Canada Cruises - Best Tours & Trips 2019
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Relaxed A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers.
Full on For those looking to maximize their sight seeing time. You thrive on a packed day’s schedule from 8 am to 6pm, with some (but limited) free time. Most activities and meals included.
Mixed You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included.
Group Tour Groups are between 25-60 people, typically ~30-40. Usually there will be many opportunities to split off and enjoy meals and excursions in smaller groups. This is the most economical way to travel, saving up to 40% versus booking the same itinerary yourself.
Small Group Tour Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
River Cruise These vessels are smaller than most ocean cruisers, limiting which amenties are available. Passenger counts can vary. One of the biggest advantages of a river cruise is the ability to dock at smaller ports and local villages.
Small Ship Cruise Small ship cruises usually have a max passenger count of 500. The primary purpose of these trips is to spend time off the vessel in local ports (e.g. Mediterranean) or experiencing nature (e.g Galapagos or Antarctica). Cabins can vary from budget to luxury.
Private Guided Private tours give you the undivided attention of a guide, and often involve special access to sites and unique experiences not available to larger groups. This is a great option for families, couples, and small friend groups. Expect to pay a bit more for the extra service.
Self Guided / Independent Tour A travel company plans your itinerary and arranges all the logistics including lodging, local activities, and transportantion. You have the flexibility of a solo trip while still getting the convience and time savings of expert planning. Get 90% of the benefits of a tour, without a guide.
Vacation / Holiday Package Similar to a self guided tour, this usually involves a home base, such as a hotel or resort, with packaged activities and day tours as a part of the stay.
Large Ship Cruise This is the "floating city" experience, with multiple ways to enjoy your vacation aboard the ship as much as on land. Ships are multiple floors, provide several activities, culinary, and shopping options. They often make fewer stops and have less time available for shore excursions.
Camping Typically involves most nights sleeping in tents (sometimes permanent tented sites) or in rustic cabins and lodges.
Basic - 2 star You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping.
Value - 3 star Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Premium - 4 star 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Luxury - 5 star The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays.
Price Per Day
Very Easy Minimal walking - motor vehicles available for all major parts of trip.
Easy Normal generally flat walking in urban or suburban environments.
Moderate Walking or physical activity half to most of day - no carrying equipment.
Strenuous All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included.
Extreme Very challenging all day hiking and backpacking carrying significant equipment.
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Rivers & Seas
Cities & Attractions
Flights & Transport
Continents & Regions
- Explore the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Visit Sam Ford Fjord, one of the most beautiful and isolated places on the planet
- View arctic wildlife, such as walrus and possibly polar bears
- Cruise in a Zodiac
- Visit traditional settlements and meet Greenlandic and Inuit locals
- Experience Canada and Greenland in the same expedition
- Learn more about the people living in the area
- See archaeological remains and learn about Viking history
- Exciting excursions
- Explore Vancouver and its natural beauty
- Discover Ketchikan
- Explore the historical sites of Sitka
- Visit to the beautiful Seward
Experience Hike on Saturna Island
Exploring the interidal life at low tide
See the wildlife while sailing
- Meet world-renowned Inuit carvers in Kinngait, home to some of the most celebrated stone carvers in the Arctic.
- Enjoy the exotic sounds of throat-singers imitating sounds of nature, and see the amazing Qilakitsoq mummies at the renowned Greenland Museum.
- Cross the Arctic Circle in the shadow of Greenland’s second-longest fjord.
- Learn about Haida culture, history and the natural wonders of their homeland
- Visit multiple UNESCO World Heritage Sites
- Hike trails that wind through forest floors
- Enjoy the longer hours of sunlight on waters that attract an abundant and diverse display of marine life
- Find many varieties of sea stars (formerly known as starfish) and many other marine creatures
- Fish for red snapper, lingcod and other rockfish
- See species of sea birds like the great blue heron, peregrine falcon, and dozens of magnificent bald eagles
- Enjoy 9 night cruise
- Explore Mackinac Island
- Soo Locks
- Discover Niagara Falls
- See Henry Ford Museum
- See Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
- Visit two national parks in Canada
- Learn more about the people living in the area
- See archaeological remains and learn about Viking history
- Exciting excursions
- Search for bears, whales, and walrus in their Arctic feeding grounds.
