French-speaking, thoroughly romantic and exquisitely cultured, Montreal definitely warrants a pre- or post-cruise stay. The Old Port is a hub of entertainment, while the Museum of Fine Arts is revered for its collection of more than 30,000 objects. For a respite from the vibrant city, stroll the Montreal Botanical Garden, a draw since 1931.
2Quebec City, QC
Surrounded by several miles of granite walls dating back hundreds of years, Quebec City’s fabulous Old Town exudes European character, exemplified in the iconic Château Frontenac. Another architectural gem is the fascinating Musée de la Civilisation, a treasure trove of items recreating the French-speaking city’s early days.
Head to La Baie and tour the Musée du Fjord, admire the frescoes covering every nook and corner of barber and painter Arthur Villeneuve’s home, tour a goat farm or travel the Craftsman Road to see artisans in their element creating cheeses, glass-blowing and soap-making. Don’t miss a hike through Saguenay National Park, which cradles the dramatic fjord that has enchanted travelers for centuries.
Quaint Baie-Comeau is one of the mellower destinations you’ll visit on your cruise, offering a chance to experience small-town life on the north shore of Canada’s St. Lawrence River. Founded around a mill that supplied paper to the Chicago Tribune in the 1930s, the town maintains an unpretentious, working-class feel that invites you to slow down and savor the little things that make life sweet, like a pretty park or a magnificent view. You’ll have easy access to natural beauty, as the entire region is part of UNESCO’s Manicouagan-Uapishka Biosphere Reserve, and Le Boisé de la Pointe-Saint-Gilles nature reserve is in the heart of town.
Once a quaint fishing village, Sept-Îles rose to prominence during the World War II boom, becoming one of Canada’s premier ports. Graced with majestic scenery, beautiful beaches and an attractive archipelago just offshore, Sept-Îles provides plentiful opportunities for adventure and relaxation. Discover the islands by boat or spend the day on the largest, Île Grande Basque, which is full of picturesque hiking trails and seaside picnic spots. In the city, don’t miss the superb museums, including Musée Shaputuan and Musée Régional de la Côte Nord.
6Havre Saint Pierre, Canada
Situated on the north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Havre-Saint-Pierre is a charming town embraced by the spectacular scenery of the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve. With a geological history dating back 500 million years, the archipelago is a captivating array of more than a thousand limestone islands, islets and reefs. Granite monoliths, soaring cliffs, graceful arches and secluded grottoes adorn the islands, along with an amazing diversity of plant and animal life. Marvel at the unique seascape during a coastal drive along Route 138, or take a boating excursion to visit several of the islands.
7Corner Brook, NL
Start by taking in the breathtaking view from the monument honoring Captain James Cook, the first to map the area in 1767. More history awaits you in the Corner Brook Museum and its marine artifacts, forestry exhibits and collections from aboriginal people.
Historic Sydney boasts several landmarks from the late 1700s, such as the colonial Cossit House and the Jost House, which features an unusual beehive bake-oven. St. Patrick's, the city's oldest Catholic church, doubles as a fascinating museum.
Founded by the British in 1749, Halifax still has a British military air about it. Every day at noon, a ceremonial gun is fired at the Halifax Citadel, a star-shaped fortress where the guides wear military uniforms. The exhibits have a more seafaring slant at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and include the nearly 100-year-old Acadia.
10Saint John / Bay of Fundy
Explore Canada's oldest continuing museum, the New Brunswick, where displays include the skeletal remains of a rare North Atlantic right whale. Saint John is also known for the bizarre Reversing Falls, a daily tidal phenomenon so severe it reverses the flow of the Saint John River. Birders will enjoy serene Irving Nature Park.
Boston's enormous role during the American Revolution is inescapable, and it's easy to trace by following the Freedom Trail, which links more than a dozen historic sights throughout town from the Paul Revere House to the Old North Church. But don't forgo exploring Boston's appealing modern side. For a 360-degree view of the city, head for the skywalk observatory on the 50th floor of the Prudential Tower. For art, browse the Museum of Fine Arts, which includes works from Van Gogh to Egyptian sculpture. If your interests lie in the natural world, wander through the remarkable New England Aquarium or Franklin Zoo.
Spend some extra time in Boston, or head home with a lifetime of memories.