As the ban on the majority of international travel drags on I’m sure I am not the only person dreaming of shores hundreds of miles from their own. Drop me a comment below and tell me what part of the world you are lusting after!
For me it has to be New England! I dream of being there at least once a week. My obsession with this part of the world started last September when I embarked on a Canada and New England cruise with Princess Cruises. Since, we are all stuck at home, dive into this blog post with me and we will explore the beauty of New England in the fall.
Newport, Rhode Island
When we arrived in Newport I very swiftly realized that I had found the unofficial home of every nautical loving soul. In everyday life, it isn’t seen as normal to have an obsession with the sea…But in Newport it seems an obsession with the sea is absolutely normal, in fact it is celebrated! The sun shone from a bright blue September sky; warming the wooden fronted buildings of this beautiful New England coastal town. It felt as though I had stepped right into the pages of a storybook.
Whitewashed buildings held: charming boutiques, quaint restaurants, sweet-smelling bakeries, and refreshing ice-cream parlors. Many a happy hour could be spent wandering through town, meandering your way down to Bannisters Wharf Marina where every size and shape of boat is moored up, their hulls glistening as they bask in the warmth of the sun. If you can’t tear your eyes away from the view then don’t worry there are plenty of places where you can grab a drink and relax in this place that is surely paradise.
The most popular excursion in Newport is a boat tour! Yes, we had all just debarked a cruise ship. No, we were not sick of being on the water. It is no secret that if you pay for excursions from your cruise line then they are pretty pricey…But if you strike out on your own there are some excellent bargains to be had. We used the Newport Harbor Shuttle, tickets for which can be found just a few metres from the Tender drop off point. This 55- minute loop makes six stops around Newport Harbor and costs just $12 for an adult and $6 for a child under 12. Even though this is a water shuttle it provides a fully narrated tour! Plus, the perk of it being a water shuttle is that your tickets are valid for the entire day and you can hop on and off in any location you like.
Anyone who reads my blog with any regularity or knows me in real life will know that I do not shy away from the controversial. So time for the first controversial comment of this post…Boston did not float my boat! I wanted to like it, I really did but I just cannot see why people are obsessed with it. It held none of the charm of the other ports we visited in New England it was just another soulless city.
We used a hop on hop off bus to explore Boston, which you can pick up directly from the dock! However, I would not recommend this as Boston city centre itself is pretty compact and you would be able to see the majority of it on foot. It is also pretty easy to navigate in terms of not getting lost as you are able to follow the Freedom Trail through a good chunk of the city.
The only part of Boston I do miss is Quincy Market! Because the treats that can be found in its food hall are absolutely to die for. If I ever find myself back in this city you will find me in the food hall snacking all day long!
Bar Harbor, Maine
If I spoke to you about Bar Harbor for the rest of my life, I still would not be able to adequately describe the depth of my love for it. Never have I been so utterly in love with a geographical location! In contrast to the glorious sunshine that blessed us in Newport; we arrived in Bar Harbor to mist and rain. This did mean that all tours to go whale watching were cancelled however nothing could put a dampener on this port. It was pure magic!
Now I don’t know about you but I love a cheesy Hallmark film, in particular, a cheesy Christmas film! (I can feel you judging me people, stop it right this instant) Bar Harbor, was like stepping into a film set of small-town America. The multi-coloured wooden storefronts shone like beacons through the wet and misty weather. The windows of cafe’s steamed up from the heat of delicious baked treats and hot drinks. A smattering of lobsters on signs and in windows indicating where you could treat yourself to a lobster roll or if you were brave even some lobster flavored ice-cream…There was a bustle of everyday life here that made it feel so much more than a tourist destination. It felt like you belonged.
Of course, charming though Bar Harbor is people don’t visit it to explore its town. The majority of people who go on a fall cruise to New England and Canada have been lured by the sight of Acadia National Park; slowly turning russet and copper as the last of the summer sun leaches away and a long cold season lies ahead. From Bar Harbor, it is not far to Acadia National Park and as I encourage you once again to kick expensive ship excursions to the curb – I will tell you exactly who you need to go to for a wonderful alternative experience.
Acadia National Park Tours allow you to immerse yourself in the beauty and splendour of nature. The fully narrated bus tour will provide you with a wealth of knowledge from a local guide (ours was called Heather and I swear she knew everything). Your guide will take you on a tour that emphasizes the history and beauty of Bar Harbor and Acadia! Stopping at sights such as the summit of Cadillac Mountain, Thunder Hole, and the Wild Gardens of Acadia. The guides will also make sure you experience the wonderful wildlife of the parks, we did much pulling over or idling so passengers could admire the deer that roamed free. Prices for the tour start at just $35 for an adult and $20 for a child, you can find out more about what is on offer here.
Be aware that if you end up experiencing weather such as we did when we visited Bar Harbor that driving up and down Cadillac Mountain feels like a near-death experience. We could not see more than a metre in front of our bus as we wound down steep mountain roads but we were in good hands! As our guide cheerily proclaimed for us ‘don’t worry the bus brakes for itself!’.
St John, New Brunswick
All I have to say about this port is: Why? Just why? This is evidently a filler port that cruise lines use for convenience. Do yourself a favor and just stay on the ship because this port is akin to a deprived town in the North East of England. It is a million miles from being a tourist destination and in all honesty, will give you a pretty poor impression of Canada.
The main excursion in this port of call is the Reversing Rapids, we did not visit them, but were warned by another passenger that it is industrial and depending on the time of the day you visit you might not actually see anything…
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Halifax, swept in to rescue Canada after the awful impression we got from St John. Its wide promenade was peppered with artisan shops, a farmers market and a craft ale brewery. This made for a safe and interesting walk into the city. At the bottom of the promenade, you will find a variety of colourful market stalls selling both souvenirs and Canadian themed food items, Beaver Tail anyone? Toward the bottom of the promenade, you will also find the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic – the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic is known for its permanent Titanic exhibition.
To get into the city centre from the port area you will need some strong leg muscles and a good pair of lungs! Thankfully, it isn’t hundreds of steps just an incline which you can walk up at a leisurely pace. If climbing does not bother you I recommend going the extra yard and climbing up onto the Hilltop Citadel; believe me, the view will be worth it.
The most popular excursion to do from Halifax is to visit Peggy’s Cove, I will say if you are wanting to do this it is definitely one thing I would recommend paying the expensive ship excursion price for. All the local tours were sold out! And when speaking to the locals they revealed that not many local companies are still sailing in October and those who are still sailing tend to be block-booked by the cruise line. So if it is a must on your to-do list then make sure you visit the shore excursions desk early.