- By Zodiac, get a close look at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ilulissat Icefjord, located at the mouth of one of the world’s most active glaciers.
- Engage with leading experts and local hosts regarding the future of Arctic conservation, with additional expertise provided by special guests from the World Wildlife Fund - Canada.
- Visit to “Springwood,” the beloved estate home of President Franklin D. Roosevelt
- Cruising the historic Erie Canal
- View some of the highlights such as the H. Lee White Marine Museum, the Richardson-Bates House Museum, or Fort Ontario
- Visit the notable Antique Boat Museum for a glimpse of the world’s largest showcase of classic recreational boats
- Visit tiny Dark Island in Chippewa Bay and tour the stately and elegant Singer Castle
- Visit the Musèe des Ursulines
- Visit the impressive Chateau de Frontenac
- Explore Montreal, a vibrant riverside city filled with culture, history, and artistic wonders
- Visit some of Canada's largest and most remote national parks in celebration of Canada's sesquicentennial.
- Enjoy a once in a lifetime opportunity as the first expedition voyagers to snorkel the wreck of the HMS Erebus.
- Cruise the Ilulissat Icefjord via zodiac, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the world's fastest-moving glacier.
- The Leopold cliffs covered with guillemots
- Historical sites of expeditions from Franklin and Amundsen
- Crossing the International Date Line
- The Bering Strait
- Possibility of seeing Aurora Borealis
- Disko Bay, the largest producer of icebergs in the northern hemisphere, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Visit Vancouver and Ketchikan
- Explore Misty Fiords National Monument and Tongass National Forest
- Discoveries Canadian Rockies
- Visit Maligne Lake and Lake Louise
- Venture into the ancient Viking settlement of L’Anse aux Meadows, the only widely accepted site of trans-Atlantic Viking establishment and very early Norse exploration
- See WWII harbor defenses, and visit the only North American island that remains under French control, an outpost of its era as a colonial superpower
- Discover sweeping dunes, wind- and wave-carved cliffs, and sandstone hills in a wild land
- Explore the intriguing red cliffs and strange tabletop formations at Gros Morne National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site
- Glide between soaring icebergs at the mouth of the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Observe polar bears, walruses, ringed seals, belugas, and-with luck-narwhals in their natural habitat.
- Follow in the wake of legendary explorers as we explore the Lancaster Sound, the gateway to the Northwest Passage.
- Discover the incredible wildlife and landscapes of Baffin Island on hikes and excursions by Zodiac.
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Top Canada Cruises Experiences
Seeing incredible wildlife on the shore as you sail past
Enjoying delicious meals in luxury aboard a small ship in the Maritimes
Learning aboriginal history and customs
Photographing the incredible landscape from the private balcony of your stateroom
Seeing the northern lights in the Arctic
Visiting remote islands and national parks
Capturing the perfect photographs of polar bears, Canadian geese, and breaching whales
Enjoying beautiful sunrises and sunsets out on the water, with a historic lighthouse in the background completing the scene
Canada Cruises Trip Reviews
Canada Cruises Tours and Travel Guide
Canada Cruises Attractions & Landmarks Guide
Cruising is one of the most dramatic ways to see Canada, and one of the only ways to reach her most remote destinations. Like the intrepid explorers who came before, landing on Canada’s shores, you will feel the same exhilaration, as though you are the first to be seeing the incredible and daunting expanses of Canada before you.
Explore such unique lands as Newfoundland & Labrador and the Canadian High Arctic and Greenland. Explore the stunningly beautiful waters around Vancouver Island and north to Alaska, and the picturesque coastal villages of the Maritimes.
Cruising the Canadian High Arctic
Cruises in the Canadian High Arctic are usually combined with cruises to Greenland as well, for a truly incredible experience in the far reaches of the world. Possibly even less trafficked today than Antarctica, this Arctic Archipelago is one of the last frontiers for travelers.
