The major cruise lines are focusing part of their fleets on Canada for the next six months, mainly because of the Alaska cruise season.
Most of the activity will be in Vancouver, which acts as a starting point for many Alaska cruises. It shares the market with Seattle, which is gaining more ships as cruise lines use domestic departure points to entice American customers looking for ways to save money. More discount airline options in the U.S. make it cheaper for American passengers to fly to Seattle than a Canadian city.
Even if Vancouver loses more departures to Seattle, Canada still wins. Under U.S. law, ships that depart from one U.S. city to another must make a mandatory stop in a foreign port. The most popular spot for Alaska-bound ships has been Victoria, but in recent years, they have been stopping at other ports of call in British Columbia, such as Prince Rupert, Nanaimo and Campbell River.
It's not only B.C. that is seeing more cruise activity in Canada. During the months of August, September and October of this year, several ships will cruise through Canadian waters from U.S. ports and a number of them will start their voyages in Montreal and Quebec City.
Quebec City has proved to be one of the most popular ports for these trips, with some cruise lines staying overnight in the Quebec capital. The cruise lines have also discovered other smaller Quebec communities such as Saguenay, Gaspe and Sept Iles. There are also plenty of ships cruising through the Maritimes.
Here is a selection to consider:
-Princess Cruises is operating several one-way trips from Quebec City to New York as well as trips in the reverse direction. Ports along the way include an overnight stay in Quebec City, followed by stops in Saguenay, Sydney, Halifax, Saint John, Bar Harbor, Boston and Newport before arriving in New York.
-Royal has three ships operating out of Boston, Baltimore and New Jersey, primarily with stops in New England and the Maritimes.
-Holland America is one of the early starters in the Canadian cruise season with trips in May. The Maasdam offers one-way cruises between Montreal and Boston with the reverse offered out of Boston. Ports of call include Bar Harbor, Halifax, Sydney, Charlottetown and Quebec City before arriving in Montreal.
- August and September see the arrival of HAL's Eurodam which will operate one-way between Quebec City and New York. Ports of call include Boston, several more along the U.S. coast then into the Maritimes. There is then a stop in Saguenay, a cruise along the Saguenay Fjord the following day before arriving in Quebec City.
- Carnival is offering four, five, and seven-day cruises out of New York. All have stops in Saint John with the five and seven-day cruises adding Halifax. A larger ship and longer itinerary will be added in 2010.
- Celebrity's Constellation offers up 13 and 14-day cruises out of Bayonne, New Jersey. Quebec City, Halifax and Charlottetown are the Canadian stops on those cruises. Celebrity will be adding a seven-day cruise in 2010.
- On the luxury side, Crystal and Silversea have scheduled cruises with Cunard's Queen Mary 2 offering up a short New York, Saint John, New York, four-day cruise in September. You can check out NCL's schedule at ncl.com.
Usually it's Phil's Pick, but this week I went for two. These deals were available at time of writing. These are starting prices in Canadian dollars and are based on per person double occupancy. They do not include fees and taxes.
Keeping with our Canadian theme, the Maasdam of HAL cruises from Boston to Montreal with ports in the Maritimes and Quebec City, finishing the seven-day trip in Montreal. Starting price is $688. Find out more at hollandamerica.com.
Royal's Vision of the Seas has a 10-night cruise in November from Athens (Piraeus) with stops at several Greek ports then visits to Malta, Tunis and Malaga before finishing in Lisbon. Starting price is $869. Look for details at royalcaribbean.com.
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