Cruising the Coast of Eastern Canada

| August 1, 2008

For an affordable and easy getaway cruise, these Canadian ports are historically charming and rife with natural beauty.

Even More to See on Smaller Vessels But to get a real taste of the area, smaller expedition vessels afford you the time and the maneuverability to get into the most dramatic features. These "adventure" cruise lines include Adventure Canada, Arctic Odysseys, Cruise North Expeditions and Polar Star Expeditions.

These regional lines have had ships plying the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador for several years. New this year is Canadian Sailing Expeditions' Caledonia which is sailing on four and seven´┐Żday cruises out of Corner Brook in western Newfoundland through August 31. From September 7 to October 11, the line will offer five Nova Scotia itineraries.

Lindblad Expeditions' new ship, the National Geographic Explorer, will come to the region in 2008 and 2009. Lindblad became the official cruise line for National Geographic Cruises several years ago and they are highly respected for offering some of the best adventure and expeditionary cruises anywhere.

What's the Attraction? Places and Things to See Newfoundland and Labrador have become increasingly popular with adventure and expedition cruise lines, especially on itineraries sailing to the Arctic or originating in Iceland or Greenland.

Labrador boasts one of Canada's newest national parks, the largely inaccessible Torngats and Newfoundland has two UNESCO World Heritage sites: Gros Morne National Park and L'Anse aux Meadows, a Viking site that is the earliest known European settlement in North America.

Saint John, New Brunswick is Canada's oldest incorporated city, sometime around 1785. Not only does it have an unusually active and vibrant downtown area, but also it is surprisingly close to many natural wonders. Visitors can ride in a boat to experience the highest tides in the world reverse the flow of the mighty Saint John River, creating the famous Reversing Falls, a waterfall that changes direction depending on the direction of the tide.

The Bay of Fundy ecosystem offers tours for bird watching, whale watching and canoe or kayak tours. Or guests can see some of the area's famed covered bridges by renting a car or bicycle in town. In town, visitors can explore the oldest market in North America, started in 1876, or visit the New Brunswick Museum, Canada's oldest continuing museum, to journey back through 350 million years of natural history.

Halifax is a bustling seaport with local charm and history to keep the visitor amused and enthralled. A great place to start a walking tour is at the Citadel (1826-56) which offers panoramic views of the city. Next, wander down the steep streets past Victorian gardens to the wharf-side Historic Properties -- the oldest surviving waterfront warehouses in Canada. Restored to their 19th century glory, they now house restaurants, bars and shops.

Showcasing the city's rich sailing heritage, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic has a permanent exhibit dedicated to the Titanic. The city was the landing point for the ships that came to rescue the lifeboat survivors of the foundered titan. This is also where the newspaper reporters gathered, along with the relatives of passengers on board, awaiting word on who had and who had not survived the world's most infamous sea disaster.

For over 50 years, Pier 21 in Halifax served as Canada's Ellis Island, where more than one million immigrants and refugees passed through to enter the country. Today this is Canada's immigration museum.

St. John's, the capital of Newfoundland, is a colorful city with Victorian architecture, heritage shops and a lively arts scene. The city center expanded from its colorful waterfront and today's visitors can meander down quaint side streets lined with brightly-colored 19th-century row houses.

Rising up over the "harbour," Signal Hill offers great views and is crowned by Cabot Tower. Dating from 1897, this castle was built for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee and the 400th anniversary of John Cabot's arrival in the New World. The city's top cultural attraction, The Rooms, is a striking modern complex housing a museum, an art gallery with 7000 works and historic archives.

Charlottetown, on Prince Edward Island, is known for its Victorian mansions, rife with flower-filled gardens. Disembarking from their ship, passengers can follow the boardwalk to explore quaint boutiques, craft shops and charming cafes, then wander through tree-shaded squares. More active passengers are known to take on the challenge of bicycling at least a portion of the island's 173-mile Confederation Trail which winds through forest, farmland and along sandy beaches. The more literary minded might choose to visit the "home" of Anne of Green Gables, the house that served as the setting for the acclaimed children's classic, currently celebrating its 100th anniversary.

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Vacations in Nova Scotia

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