By SARAH JAQUAY
There’s something exhilarating about a fall cruise: Maybe it’s the magic of extending summer with a worry-free vacation; maybe it’s knowing ports won’t be overrun; or maybe it’s just your favorite season: Cool enough to enjoy sightseeing; and, with favorable weather conditions, catch the world ablaze with color, courtesy of dying deciduous trees.
Whether you’re interested in leaf-peeping, historic shore excursions or sampling fresh harvest bounty from New England and Canada’s Maritime provinces, Celebrity Cruises has fall itineraries beckoning travelers from after Labor Day through Columbus Day. Cruises depart from either Cape Liberty, New Jersey (across New York Harbor from lower Manhattan) or from Boston. Several itineraries lead north to Portland or Bar Harbor, Maine, with stops in Nova Scotia, then down the St. Lawrence River to Québec City.
Fall tours usually happen aboard the Celebrity Summit, which has been completely renovated. Here’s a sampling of what guests will lexperience on the Summit: Redesigned staterooms and suites; a new Retreat area exclusively for suite guests with a sundeck and lounge; re-imagined restaurants, bars and lounges, plus a redesigned spa and casino. “Celebrity Summit is one of the most popular ships in the Celebrity Cruises fleet and we’re excited to share the revolutionized design with the world,” said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO, Celebrity Cruises. “Celebrity Summit is better than she’s ever been – with modernized spaces and exciting new experiences. And she’s the first of our ships to feature our partnerships with American Ballet Theatre and [famed New York City] Chef Daniel Boulud.”
“We have a chef’s dinner on every cruise; so I imagine there might be some fresh seafood on this one [Celebrity’s 12-night Boston, Maine & Canada cruise departing Boston September 23, 2019],” notes Letitia Johnson, Celebrity’s central regional marketing manager. This specific itinerary includes stops in St. John, New Brunswick; Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia; Québec City; then Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island and Portland, Maine on the way back to Boston.
Celebrity’s diverse (and separately priced) shore excursions give guests a taste of Canada’s Maritime provinces (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island) and reasons to return. Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of exploring many of these places.
Here are some Canadian ports-of-call highlights that may help guests choose:
St. John on the picturesque Bay of Fundy is known for its geological wonders and high tides. Its Reversing Rapids are a must-see caused by Bay tides colliding with the Saint John River. Foodies may wander over to the Saint John City Market, in an 1876 building filled with food and craft stalls. If Summit cruisers notice Digby scallops on the menu, seize that seafood. Digby is across the Bay from St. John and known for their giant scallops with bright and briny flavors.
Halifax is Nova Scotia’s capital and a fascinating portal to Canada’s Maritimes. There’s plenty to see, do and eat along the Halifax Waterfront, one of the world’s longest downtown boardwalks. If you’re pressed for time, don’t miss the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, which displays the world’s largest collection of wooden Titanic artifacts or the Halifax City and Harbor Duck tour to learn some history, including about the most powerful detonation of explosives before WWII that almost wiped out the city. Halifaxers remain so grateful for the first-aid, supplies and medical help Boston rendered in 1917, they donate a giant Nova Scotia evergreen (a.k.a. the Boston Christmas Tree) to light on Boston Common every December. If a seafood lunch is on your wish list, head to Salty’s. Dine casually downstairs or go upstairs for an elegant experience with superb harbor views.
Sydney is the gateway to Cape Breton Island’s renowned Cabot Trail—considered one of the world’s most scenic hiking, biking and driving thoroughfares. Visitors discover why this wild and rugged landscape reminded Scottish settlers so much of their beloved Highlands.
I recommend getting an overview of the Trail; and if you have the chance to hear some live music (Cape Breton’s Celtic Highway 19 runs down the island’s west side), get ready to be awed by locals who learn to play an instrument almost as soon as they depart their cribs. Cape Breton fiddling is a singular genre. If time permits, catch a ceilidh (pronounced “kaylee”) at The Red Shoe.
Québec City has so much to offer, visitors will have a great experience exploring any quarter. If you’ve never been, don’t miss Old (Vieux) Québec and if you have time for lunch, hit Le Cochon Dingue (the Crazy Pig) on Boulevard Champlain, which may claim the best pulled pork in the province. To understand how Canada got away from the French, visit the Plains of Abraham (Québec City’s Central Park) where the British won the seminal Battle of Québec in 1759. For cognoscenti, I recommend the quick ferry to the historic mansions of Lévis just across the St. Lawrence. The return offers some of the best panoramas of the Old City.
Charlottetown is the capital of Prince Edward Island (PEI.) It’s known for its pristine, wide beaches (although the water’s chilly year-round); its potato farms and as the home of the farm that inspired author L.M. Montgomery to write “Anne of Green Gables.” Anne’s fans might be interested in visiting this farm, the author’s birthplace and even seeing one of the musicals about Anne’s life. Don’t miss the chance to savor some PEI mussels and hand-cut fries.
I recommend The Water-Prince Corner Shop and Lobster Pound where locals go to pick up the fresh catch.
For more information about Celebrity’s fall cruises, please see: celebritycruises.com;
For more information about this story’s itinerary and excursions, see: celebritycruises.com/itinerary-details/12-night-boston-maine-and-canada-cruise-from-boston-massachusetts?packageID=SM12N011&sDT=2020-09-23&cCD=CO