Europe and Asia have culture, the Caribbean has clear aquamarine seas, Alaska has everything twice the size it is everywhere else, and New England has leaves -- the kind of leaves that make you think you're in an Edward Hopper painting and the year is . . . well, pretty much any one but this one.
Most folks travel the region by car, but if you want a designated driver, the cruise lines of the world have got you covered. From September though October, lines big and small schedule 4- to 12-night trips sailing from New York, Boston, Montréal, and Québec City, usually round-trip but sometimes one-way north- or southbound. Depending on the size of the ship and the length of the cruise, itineraries may include passing through Nantucket Sound, around Cape Cod, or into the Bay of Fundy or Gulf of St. Lawrence. Some ships traverse the St. Lawrence Seaway or the smaller Saguenay River. Ports typically include Bar Harbor, Maine; Newport, Rhode Island; and the Canadian ports of Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia, and Saint John, New Brunswick. Small ships also have the option of visiting dozens of other, smaller ports, including New London, Connecticut; Portland, Maine; Fall River, New Bedford, Nantucket, and Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts; Lunenburg and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; and Corner Brook (Newfoundland).
Here's a rundown of who's going where.
For fall 2006, Carnival Cruise Lines (tel. 800/CARNIVAL; www.carnival.com) will have the 2,758-passenger Carnival Triumph in New England between September 10 and October 1, sailing five 4-, 5-, and 7-night cruises round-trip from New York, visiting Boston, Portland, Sydney, and Halifax. Rates currently start around $750.
Celebrity Cruises (tel. 800/437-3111; www.celebrity.com) has the 1,950-passenger Constellation sailing two 12- and 13-night cruises round-trip from Cape Liberty, N.J., departing September 22 and October 5. Ports and highlights include Highlights include Boston, Bar Harbor, Halifax, Portland, the Saguenay River, and an overnight stay in Quebec City. Rates currently start around $1,600.
Holland America (tel. 877/724-5425; www.hollandamerica.com) is offering eight weeklong fall foliage cruises aboard the 1,266-passenger Maasdam from late August through October, sailing round-trip from Boston and north- or southbound between Boston and Montreal. Ports on round-trip sailings include Newport, Portland, Saint John, Halifax, and Bar Harbor. Ports on one-way itineraries include Bar Harbor, Halifax, Sydney, Charlottetown, Quebec City, and the Saguenay River (plus the St. Lawrence River on southbound cruises). Rates currently start around $1,350.
The newest ship in the New England market this year is Norwegian Cruise Line's 2,376-passenger Norwegian Jewel (tel. 800/327-7030; www.ncl.com), which is set to debut in August and offer two 12- and 13-night European cruises from Dover before heading transatlantic. Beginning September 18 she'll sail a series of four 11-night New England/Canada cruises round-trip from New York, visiting Boston, Bar Harbor, Halifax, Sydney, and Saint John, with cruising time in Cabot Strait, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Saguenay River, and the Bay of Fundy. Rates currently start around $950.
Princess Cruises (tel. 800/774-6237; www.princess.com) has two ships in the region for fall. Beginning September 3, the 2,600-passenger Golden Princess will sail a series of seven weeklong cruises round-trip from New York, visiting Boston, Newport, Bar Harbor, Halifax, and Saint John. Beginning September 24, the 1,950-passenger Sea Princess will make her first New England/Canada cruises, sailing three 10-night one-way cruises north- and southbound between New York and Quebec City. Ports include Newport, Boston, Bar Harbor, Saint John, Halifax, and Corner Brook, with cruising on the Saguenay River. Rates currently start around $750 (Golden Princess), $1,400 (Sea Princess).
At Royal Caribbean (tel. 800/398-9819; www.royalcaribbean.com), the recently refurbished 2,252-passenger Enchantment of the Seas (see review here) will sail out of Boston on 7-night itineraries to Martha's Vineyard, Bar Harbor, Portland, Halifax, and Saint John's, departing September 4, 11, and 18. Rates currently start around $700.
Four luxury lines are making the New England scene this year.
Crystal Cruises (tel. 866/446-6625; www.crystalcruises.com) is offering five 7- to 10-night itineraries aboard the 940-passenger Crystal Symphony in September and October, sailing either round-trip from New York or north- or southbound between New York and Montreal. Ports on the round-trip sailings include Boston, Bar Harbor, Halifax, and Newport. Ports on one-way cruises include Newport, Boston, Bar Harbor, Halifax, and Quebec City, with cruising time on the Saguenay River. Optional sightseeing tours include a Broadway performance and private lunch with the cast of Wicked in New York and an evening theater outing in Boston to see the Blue Man Group or Shear Madness. Rates currently start around $2,200 (7 nights), 3,300 (10 nights).
