From the cobblestone streets of Québec to the shores of Newfoundland, this journey is food for the soul
The fall colors are in full force, the sun is warm on your face, and fascinating cultures, natural beauty and foodie experiences await. It’s time to embark on a AAA Washington Concierge cruise experience, the Newfoundland & New England Discovery Cruise aboard Holland America Line’s elegant Zaandam.
This is the cruise that dreams are made of. A mythic journey along the scenic St. Lawrence River and out to the Atlantic, the Newfoundland & New England Discovery Cruise is a cultural immersion into Québec, Newfoundland and the Maritimes.
If you’ve dreamed of strolling along the cobblestone streets of Québec City, exploring tiny fishing villages in Newfoundland, or soaking up breathtaking scenery along the Atlantic coast, now is the time to connect with a AAA Travel advisor. They will partner with you to create a unique travel experience that’s perfectly tailored just for you.
This voyage, as the French would say, takes you to three Canadian provinces, plus Maine and Massachusetts. Depending on the time of year, you can begin your cruise in Montréal and conclude it in Boston, or vice versa. And depending on the tides, some cruises take a slightly different route. Your AAA Travel advisor knows these routes intimately and can identify all your options so you don’t miss a thing on your bucket list.
Begin your journey in Québec, Canada
Say bonjour to your first day of an immersive travel experience as you begin your adventure in the Canadian province of Québec. As locals would say, bienvenue (welcome)!
From the moment you arrive, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to delicious food, arts and culture experiences, breathtaking views, music and entertainment, whale watching, and the most beautiful fall foliage you’ve ever seen.
Before you embark, here are some handy facts about Québec:
- It’s Canada’s largest province.
- It’s the home of Canada’s second largest city, Montréal, which happens to be an island.
- French is its official language.
- Québec has 11 Indigenous nations, each with its own distinct history, language and culture.
- Its origins as a French colony date back to 1534. It later became an English colony.
- Across “la belle province” (the beautiful province), you can enjoy exquisite French food, as well as culinary traditions from around the word.
Joining the crew for this experience is a AAA Travel advisor, who will be standing by to offer expert recommendations, including unforgettable shore excursions and dining experiences.
Montréal, Québec, Canada
Begin your journey in Montréal, a melting pot of cultures and languages that will surprise and delight your senses. You’ll hear dozens of languages spoken in addition to French and be spoiled for choice when it comes to food, shopping, culture and entertainment options. Indulge your passion for live music, discover street art, explore architecture and art, find treasures at specialty boutiques, and soak up the unique Montréal vibe. No matter what your interests, there’s something amazing in-store for you in Montréal — a city that hums with energy and excitement.
Tip: Make the very most of your 1-night pre-cruise stay by asking your AAA Travel advisor for recommendations about how to best experience this colorful city.
Québec City, Québec, Canada
The next port of call is Québec City, or as they say in Canada, la ville de Québec. This storybook city began as a cliffside fortress. Stroll the cobblestone streets, take a deep dive into 400 years of history, and immerse yourself in French Canadian culture.
This unforgettable city is overflowing with charm and culture. It’s also the only walled city north of Mexico. Once you pass through the city gates, you will be transported back in time. You’ll easily spot the Château Frontenac, the city’s most famous landmark, which also happens to be the most photographed hotel in the world. There is never any shortage of things to do in Québec City. Spend time exploring the rich history of the Citadelle de Québec (the biggest British fortress in North America), the exceptional architecture of the Basilica Cathedral Notre-Dame de Québec (home to the first Catholic parish north of the Spanish colonies), and the remarkable architecture of this fairytale destination.
Baie-Comeau, Québec, Canada
Located on the stunning Côte-Nord (North Coast), Baie-Comeau is known throughout the world for whale watching, specifically the beautiful beluga, which lives in the St. Lawrence River year-round. The river and Baie-Comeau are synonymous with whales.
Baie-Comeau is also known for its cuisine — or, as locals would say, gastronomy. Québec is a foodie paradise and Baie-Comeau will not disappoint. Local chefs specialize in farm-to-table cuisine, sourcing the freshest seafood, berries, charcuterie — and, of course, maple syrup. Don’t forget to ask about local cheeses (fromage) and pastries (pâtisseries). Combine divine food with breathtaking views, fascinating local history, wonderful galleries and a warm French-Canadian welcome and you’ll fall in love with this scenic bay.
Havre Saint-Pierre, Québec, Canada
Continue your adventure along the Côte-Nord and experience panoramic views of the Gulf of St. Lawrence (Golfe-du-Saint-Laurent) in the small harbor village of Havre Saint-Pierre. Once a small fishing community, Havre Saint-Pierre has become a bucket list travel destination for its natural beauty and the warm welcome it offers visitors. You’ll hear Acadian French spoken here, a different dialect than elsewhere in Canada. Havre Saint-Pierre is home to the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve, with its limestone monoliths, rock formations and incredible wildlife.
Set sail for Newfoundland, Canada
From Havre Saint-Pierre you will sail to Newfoundland, which locals affectionately call “The Rock.”
Here’s a little background about Canada’s youngest province:
- Officially called Newfoundland and Labrador, the province is split between the island of Newfoundland and Labrador, which is attached to the mainland of Québec.
