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Lighthouses, national parks & fortresses: 10 top cruise ports of call in Canada

Canada cruises take passengers to scenic fishing villages, culture-packed cities and dramatic coastlines – these are some highlights you’ll enjoy.

Canada cruises pack in warm hospitality, intriguing history and magnificent, unspoiled landscapes, to name just a few benefits of cruising the second-largest country in the world.

From feasting on poutine and fresh seafood to admiring historic buildings and amazing wildlife, we’ve peeked at the 10 incredible ports of call on a Canada cruise to get you inspired.

St. John's, Newfoundland Canada

ExplorationSt. John's, Newfoundland

St. John’s, the capital of Newfoundland is one of the oldest and most easterly cities in North America.

The harbour was once bristling with fishing schooners but these days you can expect narrow streets and hidden alleys, jostling, colorful houses and steep hills. Fun fact, some of the streets in St. John’s are among the oldest in the New World and there are lots of buzzy pubs and cafés, unique art galleries and shops where you can while away your time.

Look out for the iconic Cabot Tower up Signal Hill on your Canada cruise. The castle-like structure was constructed to commemorate the 400th anniversary of John Cabot’s voyage to Newfoundland – the Italian explorer sailed from Bristol to North America in 1957 under the commission of Henry VII and discovered Newfoundland and Cape Breton Island. The spot is also famous for receiving the first transatlantic wireless message in 1901.

MusicSydney, Nova Scotia

Sydney is is the capital of Cape Breton Island at the eastern end of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. It boasts excellent hospitality blended with metropolitan charm.

The waterfront is a delightful place to mooch around – admire the harbour’s ships, listen in to a busker and look up at the world’s largest fiddle, made in recognition of Cape Breton’s musical talent.

Tourist highlights in Sydney include the Cape Breton Miners’ Museum where you can take an underground guided tour of the coal mine underneath the museum. Artsy folk will like the Cape Breton Centre for Craft & Design, where you can admire the work of more than 90 local artisans and even buy some unique items, while beer lovers should check out Breton Brewing – you can sample a variety of beers in the tap room here.

Nova Scotia Canada
Prince Edward Island

HistoryCharlottetown, Prince Edward Island

Cruise Canada to get your Anne of Green Gables fix – L. M. Montgomery’s novel is set on Prince Edward Island. Charlottetown is the capital of the picturesque island and offers a pretty waterfront boardwalk, Victorian-era buildings and a lively harbour.

With a history dating back to 1720, Charlottetown played a major part as the birthplace of the Canadian Confederation. Why not take a guided tour of downtown to find out more about its colonial settlement, pirate invasions and liquor bootlegging?

There are plenty of interesting spots in Charlottetown. Beaconsfield Historic House, built in 1877, is an elegant Victorian house-turned-museum with period rooms to explore. If you’re after foodie things, go on a COWS Creamery Tour (the company makes world-famous, Super Premium Ice Cream and award-winning cheeses) or check out Anne of Green Gables Chocolates where you watch chocolate-covered crisps being made in store.


Gaspé is in the French-speaking Canadian province of Quebec on a peninsula home to wild and wonderful scenery. Fun fact, the name means “Bone Cape” and was inspired by the many whale bones found along the beach.

The outdoor paradise is set on a bay surrounded by the Appalachian Mountains, salmon rivers (more than 1,500 anglers frequent these annually) and the impressive Forillon National Park.

Sites to visit on Canada cruises include Manoir Le Boutillier – dating back to 1850 it was once home to John LeBoutillier, a leading Gaspé cod merchant, and has been designated a historic monument – and the Cap-des-Rosiers lighthouse – built in 1858, it’s the tallest lighthouse in Canada.

Uncover the peninsula’s maritime heritage at the Musée de la Gaspésie where there are contemporary multimedia activities (such as a VR fishing boat experience) and more traditional exhibits.

Gaspe Canada


Get your big city kicks in culture-packed Montréal on a Canada cruise. Old Montréal features 18th-century facades and the heritage building Basilique Notre-Dame while 20th-century icons include the Stade Olympique and Habitat 67. Take a long walk or hop on a bike to discover the city’s treasures.

For art, head to gallery La Guilde, swing by Little Italy for a bustling gourmet scene, designer boutiques and impressive architecture, and learn about Montréal’s past at Château Ramezay. Other top museums are the superb Museum of Fine Arts and McCord Museum.

Hungry? Food is fantastic in Montréal with plenty of brilliant restaurants and bars to stop at – don’t miss poutine (fries covered in cheese curds and gravy), Kamouraska lamb or Arctic Char.

