Sign up to our newsletter

Wonderful wildlife encounters in Canada: What to see in each cruise port

Cruise Canada and you can expect to get close to some of the planet’s most fascinating wildlife species. Indulge in breathtaking destinations when you travel this fall.

Canada cruise vacations promise a captivating adventure with an array of wildlife encounters.

As you cruise Canada, you’ll be able to explore some of the countries’ most wildlife-rich destinations – immerse yourself in natural splendors as you sight majestic marine creatures, rare bird species and enchanting wildlife amidst pristine landscapes on a vacation you’ll never forget.

We’ve taken a peek at what fauna you can get close to during a fall wildlife vacation on Canada’s east coast.

St. John’s, Newfoundland

St. Johns, the vibrant capital of Newfoundland, offers a splendid gateway to experience the wonders of Canada wildlife. In September, as the Atlantic waters cool down, humpback whales begin their migration south – see, you’re not the only ones cruising Canada in style!

Embark on a thrilling whale-watching excursion from St. John’s harbor to admire these gentle giants breaching and spouting. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for puffins, gannets and other seabirds, too – they all thrive in this region.

For land-based wildlife encounters as you cruise Canada, visit the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve – it’s North America’s largest Atlantic puffin colony and is estimated to house more than 260,000 pairs of Atlantic puffins! Fun fact – the colorful beaked birds mate for life and generally return to the same burrow with their mate every year. Maybe you’ll come back too in 2024?

bald eagle

Sydney, Nova Scotia

Sydney, nestled along the scenic Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, boasts diverse Canada wildlife experiences. September marks the peak of the Atlantic salmon run, a magnificent natural event that draws avid anglers and nature enthusiasts on Canada cruises.

Why don’t you join a guided fishing trip in the rivers of Nova Scotia to see the salmon’s impressive upstream journey for yourself? Additionally, keep an eye out for bald eagles [pictured] soaring above the Cape Breton Highlands and seals sunbathing on the shores.

Meanwhile, a visit to the nearby Bird Islands offers opportunities to spot rare species such as the Atlantic puffin, razorbills and black-legged kittiwakes.

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

As the lush landscapes of Prince Edward Island (of Anne of Green Gables fame) prepare for fall foliage, the island’s waters become a haven for marine life.

Take a leisurely cruise from Charlottetown to explore the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where you might encounter playful dolphins and seals swimming alongside your boat if Mother Nature plays ball.

The region is also known for its impressive seabird colonies, making it an excellent destination for twitchers. Keep your camera ready for sightings of northern gannets, terns and common murres as you cruise Canada. The island’s red foxes and raccoons may also make an appearance along the shores.

Prince-Edward-Island canada
cruise Canada Bonaventure-Island gannets


Gaspé, in Quebec’s easternmost region, is a treasure trove for wildlife enthusiasts on a Canada cruise.

As summer transitions to fall, you can glimpse impressive monarch butterfly migrations in the region. Stretch out those sea legs on a hike through the scenic Forillon National Park to experience this awe-inspiring natural phenomenon.

Ideal for birdwatchers, Bonaventure Island [pictured], part of the Gaspé Peninsula, is home to one of the world’s largest northern gannet colonies; the sight of thousands of these guys nesting on the cliffs is truly remarkable. They’re impressive underwater too – the birds can dive at gobsmacking speeds of up to 100 km per hour!

Gaspé is also a prime location for spotting minke whales, seals and even elusive orcas. How’s your whale song coming along?


During your cruise port of call in Montreal, it’s likely you’ll stick to exploring the city itself; there’s everything here from well-known landmarks (such as Notre-Dame Basilica and Mount Royal Park) and local delicious cuisine to Montreal’s many museums and galleries.

However, if you’re looking to escape the urban center and get your nature fix on your Canada cruise, Montreal’s proximity to the St. Lawrence River does offer good wildlife opportunities.

Take a cruise along the riverbanks to encounter various bird species, including herons, cormorants and Canadian geese, while for a more immersive experience, check out the nearby Parc des Rapides and Lachine Canal, where you can spot turtles, beavers and countless birds.

cruise Canada downtown-montrea
st-lawrence-river-whales cruise canada


Quebec, with its historic charm and cultural richness, also provides excellent Canada wildlife encounters for those looking to go beyond the city’s metropolitan attractions.

Why not take a boat tour along the St. Lawrence River [pictured] to catch a glimpse of beluga whales, which often frequent the estuary during September?

Alternatively, in the city itself, Montmorency Falls Park offers opportunities to spot black bears and various bird species, including peregrine falcons. If you’re lucky, you may even witness the annual migration of snow geese as they pass through Quebec on their journey south.


Nature enthusiasts cruising Canada to Quebec’s Baie-Comeau can explore the Manicouagan-Uapishka Biosphere Reserve, where sightings of majestic moose and graceful caribou roaming freely are common.

The region also provides the amazing opportunity to spot the annual migration of monarch butterflies [pictured] – a truly magical spectacle.

For birdwatchers, a visit to the nearby Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve is a must – it’s home to mighty limestone formations and a variety of seabird colonies.


Havre St. Pierre

Havre St. Pierre is a picturesque region also offering a gateway to the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve, where visitors can check out birds aplenty (no, not like that) – expect northern gannets, puffins and razorbills.

The park’s aforementioned unique limestone formations add to the allure of this Canada wildlife haven and lucky travelers might spot seals and other marine life while exploring the coastal waters.

Corner Brook

After bigger beasts? Corner Brook, in Newfoundland, serves up great opportunities for whale watching, with frequent sightings of magnificent humpback whales [pictured]. Be sure to admire their playful breaches and spouts as these gargantuan mammals head off to find a mate in warmer climes (good luck dudes!).

The scenic coastal landscapes also attract various bird species, including seabirds such as puffins and gannets. Jokes about how your partner resembles the latter at the buffet are welcome…


Cap aux Meule

Cap aux Meules, in Quebec, is birdwatcher heaven – twitchers can spot northern gannets (there seems to be no escaping them!), great blue herons pictured] and various seabird colonies here as the region’s coastal areas provide a perfect backdrop for observing these birds in their natural habitats.

You might even spy marine wildlife such as seals and dolphins while exploring the surrounding waters.

Sure gets our seal of approval…

Published 07.26.23