumed guides are available to take visitors on the cruise ship version of this brief and low-cost tour.

A major attraction outside of Sydney is the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site, which is a 45-minute drive by rental car or excursion bus. It lays claim as the largest historical reconstruction in North America. Visitors will see soldiers and civilians in costumes from the late 18th century as well as take part in interactive exhibits and displays. This highly rated cruise excursion costs $100+ per person including transportation.

Cabot Trail, another well-known attraction and shore excursion, takes visitors along a scenic road trip through Nova Scotia and on to the Skyline Trail and White Point hiking trails. Highlights include an overlook of the “Graveyard of the Gulf” and the northern tip of Cape Breton. This seven-hour excursion usually includes a meal and a more than one-hour excursion bus ride each way. Expect to pay $125 to $150 per person.

Tours to Bras d’Or Lakes include stops at the Nova Scotia Highland Village, a 50-acre living history museum; the village of Baddeck, home of telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell; and the Alexander Graham Bell Museum. Like Cabot Trail, this tour is often about seven hours, includes a meal and costs more than $150 per person.

Excursion costs vary depending on the cruise line, excursion operator, time of year and other factors.

Cruise Weather

Sydney is somewhat cooler and wetter than other Canadian cruise ports during peak cruise season.

The average daytime temperature during the most active month in September is about 65 degrees Fahrenheit or 18 degrees Celsius. Nighttime temperatures dip into the mid 40s Fahrenheit or single digits Celsius.

Rainfall averages just under four inches in August, four and a half in September and nearly six inches in October. Don’t forget to bring an umbrella and light jacket on the cruise, especially for Sydney and depending on the time of year.

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.
July 11, 2022

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