BattlesQuébec City

Québec City is one of North America’s oldest colonial settlements – think 17th-century squares, an imposing fortress, cobbled squares and flower box-adorned buildings. The city is a mecca for culture and the arts and is home to 37 National Historic Sites of Canada plus a plethora of museums and theatres.

The old town is very scenic – the lower half’s Quartier Petit Champlain features squares decorated with murals and artisan shops, while the upper half exudes Victorian glamour with its boardwalk and five-star historic Fairmont Le Château Frontenac hotel. You’ll get a great view of the city and St Lawrence River from up here – most likely to the soundtrack of a street musician.

Be sure to visit the Citadelle of Quebec; North America’s largest British fortress has good views plus an on-site museum for military fans. More history can be found at the Plains of Abraham – once the battle site of the Seven Years’ War and now a riverside park studded with war monuments – and the Musée de la Civilisation.

Fairmont Le Château Frontenac hotel Quebec Canada


Baie-Comeau is a city on the St. Lawrence River in Quebec. The big highlight here is Parc Nature de Pointe-aux-Outardes, considered one of the best bird-watching sites in the province and home to nine different ecosystems from sand flats to a salt marsh.

The children’s picture book-worthy Pointe-des-Monts Lighthouse is the second oldest in Quebec and worth a visit – there’s a heritage museum inside and panoramic views from the top.

Be sure to savour tasty local fish and seafood during your time here, too, as well as craft beers – a standout is Crâââbe, a bitter brewed with crab shells!

WatersportsHavre St. Pierre

Also on the St. Lawrence River is Havre St. Pierre. It’s known as the gateway to the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve which consists of a chain of roughly 30 limestone islands and about 1,000 islets and reefs.

The reserve stretches for about 160 km (100 miles) along the coast and river estuaries, featuring beaches, forests, natural rock monoliths, barrens and peat bogs. Seals, dolphins and whales can all be seen amid this surreal landscape and hiking, kayaking, fishing, boating and scuba diving are all activities to be enjoyed during your Canada cruise port stop.

Other top sights include the tourist information hub Centre Culturel et d’Interprétation. The building was constructed in 1943 and served as a general shop named Labrador Stores, now it houses various objects and photographs that tell the story of Havre St. Pierre’s history.

There’s also an impressive wooden church – L’Église de Rivière-au-Tonnerre – built between 1908 and 1912 by more than 300 volunteers; there are 60 hand-carved sculptures in the nave.

As for food when you cruise Canada, the fishing is top-notch in Havre St. Pierre so expect to tuck into lots of snow crab, scallops, lobster and salmon.

Canada kayaking
Gros Morne National Park Canada

SceneryCorner Brook, Newfoundland

Corner Brook is set against the dramatic backdrop of the Appalachian Mountains – the rugged slopes and thick forest on either side of the Bay of Islands, a freshwater fjord, make for a scenic first impression as you cruise towards it, too.

Famous British explorer Captain James Cook charted the coast here in the 1760s and the memorial to him set on a cliff top offers a spectacular view over the bay and you can see the maps he created in the museum. There are lots of walking trails perfect for soaking up the island’s gems on foot, including Captain Cook’s Trail and Three Bear Mountain Trail for vistas of the city, the Bay and the Blomidon Mountains.

For truly jaw-dropping scenery (not that you’re short of this on Canada cruises!) head to Gros Morne National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site boasting a varied terrain of bogs, tundra, freshwater fjord, salt marshes, forest and waterfalls.

Sample salted meat and fish (especially cod!) as well as pies and desserts made from local berries, such as partridgeberry during your time here.

Cap aux Meules, Iles-de-la-Madeleine


Cap aux Meules is the final stop on your Canada cruise 2023 before Ambience makes its way back across the Atlantic. The island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence boasts dramatic coastlines hewn by the waves and picturesque fishing villages.

You’ll be safe as houses on your cruise, but in the past, many ships met a watery end here, indeed the church of St. Pierre at Lavernière was built using materials from shipwrecks. Luckily a lighthouse now prevents other vessels from the same demise!

Nearby is the Îles-de-la-Madeleine generating station, the largest diesel-powered thermal generating station in Québec. Visitors can take a tour to learn all about electricity on the island.

There are plenty of shops, bars and restaurants in Cap aux Meules but nature isn’t too far away, with Parc des Buck – rich in flora and birdlife – worth exploring on foot.

Published 11.09.22