Canada has the world’s largest coastline, bordering the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic Oceans. And Canada’s freshwater water bodies hold around 20% of the planet’s freshwater. Canada’s diverse waters also offer cruisers a wide range of once-in-a-lifetime experiences, like spotting a beluga whale, walking in Viking footsteps, or sighting a spirit bear. Here are four of the best Canadian cruises to help get you inspired.
Explore Eastern Canada
Canada’s eastern waters are filled with all kinds of wildlife in the spring, summer, and fall, transforming the region into an ideal cruise locale.
With prices starting at $3,995 per person, Adventure Life offers a 12-day cruise aboard the Ocean Endeavour, a luxurious 200-passenger yacht, which visits several important sites in Eastern Canada.
The cruise starts in the quaint but vibrant French islands of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon before heading to Cape Breton for a taste of Acadian culture and breathtaking hiking in Cape Breton Highlands Park. Travelers also visit the historic Fortress of Louisbourg, established in 1713, before spending a few days taking in all southern Nova Scotia has to offer, such as whale watching, world-class seafood, the world’s highest tides and traditional fishing villages — not to mention specs of islands whose protected shores and surrounding waters house thousands of nesting birds, marine mammals, and endangered plant life. The tour also stops in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, a UNESCO World Heritage site where legendary sailing vessels like the Bluenose schooner were built. Weather permitting, the tour also takes travelers to Sable Island, a spot of land the size of Manhattan that boasts plenty of wildlife, including the world-famous wild Sable Island horses.
The tour winds down with a day at sea passing through The Gully Marine Protected Area, providing yet another great chance to spot marine life. During the crossing, staff also make sure visitors know what to expect when they reach their final port in St. John’s, Newfoundland — a party!
Cruise the Mighty Saint Lawrence
Adventure Canada’s 11-day Mighty Saint Lawrence cruise follows the Saint Lawrence River from Quebec to the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and beyond, visiting Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island before ending in the French islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon. Those lucky enough to book this cruise get amazing wildlife viewing opportunities, including whale watching in the Saguenay Fjord and the chance to spot famous, and highly endangered, Saguenay belugas. Other cruise stops are usually flush with migrating birds during the spring and summer months, including Mingan Islands National Park, the Anticosti Islands, Forillon National Park, and Île-Bonaventure Provincial Park. Bird lovers may also get the chance to see endangered piping plovers and roseate terns during a stop in the Magdalen Islands.
Starting at just under $3,600 per person, this cruise includes lots of luxury extras, like all park and port fees, coach bus tours, and zodiac excursions. And if you need more incentive there’s plenty of ways to score discounts on this gem of a cruise, such as 15 % off berth costs for bookings made before October 31, 2019, free single supplements in cabin categories 3–7, and 30 % off berth costs for people under the age of 30.
Search for Spirit Bears
Canada’s west coast is home to several unique ecosystems but one of the most famous is The Great Bear Rainforest.
This coastal temperate rainforest that stretches some 250 miles between central British Columbia to the Alaskan Panhandle is home to large populations of grizzly bears, black bears, and the elusive Kermode bears — a cream-colored subspecies of black bears better known as spirit bears. The Great Bear Rainforest, or GBR, is also set against a mix of breathtaking backdrops, including fjords, massive waterfalls over moss-backed cliffs, and 1,000-year-old cedars.
Anytime is a good time to visit the GBR. But from late August through the middle of October salmon populations return to the area to spawn, creating a feeding frenzy made up of species such as orcas, coastal gray wolves, cougars, sea otters, sea lions, and several types of marine birds and birds of prey. Autumn is also the season when you’ve got the best odds of spotting a spirit bear.
For just over $5,000 per person, Maple Leaf Adventures offers the ultimate 9-day luxury guided cruise through The Great Bear Rainforest. The cruise takes visitors in and around GBR’s waterways on a gorgeous 92-foot sailing schooner that accommodates eight guests plus four or five crew. The specifics of every trip depend on the weather, group interests, and wildlife activity. But most cruises include several expert-led wildlife treks, fishing trips, nature hikes, opportunities to learn about the local First Nations peoples, and even a dip in a hot spring.
Head North … Really North
If you’ve ever considered visiting the Arctic and are a major hiker, history buff, or geology lover, One Ocean Expeditions has a cruise designed for you. With prices starting at around $5,300 per person, travelers on the company’s Canada’s East Coast–Labrador and Torngat Mountains Explorer spend 10-nights cruising north from historic Saint Louisbourg, Nova Scotia, along the wild coasts of western Newfoundland and eastern Labrador before ending in Iqaluit.
Along the way travelers visit some of Canada’s most pristine, rugged, and sprawling national parks, including Torngat Mountains National Park and Gros Morne National Park. Aside from their jaw-dropping scenery and amazing hiking trails, these parks also house significant geological and historical sites like Tablelands, a place where you can walk on part of Earth’s mantle, and L'Anse aux Meadows, where Vikings first landed in North America around A.D. 1,000. Other highlights of the cruise include a trip to see the Canadian Shield, ancient rocks that are an exposed part of the earth’s crust, and Martin Bay. Throughout the trip cruisers also usually see a variety of wildlife, such as several species of marine mammals and seabirds, as well as moose and polar bears.
As if all this weren’t enticing enough, the price of this cruise covers just about everything, like almost all tour and excursion costs. And if you’re worried about having to outfit yourself for the journey worry no more. This cruise even includes the complimentary use of an expedition gear package worth approximately $900.