There are over 36,000 islands in the Canadian Arctic archipelago, and your journey’s route will depend somewhat on the time of year and the presence or non presence of icebergs and frozen waters.
Of course, the ugly side of the coin is that cruises are now able to access the waters of the High Arctic due to climate change. Ice and snow has continued to melt at an alarming rate. So let part of your journey be about awareness.
Technically international waters, sailing through the Northwest Passage provides beautiful views of the Arctic as experienced by brave sailors and intrepid explorers for generations. Among the fjords, mountains, and glaciers you’ll explore a land much unchanged from the age of exploration. You’ll meet local inuit people and learn their culture, history and customs, still very much alive today.
Similarly to an Antarctica trip, you’ll experience hushed snowy landscapes, and the feeling of being dwarfed by the landscape and secondary to the wildlife. Walruses will lazily sleep about as your ship drifts past, and majestic polar bears walk through the snow.
Top sights on an Arctic Cruise in Canada
Lancaster Sound - Explorers just entering the Northwest Passage and seeking to make it through this fabled trade route between west and east, would have started here, at Lancaster Sound. This is the largest channel through the web of islands and bays, though still small enough to pose an uneasy sense of wondering - what does it lead to? As you start through you’ll have this same thought - as many sailors through history must have as well, as they began their journey.
Beechey Island - This is the haunting final resting place for 250 ill fated sailors who embarked on a voyage in 1845 - ultimately perishing here from cold, hunger, and other mysterious factors. Archaeologists have speculated that rather than shipwreck, one of the main contributions to their demise was lead poisoning from the tin cups they used to store food. You can wander the island among makeshift headstones and take a guided history tour to learn more about those who lived and died here.
Prince Leopold Island - Nearly 1000 feet tall, these sheer cliffs are intensely foreboding and fascinating. As you gaze up from a zodiac, feeling dwarfed by their incredible shape and structure, it’s hard not to feel intimidated. Photographers, this is your moment! You many even see a polar bear or two.
Baffin Island - Actually the 5th largest island in the world, Baffin Island is home to some of Canada’s most fascinating native history, explorer history, wildlife, and winter landscapes. Visit here for incredible views and to learn about the unique topography and human history of this northern, oft unvisited part of Canada.
Ellesmere Island - For a true adventure head to one of the world’s most remote islands, at the northern end of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, and a narrow channel away from Greenland. Explore Quttinirpaaq National Park to learn about the island’s unique climate, wildlife, and other geographical features.
Cruising the Canadian Maritimes and New England
Exploring the Canadian Maritimes is like going back in time. Small coastal towns, lighthouses, and fishing villages harken back to when this area had multiple nations vying over the fur trade, and establishing settlements. There’s Dutch influence, French Influence, and early British-American influence throughout these provinces and coastal lands. Additionally there is a rich native culture to learn about here, and many museums dedicated to showcasing native crafts, customs, and history.
Often cruises of the Eastern parts of Canada encompass a visit to Newfoundland and Labrador as well, an oft forgotten about area of Canada for tourists, making it the perfect destination for those looking to get a bit off the beaten track.
A vibrant clash of cultures since the 18th century, Canada’s East coast saw rapid growth due to a rich and successful timber industry. The fur trade also affected their growth, as well as the tensions between many nationalities looking to stake claims and establish trading outposts.
Halifax, Nova Scotia is the main port of call for cruises around the Maritimes. Here you’ll enjoy tours of the downtown area with its mix of modern and historical architecture, harbor walks, maritime and military history walks, and views of picturesque lighthouses.
Elsewhere in Nova Scotia you’ll find a legacy of fishing villages and family businesses, with crab and lobster shacks just off the piers. This is also where one of the most widely used symbols of the maritimes can be found - a very popular destination for photographers - Peggy’s Point Lighthouse.
New Brunswick is the largest of the three Maritime provinces. Due to its size, there are many influences here, providing keys to early Canadian history. From the native cultures, to the exploration age when French and British explorers first landed. From there, thriving timber and mining industries influenced the population growth and economy.
