Experience the beauty of a fall foliage cruise along New Englands coast


1) There are cruises available for every budget

With summer winding to a close, its time to consider a fall foliage cruise along the New England and Canadian coast. If you live in an area that doesn’t experience the annual beauty of the changing of the foliage colors, it is truly an experience you shouldn’t miss.

2) Follow the transition of the colors

You have lots of choices. ​There are cruises for every budget and taste with cruise offerings from Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Holland America, Princess, and ultra-luxury cruise lines like Seabourn, Silverseas and Crystal. Cruises can be as short as four days or as long as two weeks.

3) Capture postcard perfect vistas

Take a camera on your cruise to capture postcard perfect vistas

​Longer cruises will afford you the best opportunity to see firsthand the transition between the green summer leaves and the vibrant fall colors. Imagine sitting on your balcony wrapped in a warm blanket in the crisp fall air sipping on a glass of wine or a hot chocolate as you pass the historic villages and lonely lighthouse nestled among the forests on the rugged coastline.
​Don’t forget to take your camera to capture the amazing crimson, vibrant orange, and bright golden leaves. As you sail along the coast watch for elaborate “summer cottages” snuggled among the changing foliage or waterfalls and fjords along the jagged rocky coastline. During this time of year you might even catch sight of a few humpback whales off the coast of Maine and Canada.

4) Visit historic fishing villages

Be sure to walk through historic fishing villages while on a fall foliage cruise.

But there is more! You’ll visit some of the most icon New England towns and fishing villages along the way, like Portland and Bar Harbor in Maine; and Halifax, Prince Edwards Island and Montreal in Canada.

Be sure to stop at the historic Portland Head Lighthouse and climb its stairs to the top. Imagine what life was like over 200 years ago when it was built. Gaze along this treacherous but picturesque coastline.

​History buffs, your voyage will take you to several ports full of rich history going back to the start of the country. Rent a car and drive through the country and visit some of these historical villages and sites.

 Try fresh lobster caught that morning while in a cruise port stop.

​5) Experience uniquely New England activities

While in port, be sure to visit a local restaurants and feast on the freshest lobster you’ve ever had or experience your first clam bake on a beach or try Rhode Island style calamari.

​Then walk off the meal as you stroll through the streets of a salty old fishing village complete with a harbor full of vessels with their fishing nets strewn around to dry.

Try some local hot apple cider, or have  a stack of pancakes with REAL maple syrup harvested nearby.

6) A different cruise experience

Portland's Head Lighthouse can be visited during your cruise

Most cruisers have cruised the Caribbean, many several times. A smaller percentage of cruised the Mediterranean, some several times. So a fall foliage cruise offers a new and different experience.

​Just as I strongly recommend everyone take at least one Alaskan cruise, a fall foliage cruise is just as unique and rewarding. If you enjoy learning about history or seeing different architecture, on these cruises you’ll see towns and buildings over 200 years old.

Since these cruises are during the school year, there are fewer children. In fact the typical age range is around 50 – 65, with most passengers being seasoned cruisers looking for something new. Because of these demographics, the cruises are relaxing and educational.


Fall foliage cruises have some other advantages that might appeal to some cruisers:

  • They are close to home. There is no overseas flight with a subsequent jet lag;
  • Flights are cheaper than to overseas cruise ports or deep Caribbean ports; and,
  • English is the standard language in ports.


When to go

Peak color season is late September through October. This is when you’ll see the richest colors.

When to book

If you can’t go this year, start to book your vacation for next year. There is still space on several cruises, but you’ll want to make sure you have a balcony view. Note – if you are sailing north, get a stateroom on the west facing side of the ship – otherwise your balcony will be facing the ocean.

​The best staterooms are booked a year in advance, and there are not many discounts. But you can still get a good cabin on short notice.

Which cruise line to book

​The larger ocean cruise ships have to travel farther out to sea. The smaller, which typically means luxury ships, can sail closer to the coasts and therefore offer a better up-close view to appreciate the foliage and coasts. But there is a cruise for just about any budget.

Embarkation and disembarkation ports

​Most cruises start in Boston or New York, and end in Montreal or Quebec. Although several cruise lines offer longer cruises that begin in Miami or Fort Lauderdale and some other ports.

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Abercrombie Kent

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