The 10 Best Fall Foliage Cruises

by Kayla Becker

The 10 Best Fall Foliage Cruises

by Kayla Becker

We love fall for so many reasons: The air gets crisp; weekends are spent apple picking, cider sipping, and leaf-peeping. And there are few better ways to catch the rich reds, deep oranges, and vibrant yellows than on a cruise along the rugged coastline of New England and Canada. Sail during peak leaf viewing season, which runs from late September through October, and you’ll see unforgettable landscapes, not to mention eat some amazing seafood. Here are the 10 best fall foliage cruises for catching nature’s most colorful season on display.

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New York's Central Park in the fall / iStock / johnandersonphoto
Norwegian Dawn in NYC
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1. Norwegian Dawn

This boisterous 2,340-passenger ship cruises from its homeport of Boston to Quebec City. You’ll visit all the major leaf-peeping spots (Portland, Halifax, and Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island). There are also stops in Quebec, with time to explore the seaside cliffs and green meadows of Gaspé and the wilderness in Saguenay. You can find similar itineraries on Norwegian Gem and Norwegian Jade, both of which cruise out of New York.

Best Feature: Norwegian refurbished this ship in spring 2016. Not only do the public spaces feel fresh and clean, but the line also added a hip new Mexican cantina. We also love the Garden Villa, a secluded enclave that's home to some of the largest suites at sea (up to 6,693 square feet). These apartment-like staterooms have a butler, living and dining rooms, and a giant private balcony with a hot tub and sun deck.

This boisterous 2,340-passenger ship cruises from its homeport of Boston to Quebec City. You’ll visit all the major leaf-peeping spots (Portland, Halifax, and Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island). There are also stops in Quebec, with time to explore the seaside cliffs and green meadows of Gaspé and the wilderness in Saguenay. You can find similar itineraries on Norwegian Gem and Norwegian Jade, both of which cruise out of New York.

Best Feature: Norwegian refurbished this ship in spring 2016. Not only do the public spaces feel fresh and clean, but the line also added a hip new Mexican cantina. We also love the Garden Villa, a secluded enclave that's home to some of the largest suites at sea (up to 6,693 square feet). These apartment-like staterooms have a butler, living and dining rooms, and a giant private balcony with a hot tub and sun deck.

Portland, Maine
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2. Carnival Sunshine

During the fall, the 3,006-passenger Carnival Sunshine sails four- to seven-day cruises to New England and Canada, round trip from New York. You’ll see the highest tide in the world at Saint John’s Bay of Fundy and the scenic lighthouse of Peggy’s Cove in Halifax before stopping at historic Boston and rugged Portland. These short sailings typically include a sea day or two, when you can fill your time with twisting waterslides, comedy shows, or a relaxing day at the adults-only Serenity Pool.

Best Feature: All that leaf peeping can work up an appetite — try some of the best burgers at sea at Guy’s Burger Joint and great tacos and tequila from BlueIguana. 

During the fall, the 3,006-passenger Carnival Sunshine sails four- to seven-day cruises to New England and Canada, round trip from New York. You’ll see the highest tide in the world at Saint John’s Bay of Fundy and the scenic lighthouse of Peggy’s Cove in Halifax before stopping at historic Boston and rugged Portland. These short sailings typically include a sea day or two, when you can fill your time with twisting waterslides, comedy shows, or a relaxing day at the adults-only Serenity Pool.

Best Feature: All that leaf peeping can work up an appetite — try some of the best burgers at sea at Guy’s Burger Joint and great tacos and tequila from BlueIguana. 

Veendam
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3. Veendam

Can’t choose between the beach or a fall foliage cruise? This 1,350-passenger Holland America ship gives you the best of both worlds on a 13-day Atlantic Coast itinerary. You’ll start in Montreal and cruise down the East Coast, disembarking in sunny Fort Lauderdale. Stops include Quebec City, Prince Edward Island, and Halifax. If you’d rather stay to the north, check out Holland America’s Zuiderdam, which does a 10-day "Colors of Canada and New England" cruise from New York to Quebec.

Best Feature: You don't have to leave the ship to get a taste of New England. Veendam's cruises in the region typically include an on-deck clambake and the ship's Culinary Arts Center offers classes on how to make the perfect clam chowder.

Can’t choose between the beach or a fall foliage cruise? This 1,350-passenger Holland America ship gives you the best of both worlds on a 13-day Atlantic Coast itinerary. You’ll start in Montreal and cruise down the East Coast, disembarking in sunny Fort Lauderdale. Stops include Quebec City, Prince Edward Island, and Halifax. If you’d rather stay to the north, check out Holland America’s Zuiderdam, which does a 10-day "Colors of Canada and New England" cruise from New York to Quebec.

Best Feature: You don't have to leave the ship to get a taste of New England. Veendam's cruises in the region typically include an on-deck clambake and the ship's Culinary Arts Center offers classes on how to make the perfect clam chowder.