Today, New Brunswick is known for beautiful coastline, particularly the Bay of Fundy. The outdoors coupled with the second largest town in the Maritimes, where you can shop, enjoy delicious meals, and visit museums, make this province a perfectly balanced trip for travelers to Canada.
Fans of the wildly popular book and film series Anne of Green Gables, will immediately recognize the name Prince Edward Island. This tiny island off the coast of Nova Scotia has been a tourist destination for kindred spirits of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s spunky red haired heroine for decades.
You can visit the Green Gables house, several museums dedicated to the series, and you’ll definitely feel the spirit of Anne all through the island. Those uninterested in the book series can still get a lot out of a visit to the area, including gorgeous photo ops, fresh seafood, and a multitude of outdoor activities.
Cruising Newfoundland & Labrador
Be honest. When was the last time you thought about visiting Newfoundland? Well despite being left out of many Canadian travels, Newfoundland and neighboring Labrador really should move high on your list. And cruising is one of the easiest and best ways to visit.
Precisely because it’s often forgotten about, this province is the perfect destination for those really looking to get away from it all and experience something new. And once you get there, you’ll discover a friendly people, charming towns, a rich arts scene, and fascinating history - including an archaeological site reputed to be where famed Viking explorer Leif Erikson settled.
These easternmost lands of Canada were the first major land sight to behold for some European explorers seeking the New World. Many towns maintain strong ties to their European ancestors, particularly Scottish and Irish. You’ll feel as though you’ve traveled overseas to the motherland with traditional food and customs from these countries alive and well. Because a large portion of those who landed here made their way south to the modern day Maritime provinces, where trading posts were more prominent, the ports in Newfoundland sparsely populated for many years.
Today, this area is a vibrant hidden gem of outdoors adventures and arts and culture.
Some of the top sights in Newfoundland & Labrador include:
Bonavista- Believed to be the landing point of Italian explorer, Giovanni Caboto, upon one of the very first exploratory missions to the New World, in 1497, Bonavista is a classic stop when exploring Newfoundland. The lighthouse on the spot is now a museum welcoming visitors year round.
Gros Morne National Park - Among its other virtues, there is an UNESCO World Heritage sight within Gros Morne National Park - the rare exposed mantle rocks that made up “Tablelands”. Guided tours are recommended to fully appreciate the significance of this natural area. Gros Morne is the perfect park for hiking, camping, and kayaking among untamed natural beauty.
Cape Spear - the easternmost point of North America, Cape Spear is a classic stop along a cruise of Canada’s east coast, complete with beautiful lighthouse and the feeling of being frozen in time. Take a tour of the lighthouse for a glimpse into 19th century life and the explorers who helped shape Canada’s history.
Codroy Valley - for a taste of Scotland in North America. This beautiful area is home to a small but stalwart Scottish community, with very strong ties to the motherland. Scottish customs and culture is very much alive here. The Grand Codroy River nearby offers wonderful hiking and photogenic views.
Skerwink Trail - this roughly 3 mile trail has been named as one of the Top 35 best walks in North America by Travel & Leisure. Get stunning coastal views and even glimpse a Humpback Whale or two in the summer months.
Cruising Canada’s West Coast
A cruise through the Western part of Canada generally also includes Alaska, though you may also choose to remain in British Columbia where you can focus around Victoria and Vancouver Island.
Canada’s West Coast offers a more rugged, mountainous terrain, as well as unique coastal rainforests than the east or the north, and has a strong railway and gold mining history.
The Inside Passage
The most popular route you’ll take when exploring Canada’s west coast on a cruise is the Inside Passage. The inside passage winds its way through inland passages and byways passing multiple hidden villages and settlements not often visited by travelers.
For those interested in the native aboriginal culture of Canada, this is going to a large part of your trip along the Inside Passage. Totem poles and local settlements line the shorelines, and you’ll learn a lot about the history, culture, and customs.
The wildlife viewing in this area is almost unparalleled. Have your camera ready for whales, moose, and grizzly bears, as well as one of the densest populations of wild bald eagles anywhere in the world.
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