A North American cruise is full of intrigue and excitement, regardless of where you go. The cultural and physical diversity of North America makes it one of the most captivating continents to visit in the world. Whether it is the rugged and barren coastlines of Canada overlooked by picturesque snow-capped mountains, the classic, old world ports of New England, or the sandy beaches of San Francisco, the USA has something for everyone. At a size of almost 10 million square metres, there is plenty for you to explore in North America.
East Coast cruises have a clear appeal, with their old-fashioned colonial charm, stunning landscapes and fascinating culture. Once populated by European settlers, and with a large Irish population, the east coast is a true blend of cultures, with some unmistakable similarities to Britain, and some aspects that are completely, fascinatingly alien. Boston, Montreal and Philadelphia are all must see destinations on a cruise of this region.
Boston is renowned for its beautiful waterfront area, and it’s a great place to take children so if you’re looking to take a family cruise, this region is ideal.
Philadelphia is home to the Liberty Bell, a symbol of the United States’ independence from Europe, which is one of the most interesting and important historic sites on the continent.
Set in a truly wondrous location nestled deep between a gateway to the ocean and the breathtakingly beautiful snow-capped mountain ranges that provide the perfect backdrop. The journey into the cruise port itself provides a beautiful entrance and many ships just squeeze under the famous Lions Gate Bridge before passing Stanley Park.
The waterfront is superb and one of the most serene places to capture a once in a lifetime photograph whilst the steep forest slopes provide the base for a tremendous range of outdoor activities. Whale watching, hiking, kayaking and fishing are just a few suggestions of the goings-on to be enjoyed, not to mention the opportunity to discover the indigenous wildlife here.
Excursions in Vancouver are absolutely fantastic and rival ports such as Seattle and New York. The diverse choice provides something for all ages and whether you’re looking to uncover the historical heritage of the area or explore the sensational attractions, there really is a whole world of discovery lying in wait. For starters, Vancouver was the home of the 2012 Winter Olympics and the outstanding design concepts such as the Olympic cauldron are still in place to leave a long lasting legacy. Make sure to visit the iconic Stanley Park, North America’s largest urban park, that has an area larger in size than New York’s Central Park and truly special boasting a 5½ mile long sea wall. Many passengers also opt for a trip to Grouse Mountain and the Capilano Suspension Bridge. The bridge is 450-feet-long and really gives the guest the chance to experience an adrenaline rush as you look down upon Capilano River. Guests will then be transported to the infamous ‘Peak of Vancouver’ aboard the enthralling Skyride service.
For a venture into the remarkable wildlife regions then opt for a trip to Squamish Forest Reserve whilst taking in one of North America’s iconic sights at Shannon Falls. Whistler is just a short journey await to discover breath taking glaciers or even jump aboard the famous Big Pink Bus for a hop on-hop off day of adventure. Vancouver is often used as a leading gateway to Alaska and with such extravagant beauty you can easily see why. The classical features of this enchanting destination never disappoint.
The bustling hub of Maryland’s largest city Baltimore, boasts somewhat of a Cinderella story having previously been renowned for its industrial prowess, but modern times have transformed the city into a fantastic tourist magnet. Baltimore is now known for being vibrant and exciting, with a thriving port thanks to its superb attractions, including a plethora of restaurants and unique atmosphere. Often dubbed as a 'city full of neighbourhoods', though more commonly known for its nickname ‘Charm City’, Baltimore is a welcoming city where Baltimoreans are down to earth and proud of their home.
The heart and soul of the modern Baltimore is without question in the Inner Harbour area. This location offers a vibrant array of promenades, pavilions and so much more. Inner Harbour is the ideal place to dine, boasting impeccable restaurants with a view to match as well as an endless choice of exciting entertainment features. The Inner Harbour is home of the famous Baltimore Maritime Museum where passengers can uncover historic relics or even delve deeper into the scholar of the area with a trip to the impressive Maryland Science Centre for an interactive experience. Elsewhere the National Aquarium presents the chance for the young and the old to learn more about the indigenous rainforests, coral reefs and some amazing marine life. Additionally, just a short drive away from Inner Harbour is Maryland Zoo in Baltimore’s Druid Hill Park, housing over 1,500 animals and over 200 different species.
Excursions in Baltimore are often quite limited and the majority of passengers here tend to take in the area independently rather than opting for an organised trip. This is not to say the choice isn’t worth looking into, however, as the range of options is usually very good. The city boasts impeccable architectural genius in so many areas, especially the waterfront so one of the enchanting options to go for is to take a water taxi across to capture the waterfront skyline from afar; a brilliant chance for an unforgettable photograph. There will also be options to explore the delightful plantation area of Mount Vernon, a location that George Washington once declared: “no estate is more pleasantly situated”. Set on the Potomac River, Mount Vernon offers the chance to see historic preservation projects dating right back to 1799 yet maintained perfectly to look just as they did back then.