American Star on the Hudson River
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4. American Star

If a cruise on a bustling mega ship isn't your ideal vacation, head up New York's Hudson River on this 100-passenger Victorian-style paddle-wheeler from American Cruise Lines. Leaf-peepers get the full kaleidoscope of colors on the seven-day Hudson River Valley cruise, leaving round-trip from Manhattan and stopping in charming New York towns such as West Point and Sleepy Hollow. Other routes include an eight-day New England Islands itinerary round trip from Providence and a seven-day Chesapeake Bay cruise round-trip from Baltimore

Best Feature: There's a sweet slow pace on board American Star, where you can watch the scenery from rocking chairs on deck, and the most adrenaline-pumping activity is the putting green on deck. The onboard entertainment is also pure Americana, focusing on U.S. history and music.

If a cruise on a bustling mega ship isn't your ideal vacation, head up New York's Hudson River on this 100-passenger Victorian-style paddle-wheeler from American Cruise Lines. Leaf-peepers get the full kaleidoscope of colors on the seven-day Hudson River Valley cruise, leaving round-trip from Manhattan and stopping in charming New York towns such as West Point and Sleepy Hollow. Other routes include an eight-day New England Islands itinerary round trip from Providence and a seven-day Chesapeake Bay cruise round-trip from Baltimore

Best Feature: There's a sweet slow pace on board American Star, where you can watch the scenery from rocking chairs on deck, and the most adrenaline-pumping activity is the putting green on deck. The onboard entertainment is also pure Americana, focusing on U.S. history and music.

Seven Seas Navigator
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5. Seven Seas Navigator

There are two different leaf-filled itineraries to choose from with this 490-passenger luxury ship: an 11-day East Coast cruise from Miami to Montreal and a 12-day round-trip from New York City. On the East Coast cruise, you’ll overnight in New York (meaning you can catch a Broadway show in the evening!) and visit the off-the-beaten-path port of Sept-Îles, Canada, as well as fall hotspots like Quebec City and Montreal. Seven Seas Mariner will also do a 10-night New York to Montréal cruise.

Best Feature: When Regent says all-inclusive, they really mean it. Your fare includes round-trip airfare, hotel stays, unlimited Wi-Fi, transfers, gratuities, unlimited drinks, and excursions.

There are two different leaf-filled itineraries to choose from with this 490-passenger luxury ship: an 11-day East Coast cruise from Miami to Montreal and a 12-day round-trip from New York City. On the East Coast cruise, you’ll overnight in New York (meaning you can catch a Broadway show in the evening!) and visit the off-the-beaten-path port of Sept-Îles, Canada, as well as fall hotspots like Quebec City and Montreal. Seven Seas Mariner will also do a 10-night New York to Montréal cruise.

Best Feature: When Regent says all-inclusive, they really mean it. Your fare includes round-trip airfare, hotel stays, unlimited Wi-Fi, transfers, gratuities, unlimited drinks, and excursions.

Bar Harbor, Maine
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6. Regal Princess

Classic meets contemporary on this 3,560-passenger mega ship, known for its bustling central piazza with live performances. You have a few options to get in the fall spirit here; the first is a five-day round trip from New York that focuses on Canada, dedicating port days to Saint John’s Bay of Fundy and Halifax, Nova Scotia. The second is a seven-day round-trip from New York that hits Newport, Rhode Island, Boston, and Bar Harbor in addition to the Canadian ports.

Best Feature: Even though this is a mega ship, you can still find spots to hide away, like the Lotus Spa or the cabanas at the Sanctuary, an adults-only oasis.

Classic meets contemporary on this 3,560-passenger mega ship, known for its bustling central piazza with live performances. You have a few options to get in the fall spirit here; the first is a five-day round trip from New York that focuses on Canada, dedicating port days to Saint John’s Bay of Fundy and Halifax, Nova Scotia. The second is a seven-day round-trip from New York that hits Newport, Rhode Island, Boston, and Bar Harbor in addition to the Canadian ports.

Best Feature: Even though this is a mega ship, you can still find spots to hide away, like the Lotus Spa or the cabanas at the Sanctuary, an adults-only oasis.

Oceania Regatta in Quebec City
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7. Oceania Regatta

This elegant, 684-passenger ship offers two great chances to see the leaves in all their glory. You can take a 10-day cruise from New York to Montreal with lots of port time: the long itinerary only has one sea day, when it cruises the St. Lawrence River. Or, take a 14-day cruise from Montreal to warmer climes in Miami, adding an overnight in Norfolk, Virginia and stops in Charleston and Port Canaveral along the way. Both itineraries focus on ports including Newport, Portland, Bar Harbor, Halifax, and Quebec City.

Best Feature: From the custom stone and tile work to the neo-classical furnishings, there are lots of luxe touches on board. We suggest treating yourself to the Canyon Ranch SpaClub.