At Cunard Line (tel. 800/728-6273; www.cunard.com), the mondo 2,620-passenger QM2 will sail one 12-night fall cruise round-trip from New York September 26, visiting Sydney, Corner Brook, Quebec City, Halifax, Portland, Boston, and Newport. Optional sightseeing excursions include a pub tour in Halifax with roving musicians. Rates currently start around $2,450.
At Radisson Seven Seas (tel. 800/477-7500; www.rssc.com), the 490-passenger Seven Seas Navigator will offer 7-, 8-, and 9-night itineraries in September and October, sailing between New York and Montreal. Seven-night cruises visit Quebec City, Halifax, Bar Harbor, and Boston, with sailing time in the St. Lawrence River and the Cape Cod Canal. Eight-night cruises visit Quebec City, Charlottetown, Louisbourg (Cape Breton Island), Halifax, Bar Harbor, and Boston, with sailing time in the St. Lawrence River and the Cape Cod Canal. Nine-night cruises add cruising time on the Saquenay River. The September 16 sailing is a "Spotlight on Jazz" cruise featuring Bucky Pizzarelli. The October 15 sailing features chamber music. Rates currently start around $3,200 (7 nights), $4,050 (9 nights).
At Seabourn (tel. 800/929-9391; www.seabourn.com) the 208-passenger Seabourn Pride will sail seven-day cruises between New York and Quebec City that can be booked as 14-day combination itineraries. September 18 and October 2 sailings (New York to Quebec City) call at Bar Harbor, Lunenburg (Nova Scotia), and Sydney, with cruising time in Long Island Sound, the Cape Cod Canal, and the St. Lawrence River. September 25 and October 9 sailings visit Halifax, Boston, and Newport, with cruising time in the St. Lawrence, Cabot Strait, the Gulf of Maine, and the Cape Cod Canal. A complimentary excursion takes passengers to the Highland Games at Sydney's Gaelic College. Rates currently start around $4,175.
Silversea Cruises (tel. 877/215-9986; www.silversea.com) is offering four 9-, 10-, and 11-night cruises in September and October aboard Silver Whisper. The September 10 cruise (9 nights, Boston to Montreal) visits Bar Harbor, Saint John, Halifax, Sydney, and Corner Brook, with cruising time in Cape Cod Canal. The September 19 cruise (11 nights, Montreal to New York) visits Quebec City, Corner Brook, Sydney, Halifax, Saint John, Bar Harbor, and Boston, with a transit of the Cape Cod Canal. The September 30 cruise (10 nights, round-trip from New York) visits Martha's Vineyard, Sydney, Halifax, Bar Harbor, Boston, Newport, and Portland. October 10 (11 nights), the ship sails New York to Montreal, calling at Boston, Bar Harbor, Saint John, Halifax, Sydney, Corner Brook, and Quebec City, with a transit of the Cape Cod Canal. Rates currently start around $4,800.
American Canadian Caribbean Line (tel. 800/556-7450; www.accl-smallships.com) offers 12-night fall-foliage cruises aboard the 100-passenger Grande Caribe and Grande Mariner, sailing north- and southbound September and October between the line's Warren, Rhode Island, shipyard and Quebec City. Ports include West Point, Kingston, Troy, Rome, Sylvan Beach, Oswego, Clayton, Alexandria Bay, and Ogdensburg (New York) and Montreal (Quebec), with sailing time in Narragansett Bay, Long Island Sound, New York Harbor, the Hudson River, and among the Thousand Islands. Rates currently start around $2,575.
Connecticut-based American Cruise Line (tel. 800/814-6880; www.americancruiselines.com) offers 7-night fall-foliage Hudson River cruises aboard the 49-passenger American Glory and American Eagle and the 93-passenger American Spirit. Sailing round-trip from New York throughout October, the vessels visit West Point, Catskill, Albany, Kingston, and Sleepy Hollow. Rates currently start around $2,475.
Clipper Cruises (tel. 800/325-0010; www.clippercruise.com) has the 100-passenger Nantucket Clipper in New York and New England throughout October. On September 24 and October 1 she sails on 7-night cruises round-trip from New York up into the Hudson Valley, visiting Kingston, Troy/Albany, and West Point. On October 8 and 15 she sails 7 nights north- or southbound between New York and Boston, visiting Haddam/Mystic Seaport (Connecticut), Newport, New Bedford, and the Cape Cod Canal. October 22 sees the vessel sailing both north and south on a 10-night cruise from New York to Washington, DC, calling at the ports of Kingston, West Point, Annapolis and St. Michaels (Maryland), and Norfolk (Virginia), with cruising time in the Hudson, New York Harbor, the Potomac, and Chesapeake Bay. Rates currently start around $2,150 (7 nights), $3,090 (10 nights).
Starting farther north, the Maine Windjammer Association (tel. 800/807-WIND; www.sailmainecoast.com) offers 3- to 6-night sailings aboard its fleet of small, classic, wind-powered schooners from Rockland, Rockport, and Camden, Maine, through early October. Rates currently run from about $400 to $875. Click here for a rundown of the fleet.
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