With its beautiful Bay, iconic Golden Gate Bridge and that unmistakable feel-good Californian atmosphere, San Francisco is a highlight of any cruise around the Golden Coast that is bound to leave you with a spring in your step. A liberal city that’s rich in culture, you can easily fill your time in San Francisco doing the things you love, whilst seeing some world-famous sights along the way. As a melting pot of culture, history, nature and liberalism, the infectiously happy vibe is what makes this city such a great cruise destination.
San Francisco Bay is the focal point of the city, and arriving into the bay on your cruise holiday it’s a smart place to start when exploring the area. The most photographed bridge in the world, a walk along the Golden Gate Bridge is an essential activity that gives you incredible views over the bay on a clear day. It also takes you to the northern side of the city to the beautiful vistas of Marin Headlands. The peak of these headlands is Hawk Hill, which is the perfect spot for watching the sun set over the bay, cityscape, bridges and Alcatraz. Alcatraz is an unmissable attraction, and a chance to take a tour around this historic island will give you an insight into its notorious prison. Whether you’ve seen films such as Birdman from Alcatraz or you know very little about the prison that once held criminals such as Al Capone and George Kelly, it’s a fascinating and chilling trip. Available as an excursion from some cruise operators, the island is accessible by boat and can be done by day or night.
San Francisco also has a wide range of galleries and museums beyond Alcatraz, from the family friendly Walt Disney Museum and Musee Mecanique of games and toys, to impressive exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art and the Palace of Fine Arts. Although these might be some of the most renowned attractions for history and the arts, you can also get a taste for Californian culture with a visit to the theatre. Ballet is extremely popular in San Francisco, as are concerts and musicals. The Orpheum Theatre and San Francisco Conservatory and Old First Church are just a few of the major venues for performing arts.
For shopping, wining and dining, there are several key districts that are popular amongst visitors and locals alike. Fisherman’s Wharf might be the obvious choice to explore on your visit to San Francisco, however Downtown and SoMa also have plenty to offer. If you want to escape the city and sample the best of California in a more tranquil setting, take an excursion into the Sonoma and Napa Valley wine country beyond the city. This gorgeous landscape produces some of the finest Californian wine in the world, and so makes a great activity for adults during your stop on a cruise holiday.
Experience a city with a difference with a trip to San Francisco that will leave you feeling happy and rejuvenated. This fun-loving city has so many things to see and do, that it’s the perfect cruise destination regardless of what makes your ideal city break. For more information, check out the official San Francisco Travel Guide for sightseeing ideas, recommended dining, shopping, arts and culture.
The Golden Coast of California is a real highlight of the USA that attracts countless visitors every year who come to soak up the excitement of the beaches, year-round warm climate, and major attractions. As the second largest city in the state, San Diego is a prominent port that blends the brilliance of the city with the feel-good friendly vibe that Californians do best. Whatever your idea of the ideal city break, you’ll be sure to find it in San Diego.
With a remarkable range of things to do with the family in San Diego, it’s no wonder that this West Coast city is a popular destination for family cruise holidays. Disneyworld San Diego is an exciting day out for anyone travelling with little ones, whilst attractions such as San Diego Zoo, Sea World, and San Diego Wild Animal Park, are fun for all ages. Proof that you don’t need to go on safari to have a walk on the wild side, these top attractions offer the best of exotic animals and marine life for you to see right in the city. However if you’re looking for free activities with the family, you can easily spend the day at the beach.
San Diego is blessed with miles and miles of beautiful beaches that are ideal for water sports as well as just chilling out in the sun. Although Mission Beach might be the most famous stretch of sand along the coast with its arcades and roller coaster, you can find plenty of activity down at Pacific Beach and Imperial Beach. Take a surfing or sailing lesson for a chance to get out on the waters and try something new, or simply enjoy jumping in the waves and cooling off from the mid day heat. For a great excursion outside of the city, head to the vibrant resort of La Jolla for the day and explore the shops, restaurants that line the waterfront.
A walk on the beach might be a relaxing way to spend an hour or two, but you can easily while away the afternoon discovering the charms of the inner city. Although the modern skyline of San Diego encompasses the wealth of shops, bars and restaurants that you would expect from such a cosmopolitan hub, the Old Town is a fun and vibrant place to check out. Whether you’re looking for a great place to eat, some evening entertainment such as theatre, bars or live music, or you just want to see some historic architecture, you’re sure to fall in love with San Diego’s Old Town.