This elegant, 684-passenger ship offers two great chances to see the leaves in all their glory. You can take a 10-day cruise from New York to Montreal with lots of port time: the long itinerary only has one sea day, when it cruises the St. Lawrence River. Or, take a 14-day cruise from Montreal to warmer climes in Miami, adding an overnight in Norfolk, Virginia and stops in Charleston and Port Canaveral along the way. Both itineraries focus on ports including Newport, Portland, Bar Harbor, Halifax, and Quebec City.

Best Feature: From the custom stone and tile work to the neo-classical furnishings, there are lots of luxe touches on board. We suggest treating yourself to the Canyon Ranch SpaClub.

Prince Edward Island
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8. Celebrity Summit

Fall's colors are definitely on display during this 2,158-passenger ship's 14-night round-trip cruises from Cape Liberty in New Jersey. The itinerary includes Halifax, Prince Edward Island, and an overnight in Quebec City before making its way to Bar Harbor, Portland, and Boston for all the lighthouses and lobster you've been waiting for. On this itinerary, you’ll get five sea days, a great opportunity to take in the ship's avant-garde nighttime parties, Sin City stand-up comedy, and the popular "Top Chef" Quickfire Challenge.

Best Feature: After a chilly fall day exploring, you can melt into the heated thalassotherapy pool in the solarium. Celebrity Summit also got a makeover in March 2016 to add a Rooftop Terrace and the Spa-class restaurant Blu. 

Fall's colors are definitely on display during this 2,158-passenger ship's 14-night round-trip cruises from Cape Liberty in New Jersey. The itinerary includes Halifax, Prince Edward Island, and an overnight in Quebec City before making its way to Bar Harbor, Portland, and Boston for all the lighthouses and lobster you've been waiting for. On this itinerary, you’ll get five sea days, a great opportunity to take in the ship's avant-garde nighttime parties, Sin City stand-up comedy, and the popular "Top Chef" Quickfire Challenge.

Best Feature: After a chilly fall day exploring, you can melt into the heated thalassotherapy pool in the solarium. Celebrity Summit also got a makeover in March 2016 to add a Rooftop Terrace and the Spa-class restaurant Blu. 

Le Boréal
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9. Le Boréal

With just 264 passengers, this luxurious mega yacht is both intimate and elegant. You'll find chic, contemporary interiors on board, and passengers and crew that are mostly French (not a bad touch when cruising through Quebec). Choose from two itineraries with stops that are off the beaten path, including a 10-day cruise from Quebec City to Boston, stopping at ports including Havre-Saint-Pierre, Percé, and Louisbourg. Or take a 10-day round trip from Boston focusing on New England ports like Bar Harbor, Salem, and New York.

Best Feature: Due to its small size, the ship can stop at smaller ports mega ships can’t reach or often skip over, including Canada’s Lunenburg, the Magdalen Islands, and Tadoussac.

With just 264 passengers, this luxurious mega yacht is both intimate and elegant. You'll find chic, contemporary interiors on board, and passengers and crew that are mostly French (not a bad touch when cruising through Quebec). Choose from two itineraries with stops that are off the beaten path, including a 10-day cruise from Quebec City to Boston, stopping at ports including Havre-Saint-Pierre, Percé, and Louisbourg. Or take a 10-day round trip from Boston focusing on New England ports like Bar Harbor, Salem, and New York.

Best Feature: Due to its small size, the ship can stop at smaller ports mega ships can’t reach or often skip over, including Canada’s Lunenburg, the Magdalen Islands, and Tadoussac.

Halifax, Nova Scotia
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10. Vision of the Seas

The 10- to 13-day "Fall Foliage" itinerary on this 2,050-passenger Royal Caribbean ship takes you between Quebec City and Cape Liberty in New Jersey (or vice versa), making stops in prime leaf-viewing ports, including Halifax, Bar Harbor, and Portland. You’ll have plenty of adrenaline-pumping entertainment options along the way, from aerial acrobatics shows to a rock climbing wall. (Just imagine the view you’ll get from the top). Royal Caribbean also offers five- to seven-day New England cruises on Serenade of the Seas out of Boston and nine-day cruises on Grandeur of the Seas out of Baltimore.

Best Feature: Who cares if it’s chilly outside? You can still take a dip in the adults-only solarium pool — it has a retractable glass roof that makes it perfect for all types of weather.

The 10- to 13-day "Fall Foliage" itinerary on this 2,050-passenger Royal Caribbean ship takes you between Quebec City and Cape Liberty in New Jersey (or vice versa), making stops in prime leaf-viewing ports, including Halifax, Bar Harbor, and Portland. You’ll have plenty of adrenaline-pumping entertainment options along the way, from aerial acrobatics shows to a rock climbing wall. (Just imagine the view you’ll get from the top). Royal Caribbean also offers five- to seven-day New England cruises on Serenade of the Seas out of Boston and nine-day cruises on Grandeur of the Seas out of Baltimore.

Best Feature: Who cares if it’s chilly outside? You can still take a dip in the adults-only solarium pool — it has a retractable glass roof that makes it perfect for all types of weather.

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