For much of the year, sunlight touches the United States first at Cadillac Mountain on the Maine Coast. From the granite-slabbed summit, light tiptoes down across the rest of Mount Desert Isle, Acadia National Park, the town of Bar Harbor and then the rest of the country. The raw coastal scenery attracted Hudson River School painters in the 1840s, and their art in turn lured visitors to the area. Lots of them. Before you know it, Bar Harbor was a haven for the East Coast glittering class and bejeweled with grand mansions and immaculate gardens. Cruise visitors can walk the streets of town, relax on the Village Green, or climb Cadillac Mountain. You'll see that the grandeur abides.
Canada's smallest province is an island that seems to be tethered to New Brunswick by the 8-mile-long Confederation Bridge lest it drift into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Leave the mainland, cross the bridge, and make a right for Charlottetown. The largest city on Prince Edward Island as well as its capital, Charlottetown's Victorian architecture, abundance of parks, and harborside location make it an idyllic stop for cruise visitors. Walk the cobblestones of Victoria Row, see the house that inspired "Anne of Green Gables," or explore the wild shore of Prince Edward Island National Park.
It's big enough to be the economic and cultural capital of eastern Canada, but small enough to be easygoing and hospitable. Halifax residents have it good, the city is located on one of the planet's great natural harbors and adorned with landmarks like the Citadel fortress, Pier 21 (Canada's Ellis Island), and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. Outside the city, cruise visitors can discover the weatherbeaten landscape of Nova Scotia's south shore. See craggy coastlines, the bouldered topography of Peggy's Cove, and the German village of Lunenburg, so meticulously restored it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The cultural capital of Canada, Montreal always seems to show up on "most livable city" lists and has been named a UNESCO City of Design. Cruise travelers can why along the historical streets of Old Montreal, Parc Jean-Drapeau (along the St. Lawrence River), and the cubist residential welter of Habitat 67. French is the first language of most residents, but the shopping and dining are international.
The singular image of the city is a hotel surrounded by cannons. Built to evoke a mountain castle, Chateau Frontenac sits atop a cape above the St. Lawrence River. The hotel is part of the city's Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and with all the stone buildings and winding streets, you'll think you're in Europe. From there, cruise visitors can take the funicular or the "neck-breaking steps" down to the Lower Town. Many structures there date back to Quebec City's beginnings, and highlights include Notre Dame des Victoires, the Petit Champlain district, the port, and the MusÃ©e de la Civilisation.
A hundred thousand Gaelic welcomes await you in Nova Scotia, Latin for "New Scotland." At the northeast end of the province sits Cape Breton Island, whose wild and lovely topography includes Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Bras d'Or Lake, and miles of rugged coastline. Sydney is the gateway to it all. There are highland villages for cruise visitors to see, the scenic Cabot Trail to explore, golden inland seas to sail, and the Fortress of Louisbourg to inspect - where every barn, barracks and pipe and drum corps appears just as it did when King Louis' troops occupied the site in 1744.
May - Oct