- It would rank fourth in size behind Alaska, Texas, and California… if it were one of the United States.
- It has its own time zone. Newfoundland has one of the few 30-minute time zones that’s not on the hour. It’s 90 minutes ahead of eastern time.
- Newfoundland became a province of Canada in 1949. Before then, it was a dominion of Great Britain.
- It was once the home of the busiest airport in the world, Gander International Airport. Until the 1950s, Gander was the refueling stop for aircraft flying between the East Coast and Europe.
- France is just a stone’s throw away. That’s because the French islands Saint Pierre and Miquelon are about 12 miles off the coast Newfoundland.
Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Canada
Your first port of call is Corner Brook. Located on the west coast of Newfoundland, Corner Brook is known for its spectacular ocean and mountain views, vibrant culture, amazing seafood, energizing music scene, and most importantly, its people. Newfoundlanders are often called “the salt of the earth” and you will have a welcome like none other in Corner Brook.
There’s so much to love about Newfoundland — bright colors are everywhere, there’s music in the air, and there’s no shortage of welcoming smiles. No matter where your shore excursion takes you, there will be enchanting views and the opportunity to connect with a people and place that’s truly unique.
St. Anthony, Newfoundland, Canada
Rugged coastline, whales, natural wonders — and warmhearted people — take center stage in the small harbor of St. Anthony. Located on the Northern tip of Newfoundland, St. Anthony has its own special blend of local music, dialect and food. Step ashore in this fishing village and explore the Viking settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, or simply roam the meadows and marvel in the pristine scenery.
St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada
The capital city of Newfoundland, St. John’s prides itself on being 500-years-young. Simply stated, there’s no shortage of charisma in St. John’s. From its jellybean-colored row houses to quaint streets, it’s a village within a city. Stroll through shops and galleries, enjoy a pint and live music at a friendly pub, relish locally-sourced seafood at one of many fine restaurants, and get to know this historic city. Beyond the breathtaking views, you’ll soon come to love the St. John’s for its people, and their friendliness and zest for life.
Your AAA Travel advisor will be brimming with ideas for a memorable day in St. John’s. Tap into their expertise to uncover cultural experiences that will connect you with the wonderful people of St. John’s.
Make the crossing to Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is the third Canadian province you’ll explore on your voyage.
Here’s some inspiration for your time ashore:
- 12 whale species can be spotted in Nova Scotia’s waters. Whale watching is epic.
- Music is woven into the fabric of Nova Scotian culture. Don’t be surprised to be invited to a ceilidh — a celebration of song, stories and dance.
- 50,000 tons of lobster are hauled from Nova Scotia’s waters each year.
- Halifax is closer to Dublin, Ireland than it is to Victoria, B.C.
- Close to one-third of the population has Scottish ancestry.
- Nova Scotia has the largest Scottish Gaelic-speaking community outside of Scotland.
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
You’re guaranteed a warm welcome when you go ashore in the beautiful city of Halifax. You’ll enjoy a warm Maritime welcome as you walk along the oceanside boardwalk, visit the Victorian gardens, snap photos of the harbor, and pop into shops and pubs. Don’t be surprised when the Noon Gun fires from the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site — it’s real canon fire. The Noon Gun has been a local tradition since 1857 when Halifax was a British stronghold. To this day, gunners dress in the 3rd Brigade Royal Artillery uniform. You might also hear bagpipes and fiddles in the air. Halifax’s roots are firmly planted in Scottish traditions and its hybrid of cultures offers new and extraordinary cultural experiences.
For added adventure, plan a day trip to Peggy’s Cove to explore its historic lighthouse and capture pics of this picture-postcard village.
All aboard for Maine
No cruise to New England would be complete without time spent along the gentle coastline of Maine. With more than 4,000 islands, Maine’s coastline is a fascinating and stunning ecosystem waiting for you to discover.
Here’s a window into what makes Maine special:
- It’s the first state to see daylight.
- Maine has an official state dessert, the whoopie pie.
- Its nickname is Pine Tree State.
- Locals refer to themselves as “Mainers” or “Down Easters.”
- There are 65 lighthouses along its coast.
- Maine has an unusual number of UFO sightings each year.
Bar Harbor, Maine
You’ll return to U.S. waters as you sail from Nova Scotia to the magical city of Bar Harbor. Ocean cliffs, rocky beaches, glacier-formed lakes and boreal forests offer nature lovers an entirely new and fresh experience. Venture to Acadia National Park and see Cadillac Mountain, hike along the trail network or simply soak up the view. For those with a passion for art and architecture, Bar Harbor is a rare opportunity to tour historic homes and buildings of America’s Golden Age.
From beautiful Bar Harbor, you sail to Boston, where your voyage concludes. But for years to come, you will carry with you the warmth of the people of Québec, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Maine — memories that make you smile.
Fall is arguably the best time of year to explore this welcoming and wonderful corner of the world. It’s time to turn the dream into reality and book your passage on 2023 or 2024 sailings of the Newfoundland & New England Discovery Cruise with a AAA Travel expert.
—Written by AAA Washington staff
—Top photo: ©Dru Kennedy/Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism
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