Cruise to Canada

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Canada Cruises: Your guide to sailing both east and west coasts

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  • Couple taking a selfie with cityscape and water in the background
  • Two people on a viewing platform overlooking trees during autumn

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Frequently asked questions

There are close to 30 cruise ports in Canada, spread across the west coast, east coast and New England, and the Canadian Arctic. The most popular destinations include Vancouver, Victoria, Halifax and Quebec City.

A cruise in Canada might navigate the windswept west coast, from British Columbia up to Alaska, part of the United States. Visit Victoria, known for its castles, gardens and bold British Colonial past evident in its tearooms, horse-drawn carriages and double-decker buses. In Vancouver, explore the 400-hectare natural rainforest park in the heart of the city, or shop at the fashionable Granville Island. These itineraries often journey through the Inside Passage and visit Alaskan ports like Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan. Some cruises also explore magnificent sites like the Glacier Bay National Park.  

Cruises on the east coast of Canada frequently begin in New York or Boston, with ports of call including Sydney and Halifax in Nova Scotia, or Saint John in New Brunswick, which borders the Gulf of St Lawrence. Plenty of itineraries also manoeuvre the Saint Lawrence Seaway into Quebec, with a stopover in Quebec City.  

If you want to explore the remarkable Canadian Arctic, cruises depart from Toronto or St Johns (or sometimes Greenland and Iceland), visiting Baffin Island and sailing through the legendary Northwest Passage. Up here, you’ll see icebergs, glaciers and incredible wildlife like polar bears, beluga whales and reindeer.


The peak season is from June to September, taking advantage of the warmer summer months. With just-right temperatures and an abundance of wildlife out and about such as moose and even bears, expect to enjoy lovely mild days and spot seals basking on the rocks. Autumn, from September to November, is also a good time to cruise Canada, especially along the east coast where passengers can view the magnificent, burnished foliage along the coast from the comfort of the deck. Canadian Arctic cruises only run during summer and July to August is the best time to spot polar bears.


Absolutely! Many of the larger cruise ships sailing here offer kids' clubs for all ages, swimming pools, waterparks, sports courts, games rooms and family-friendly activities. Shore excursions throughout Canada will also keep the whole family happy, with outdoor adventures like cycling, hiking and kayaking, as well as wildlife encounters and fascinating sites like the Titanic Museum in Halifax or Anne of Green Gables’ house in Nova Scotia.


Cruises will offer a huge variety of food, from classic buffets to international cuisine and even Canadian specialties. Most ships will restock while they are sailing in Canada, so you’ll get to try lots of local produce. The seafood in Canada is fresh and flavourful and will be a big part of your cruise dining experience, especially if you’re sailing in the Maritime Provinces along the east coast. From lobster to shrimp, crab and halibut, the just-caught specialities are commonly made into seafood chowders and soups too. Another must-try dish on Canadian menus is poutine, a unique combination of fries, cheese curds and gravy. Give it a try — you’ll find street-food versions in the cities and more upscale versions incorporating foie gras on five-star menus. Expect lots of sweet maple syrup treats as well and you can even visit a traditional sugar shack to see it being harvested.


The official currency is the Canadian Dollar (CAD) and in Alaska or New England it’s the United States Dollar (USD). Most places will also accept Australian and international credit cards.


Canadian cruises can range from as short as four days, visiting just one or two ports, up to three-week epic journeys along the coast. 

One of the most popular routes, which sails from Vancouver along the west coast and into Alaska, takes seven days in one direction or around 14 days as a loop. This includes time spent sailing through the beautiful Inside Passage and Glacier National Park. On the east coast, cruises around Canada and New England tend to be shorter and can last from four to 10 days. If you want to venture further into the Canadian Arctic, with a transit through the Northwest Passage and exploration of West Greenland, expect to be seafaring for around 20 days.


Different regions of Canada have their own unique cultural traditions, from the Celtic community of Cape Breton Island to the French-speaking Acadians of the Maritime Provinces and the Indigenous peoples of the Canadian Arctic. Many cruises will immerse you in these diverse aspects of Canadian culture through music, performances and culinary experiences. Expedition cruises will feature lectures and workshops that focus on Canadian culture, wildlife and history, preparing you for shore excursions in the next port.


Canada has an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) system similar to that in the USA, which is a requirement for travellers from most countries to be able to fly into Canada. You can apply for this only before you travel and it currently costs CA$7. If your cruise visits ports in the USA, like Alaska or New England, you will also need to apply for a Visa Waiver through the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA). You should always check with your relevant government authority before you travel.


Yes, themed cruises will focus on wildlife, Canadian history, food and wine, or culture and music. Sail in autumn and you can enjoy a cruise themed around the changing foliage of the east coast or take an expedition cruise through the Wine Islands of British Columbia. Onboard a themed cruise, you can expect food, entertainment and activities centred around your passions and you’ll meet likeminded people from around the world.


If you love the five-star life, then there’s a cruise ship for you. Luxury lines sailing in Canada offer spacious suites, indulgent spas, world-class cuisine and next level service. Expect a private butler, all-inclusive fine dining and premium wines, and an immersive shore excursion program. Try Scenic, Regent Seven Seas, Silversea, Seabourn, Ponant and Crystal Cruises.


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