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Travel bucket list idea:

Cruise New England (fall colours)

  • New England, United States of America (USA)

  • Bucket List Experience

Last updated: 06 February, 2024

The scarlets, ochres and golds of turning leaves provide a vivid backdrop to a cruise along the mellow coastlines of New England and Canada.

You’ll spend days exploring historic port towns and heading out into the countryside to gaze at the glorious colours.

From Bal Harbor, there’s hiking and cycling in glorious Acadia National Park, while in Portland, Maine, you could join a kayak tour along the coast to admire the foliage from the water. Bucolic Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island is endlessly photogenic, thanks to its red-and-white lighthouses and rustic architecture.

As well as appealing to nature lovers, these cruises have great foodie allure, thanks to each region’s seasonal culinary scene, from fresh Maine lobster to oysters and clams, mussels from Nova Scotia, apple doughnuts, pumpkin, cider and cheeses. Poking around local farmers’ markets is all part of the charm of these autumn voyages.


Price from: £Varies
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around
Duration: Min 7 days

Getting there & doing it

Most cruises sail round-trip from Boston or New York; over the course of anything from a few days to a couple of weeks, visit ports including Bal Harbor, St John, Halifax, Sydney, Charlottetown and Portland, Maine.

Some voyages include a journey along the St Lawrence River as far as Quebec City or even Montreal. Book a one way, for example, from New York to Quebec City, and you’ll have fewer sea days and more ports. Add on a few days in each and you’ve built two city breaks into your cruise holiday at what’s arguably the loveliest time of year.

When to do it

The fall foliage season is very short, from late September to mid-October and the display you’ll get depends on how much rain has fallen over the summer. Pack for crisp, fresh air and cool nights. Sail earlier to catch the last of the migrating humpback whales.

Who to go with: tour operators


Our writer’s recommended tour operators to book with

Celebrity Cruises [New England]

  • Miami, Florida, United States of America (USA)

A global cruise operator with 14 cruise boats, they offer seasonal voyages from Boston on one of their smaller ships; it’s the perfect vantage point from which to admire the blazing colours of the Eastern Seaboard.

Crystal Cruises [New England]

  • Los Angeles, California, United States of America (USA)

An award-winning and highly rated luxury cruise operator, known for medium and small ships, serving routes around the world. They sail from New York to New Brunswick, calling at some of the most beautiful spots along the East Coast, offering the highest standards of cuisine onboard.

Norwegian Cruise Line [New England]

  • United States of America (USA)

NCL offers a big ship experience, sailing round-trip from New York, with Broadway-standard entertainment and a wide choice of dining venues onboard.