Set sail for a spring small ship ocean cruise to remember aboard Vantage Travel’s 5-star Ocean Explorer. This seasonal journey into Canada kicks off in Boston, where springtime temps and sunnier days provide the superlative backdrop to the city’s colonial charm and your introduction to famous New England enclaves like Cambridge, historic Lexington and Concord, and Maine’s Acadia National Park.
Then, watch Canada awaken to springtime in the maritime province of Prince Edward Island, memorialized in splendid fashion in Anne of Green Gables. Get inside this beloved series on a tour of Cavendish Bay and Prince Edward Island National Park. Discover classic Nova Scotia in rugged Peggy’s Cove and in Pictou, with its period homes, Scottish history, and relaxed seaside lifestyle. Make landfall on the Magdalen Islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, a stunning archipelago home to a classic coastal culture. And get to know the French-influenced cultural capitals of Montréal and Québec.
With 18 included features and Cultural Discoveries, you’ll savor the northern Atlantic’s most illustrious bounty — lobster! — in Prince Edward Island and meet a lobster fisherman in Peggy’s Cove, visit a local smokehouse in the Magdalen Islands, and more, all while gaining insights from talks by a Resident Lecturer and onboard performances.
The luxurious amenities of the Ocean Explorer will bring unrivaled comfort to your journey. Indulge in a spa treatment. Watch the beauty unfold from the Observation Lounge or from the sun deck. All while enjoying the finest meals at sea and relying on our onboard Concierge to give your unforgettable voyage a more personal touch. Traveling solo? Enjoy one of the landmark 15 cabins designed for solo travelers. Plus, while tendering will be required in some locations, the small size of our ship will allow for berthing in most port cities — meaning you’ll be able to walk right off the ship when we dock and spend more time in each destination!
Depart home for Boston, Massachusetts
Fly to Boston, New England’s sophisticated center of culture. Or depart earlier for a fascinating pre-trip extension in Boston, featuring the rich fishing traditions and history of Cape Ann. Upon arrival, check into your hotel at the heart of the Back Bay neighborhood and enjoy the city at your leisure, perhaps browsing the many shops along Newbury Street. Tonight, meet your fellow travelers at a Welcome Dinner.
Uncover layers of history in Boston
Birthplace of its nation, Boston is steeped in American history. You’ll head out to see its major sites — Back Bay with the lovely Trinity Church and the Boston Public Library; the Public Garden and Boston Common; and the historic brick-lined lanes of Beacon Hill. After time to browse the Italian North End and its renowned Old North Church from where Paul Revere hung the tell-tale lanterns, cross Charles River to Cambridge for a stroll through Harvard Yard. Your afternoon is free to explore on your own.
Visit historic Lexington and Concord and embark the Ocean Explorer
Follow the trail of the nation’s first patriots during a morning tour to Lexington and Concord and learn how these former farming communities played a pivotal role in the early days of the American Revolution. Visit Lexington Green, where Paul Revere made his midnight ride to warn the minutemen that the British were coming and where the “shot heard ‘round the world” was fired. Stop at the Old North Bridge, and then get a glimpse of the region’s literary past when you view the outside of the homes of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
This afternoon, you'll embark the Ocean Explorer and your small ship ocean cruise will official begin! Settle in and start to discover the breadth of amenities onboard — including the gym, the spa, the hot-rock cooking restaurant, the full service hair salon — and so much more! Visit the worldwide Concierge desk to secure onshore excursions, plan a group dinner, or for whatever else you may need assistance with. And that’s not all — the size of our ship will allow us to berth in most port cities, giving you unparalleled access to your destinations (please keep in mind that tendering will be required in some ports). As you cruise out of Boston Harbor, you’ll pass the Harbor Islands, preserved nature retreats where many city dwellers go to unplug. In the dining room, savor a special Captain’s Welcome Dinner.