You might think that you would be a little cruised-out during your time on land in San Diego, but in fact a day cruise is a great way to experience the fantastic coastline of the city from a distance. If you’re lucky, you might also have the opportunity to spot whales and other marine life. It’s the perfect way to see Coronado Bridge and watch the sunset over the city if you time your excursion just right for the end of the day. However the most famous place to watch the sun set if undoubtedly Sunset Cliffs, that got their name for being a beautiful place to observe day turn to night. A big city that gives a friendly welcome, San Diego is a great choice for anyone who wants to take in the stunning coastline of California during their cruise holiday. Although a generally modern hub, its historic Old Town and natural highlights make San Diego a diverse place that’s full of charm as a cruise destination on the West Coast. Find out more about San Diego at the city's official travel resource.
With its rock-bound coast, soaring granite cliffs and a town surrounded by the Acadia National Park, there is something oh-so special about Bar Harbor. A classic American town, Bar Harbor is full of stores where staff and locals know each other by their first names, lobsters are on every menu and the moss-lined trails of the Acadia National Park is a hiker’s heaven. Over the years Bar Harbor has grown to become one of the most popular cruise ports when sailing a New England itinerary and as soon as you step foot ashore you can see why. Perhaps one of the most attractive features to this port of call is the ease of accessibility. The cruise port is right in the centre of town so getting around is not a problem. The main sights to see are all close by and within walking distance of the disembarkation point.
Boston may well be a big city, but make no mistake, this city is easily walkable on foot, and once you’ve got started it doesn’t feel all that big at all. Want to see to the nation’s oldest college? Then take a visit to Harvard University. Interested in America’s Presidents? Head to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Love baseball? Then don’t miss out on a visit to America’s most beloved ball park, Fenway Park. Whatever you decide to do in Boston, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
With plenty of small-town appeal, Charlottetown is an enchanting port of call that bustles with colour and charisma whatever the season. This pretty port of call that is often referred to as the ‘Gentle Island, is the capital of Prince Edward Islands (PEI) and also happens to be the birthplace Canada. Full of historical charm, festivities and the inspiration behind the novel of Anne of Green Gables, it’s hard not to fall in love with Charlottetown.
Once known as America’s spring break capital, Fort Lauderdale has since shaken off the reputation of being a rowdy, college spring break and grown into a refined community that brings in over 3 million passengers to its cruise port each year. With Fort Lauderdale’s bustling seafront that is filled with waterways, sun-kissed beaches and endless shopping at your fingertips, it’s not hard to see why this cruise port is the second busiest in the world.
This port of call has recently risen to new heights following the decision taken by several cruise lines to use it as a homeport for certain Caribbean itineraries. Located in the Gulf of Mexico, just two miles off the coast of Texas, the area is most prominently known for its incredible beach scenes spanning 32 miles. This is the ideal place to laze the day away and soak up the tranquil sun rays. The location is also a huge reason for the decision to make Galveston a homeport for many ships as it is perfect for heading off into the Caribbean whilst being a delightful destination itself for a pre or post cruise stay.
Halifax is Nova Scotia’s beautifully preserved capital, where you can admire the rugged coastline, picturesque waterfront and idyllic villages. This destination presents one of the most beautifully picturesque locations in the region, that has been defined by its maritime history, and is a wonderful port of call aboard a Canada and New England cruise, especially in the fall. Halifax also happens to hold one of the most indented coastlines in the world and has gained great fames in past times for transatlantic itineraries and trade.
Brimming with all the glitz and glamour you could ever imagine the city of Los Angeles, has also become known as the ‘City of Angels’. This film making capital has nurtured some of the best writers, performers and directors and it’s all about the 'American Dream' in this city. Watch surfers at Santa Monica, head to Rodeo Drive for a spot of shopping, see the Hollywood sign from Sunset Boulevard or Bronson Avenue (if you don’t fancy a hike) and make the most of LA’s blonde beaches and rolling hills as this city has it all.
As a vibrant port town and Maine’s largest city, Portland has capitalised on its port history of Victorian shipbuilder’s mansions and cobbled streets, that now bustles with a vibrant atmosphere. Situated to the north of Boston and can be found in the most charming of peninsulas within the Casco Bay and is a great place to visit when cruising New England. This fantastic cruise port combines a fascinating history with truly spectacular scenery, especially during the autumn months. Explore brilliant sightseeing opportunities and don’t forget to relish the designer label bargain outlets that the city has become increasingly famous for.
Quebec offers a living testament to European charm and beauty right here in North America. A recognised UNESCO World Heritage site, Old Québec is achingly picturesque where you can come and take a food tour of the historic St Roch region, visit one of many Nordic spas or make the most the great outdoors with dog-sledding on snow-covered trails. If you visit during the autumn, or “fall” as it known locally in America, you can to see the city in an amazing blaze of autumnal colours, during winter annual snowfall is around 400cm, transforming the destination into a winter wonderland, while during the Summer you can bask under the sun and explore all the Québec has to offer.
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