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6 top tips for visiting Canada in the fall

Canada cruise vacations in the fall unveil breathtaking colors as the country’s foliage transforms into a rich tapestry of red, orange and yellow. Here are some top tips for sailing this season.

Cruise Canada and you can enjoy the best of the country’s vibrant foliage and crisp weather as they team up to create a picturesque backdrop for exploration.

There’s no denying a Canada cruise is pretty different from sojourns in the Med or Caribbean, however, so we’ve rounded up our top tips to help you make the most of your fall cruise.

1. Plan ahead

The brilliant thing about taking a cruise vacation is that you never need to worry about getting from A to B; that said you will need to consider your time ashore. Will you take an Ambassador cruise shore excursion (and indeed there are plenty to choose from) or go it alone?

Be sure to research your options well in advance, and book your experiences soon after purchase to avoid places filling up – and be sure to check the weather forecast in advance.

How cold is fall in Canada?

In Quebec, fall weather brings a mix of cool and crisp conditions, with gradually decreasing temperatures as the season progresses. September sees daytime highs averaging around 18- 22°C while October brings cooler temperatures ranging from 8-14°C.

Nights can become quite chilly when you cruise Canada, especially in October, with temperatures dropping to single digits Celsius. However, in northern regions and mountainous areas, temperatures can drop even lower, and there’s a potential for frosty nights.

2. Pack layers

In Canada’s fall, it’s important to dress in layers to accommodate the fluctuating temperatures. You want your wardrobe to be as versatile as possible so you can add or remove layers as needed to stay comfortable and prepared for changing weather throughout the day.

What to pack for a Canada cruise in September & October

When you cruise Canada you’ll likely be getting out and about to explore your ports of call and maybe even getting active on some more adventurous shore excursions; even hanging out on your balcony requires the correct clothes so you can admire the scenery without shivering.

So, what to wear in fall in Canada: start with a moisture-wicking base layer, such as long-sleeve shirts and thermal leggings, to keep you comfortable and dry then add a sweater or fleece as a mid-layer for insulation.

A waterproof and windproof jacket or coat is essential as an outer layer to shield you from rain and chilly winds on a Canada cruise and, depending on the region and local climate, you might also want to bring thermal underwear, an extra sweater or a heavier coat for colder days.

Make sure your footwear consists of comfortable, waterproof shoes or boots with good traction to navigate potentially wet or slippery conditions, don’t forget accessories such as a warm hat, gloves and a scarf, and consider sunglasses to shield your eyes from wind and glare.

Lastly, opt for jeans or trousers made from thicker materials to offer some warmth, and choose warm, moisture-wicking socks for your feet.

As for your time on board your ship make sure you pack casual clothes for around the ship plus dressier options for formal nights. Throw in some fitness gear, too if you plan on hitting the gym, and don’t forget swimwear for trips to the pool and spa! And underwear, always pack underwear.

3. Admire the “fall foliage

Fall in Canada typically occurs from September to November, with September marking the beginning of cooler temperatures and the gradual transformation of foliage while October is often the peak of the “fall” foliage season.

The culture-packed city of Montreal [below] and the charming old-world streets of Quebec City are both enhanced by the backdrop of pretty fall leaves while calls along the St. Lawrence River open up lush landscapes painted with an eye-catching palette of red, orange and gold – all reflected in the river’s waters.

If you want to escape to the countryside during your cruise, the Laurentian Mountains offer breathtaking scenic drives and outdoor activities.

4. Prepare for wildlife viewing

Fall is prime time for wildlife viewing on cruises to Canada as animals prepare for the winter months. Keep an eye out for moose and white-tailed deer grazing near forested areas, while black bears might be preparing for hibernation and foraging for food.

Along the St. Lawrence River and its estuaries, you might catch a glimpse of beluga whales, seals and other marine life as they migrate or feed. Additionally, birdwatching enthusiasts can enjoy the seasonal migration of various bird species, including waterfowl and raptors.

If you’re keen to get stuck into wildlife spotting on Canada cruises, consider taking such equipment as: binoculars or a spotting scope to observe animals from a safe distance, a camera with a telephoto lens for photography, weather-appropriate clothing that blends with the surroundings, sturdy footwear, insect repellent, and a small backpack for essentials.

5. Enjoy seasonal foods

Fall is a great period to sample seasonal Canadian cuisine. Indulge in maple syrup [below, left] treats, freshly harvested apples (often transformed into warm apple crisp or cider), and local specialties like poutine [below, right] (crispy French fries topped with melted fresh cheese curds and gravy) on cruises to Canada.

Other fall comfort foods in Canada include tourtière (meat pie) – a flaky pastry filled with pork, beef and veal (often served at Christmas) – and pouding chômeur (poor man’s pudding) – a dessert made with cake soaked in maple syrup – along with a smorgasbord of hearty soups, stews and roasted meats prepared with locally sourced ingredients.

6. Travel with the correct documents

Do I need a Canada visa for a cruise to Canada? If you are an America Citizen then no, you do not need a visa.

You will only need a valid passport which must be valid for the duration of your stay. However, it’s always worth checking entry requirements ahead of travel.

There are currently no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for passengers entering Canada.

Published 08.13.23