Behold the breathtaking beauty of Acadia National Park
Call on Bar Harbor this morning, situated on Maine’s Mount Desert Island. Long a seaside haven for the elite — from the Astor’s to Martha Stewart — the town is more widely known as the gateway to the stunning Acadia National Park. Upon arrival, we’ll tender from our ship into the harbor with the use of either local tenders or Zodiac crafts. After a drive past Bar Harbor’s Victorian mansions, you’ll follow Acadia’s 27-mile park loop, one of the most scenic routes in the eastern United States. Spectacular coastal, mountain, and forest views appear at every turn. As you pass stunning sights like Sand Beach, Otter Cliffs, and the High Seas Estate mansion, built in 1912, keep watch for some of the park’s 50 species of mammals, including moose and white-tailed deer. Pause to admire Jordan Pond and the pair of distant rocky summits known as “The Bubbles.” This land was donated to the parks system by John D. Rockefeller and is still graced by romantic stone-cut bridges and lovely carriage trails built by his family. If weather permits, you’ll marvel at sweeping views from atop Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the Eastern Seaboard.
Explore the preserved British colony of Lunenburg
A historic gem of Nova Scotia, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lunenburg’s historic district boasts the layout and appearance of its original British colonial settlement. Today’s excursion begins by tendering from the ship into Mahone Bay with the use of either local tenders or Zodiac crafts. This charming waterfront town of shops and galleries is known for the iconic Three Churches whose images reflect in the bay. Then, return to Lunenburg for a walking tour, beginning with a stroll on the campus of Lunenburg Academy. In the Old Town, soak in its unique architectural character; 40 buildings here are on Canada’s Register of Historic Places, including St. John’s Anglican Church, a stunning example of Carpenter Gothic. Then, learn about the history of the cod industry at the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic.
Visit historic Halifax and the iconic Peggy’s Cove
Our illuminating tour of Halifax begins with a visit to Peggy’s Cove, the beloved fishing village on St. Margaret’s Bay. Admire its pretty lighthouse set upon the rocky coast. Then, enjoy a lobster demonstration with a local fisherman and visit the Fairview Lawn Cemetery, where you’ll hear the compelling tale of how 121 of the RMS Titanic victims were recovered and buried here.
This afternoon, enjoy lunch on board.
Delve into the Scottish past of Pictou, Nova Scotia
This morning, your small ship moors in the tiny village of Pictou, an old industry town founded by Scottish immigrants in the 18th century. A visit to the Nova Scotia Museum of Industry reveals the area’s rich past. Do some hands-on learning at the museum’s interactive exhibits in the rigging shop and carpentry shop. Stop by the Hector Heritage Quay Interpretive Center to view a replica of the Hector ship, which brought 189 Scottish immigrants to Pictou in 1773. After, there’ll be free time to explore on your own; the Hector is just a three-minute walk from our mooring.
You'll be enthralled during an onboard lecture today. Then, get into the rhythm during an evening of local entertainment.
Witness Charlottetown’s rustic charms
Prince Edward Island (PEI), Canada's tiniest and most charming province, is famous for its green fields, red earth, and white-sand beaches. In historic Charlottetown, you’ll follow a trail through the same historic streets the delegates walked when they gathered in 1864 for the conference that led to the Confederation of Canada. Then, drive along the North Shore to the lovely coastal village of North Rustico. Continue to Prince Edward Island National Park, home to Cavendish Bay and the farmstead that inspired L. M. Montgomery’s beloved Anne of Green Gables. In Rustico Harbor, learn about the PEI fishery and savor a bountiful lobster lunch. Stimulate your mind and your curiosity during an onboard lecture this afternoon.
Discover culture and heritage in the Magdalen Islands
Arrive this morning in the Magdalen Islands, les Îles de la Madeleine, a pristine archipelago of red cliffs and dunes in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Due to the remoteness of these off-the-beaten-path gems, we will have to tender to the islands from our ship with the use of either local tenders or Zodiac crafts. Learn about their culture and heritage, passing through Havre aux Maisons, Cap aux Meules, and other charming villages to view traditional, brightly colored houses and barns of French, Acadian, and New England influence. Stop by the Fumoir d’Antan, where you witness the enduring tradition of smoking herring. You can even have a sample if you wish. At the Dune du Sud, walk a scenic beach overlooked by dramatic red sandstone cliffs. Conclude your rewarding tour in La Grave, a picturesque fishing and yachting harbor. This haven for artists and craftspeople is dripping with maritime flavor. You’ll stop by the Atelier Côtier, where local sand from the beaches is transformed into remarkable sculptures.
After lunch, take advantage of your shipboard amenities, perhaps relaxing in the hot tub or enjoying a cocktail on deck.
Encounter the coastal beauty of Gaspé and Percé Rock
You’ll arrive in Gaspé around breakfast time, where you have time to explore its charming streets. Venture out on a breathtakingly scenic coastal drive to view the remarkable Rocher Percé, or Percé Rock, part of a UNESCO Global Geopark. This sheer hulk of limestone rock lies just off the shore of its namesake fishing village. One of the most astonishing natural sites in Québec, its massive size (1,421 feet long, 300 feet wide, and up to 289 feet tall) calls to mind a supertanker run aground. You’ll also explore more of the GeoPark and take in a a thrilling multimedia adventure that unites geology, history and new technologies in a unique way before returning to ship. There’ll also be time to explore the former fishing village of Percé, graced with art galleries and shops with regional crafts.
Cruise the St. Lawrence and stop in Baie-Comeau
As we cruise, we’ll make a stop in Baie-Comeau, where our tour will give you an overview of its history, the grand nature of its landscape, and the living experience of lumberjacks! Your tour begins with a photo stop at the magnificent Havre St. Pancrace lookout (a fjord 600 meters high!) before continuing to the Glacier Center and Glacier Garden. Your discoveries continue with a tour of Baie-Comeau’s heritage area, including St. Amelia Church. In this cultural hub, you’ll find souvenir stores, art galleries, fine restaurants, and a microbrewery. Admire the magnificent scenery and Champlain Street where the former Premier of Canada, Brian Mulroney, spent his childhood.
Later, an onboard lecture provides further insight to the whales of the Tadoussac area and marine conservation of the Saint Lawrence.
Uncover Québec City’s French heritage
Often called the most French city outside of France, Québec City is considered a loyal sentry that guards the province’s unique culture. You’ll set out today to discover its Upper and Lower Towns. From the Dufferin Terrace, in the shadow of the palatial Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, enjoy sweeping views of the Saint Lawrence and the surrounding Laurentian Mountains. You’ll also admire the 17th- and 18th-century stone architecture of the Place Royale in the Old Town, home to the oldest Catholic church in North America. See the Plains of Abraham, where the French surrendered to the British in 1759, and gaze upon more impressive vistas from Cap Diamant. Continue via the shop-lined Grande Allée to Montmorency Falls — a roaring and scenic cascade that feeds the Saint Lawrence — for a photo stop. This afternoon is free to return to sites that interest you for further exploration.
Disembark the Ocean Explorer and explore Montréal, a UNESCO-listed City of Design
Bid farewell to your ship this morning in Montréal, then set out to explore this remarkable city situated on an island in the St. Lawrence River. This UNESCO City of Design (one of only a few in the world), is home to more than 50 national historic sites, and it boasts a lively downtown arts and cultural scene. View many of its gems, including historic Old Montréal’s stunning architecture the magnificent neo-Gothic Notre Dame Basilica, one of the crown jewels in Québec's rich religious heritage. Then, a scenic drive takes you from Montréal’s downtown district to the top of Mont Royal for commanding views of the city and the St. Lawrence River. Afterward, visit Parc Jean-Drapeau, an artificial island that hosted Expo 67 World’s Fair and is today home of Montréal’s Grand Prix Formula One racetrack.
You’ll have a special lunch at Montréal’s sugar shack, where the dishes typically feature one of Canada’s biggest exports: maple syrup. After, check into your hotel. The balance of the day is free for you to relax, explore, and dine as you wish.
Explore Montreal as you please
Enjoy the morning and early afternoon at leisure, exploring Montreal’s rich and engaging culture on your own. Perhaps you’ll visit the Museum of Contemporary Arts in the Place des Arts. Browse the shops in the historic Bonsecours Market. Or enjoy a relaxing stroll along the riverfront of Vieux Montreal.
Tonight, enjoy a festive Farewell Dinner at your hotel to celebrate the discoveries you’ve made during your adventure.
Transfer to the Montréal airport for your flight home, or continue on with our optional post-trip extension to Ottawa, Canada’s sophisticated capital.
Please Note: Ocean cruising is not the same experience as river cruising; as such, you may experience fluctuating tides and weather patterns that may involve some rocking of your vessel. Itineraries will include all activities as planned except in extreme cases that can’t be controlled by your shipboard crew. Day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Cruise Director or regional expert.