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Join the inaugural season of the Ocean Explorer and experience autumn in North America, just as the coastal forests of eastern Canada and New England burst with spectacular reds, yellows, and oranges. It is a splendid show of nature like no other. And you can witness the splendor in luxury during this thrilling cruise aboard Vantage's Deluxe, 5-star Ocean Explorer — a journey rich in natural beauty, to be sure, but also cultural and historic treasures.
You’ll trace the magnificent St. Lawrence River from French-flavored Montréal to old-world Québec City. In the renowned Canadian Maritimes, stop by Prince Edward Island’s Green Gables homestead and Nova Scotia’s iconic Peggy’s Cove. Explore the traditional fishing villages of the Magdalen Islands, where you’ll sample smoked herring at a smokehouse and stop by the studio of an artist who shapes beach sand into things of beauty. Get a taste of the British colony of Lunenburg, preserved in its original state . . . and a taste of the region’s lobster during special meals! And delve into the revolutionary past of Boston, Lexington, and Concord. Along the way, get in-depth cultural insights thanks to an onboard Resident Lecturer, who will lead riveting talks and discussions on your destinations.
The majesty of the natural world is your stage for this magnificent voyage — there’s a new and astonishing surprise at every turn. Enormous whales and cavorting dolphins swimming through the waters of the St. Lawrence River as you cruise. The breathtaking monolithic Percé Rock lying offshore from its namesake diminutive village. Enormous bird colonies on Bonaventure Island. Red sandstone cliffs facing the beaches of Magdalen Islands and the pristine wilderness of Maine’s Acadia National Park.
And always, the luxurious amenities of the Ocean Explorer bring unrivaled comfort to your journey. Relax by the infinity pool. 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.
Canada’s capital, stunning Ottawa, is one of the nation’s most prosperous and educated cities, a showcase of fine architecture, beautiful outdoor spaces, and a cultural hub that boasts seven national museums and a plethora of shops, restaurants, universities, theaters, and so much more. Set at the confluence of the Ottawa, Gatineau, and Rideau rivers, its setting is as gracious as its welcoming, easygoing vibe. The city invites outdoor exploration with its lovely parks and gardens, including the central Rideau Canal, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its unique design and cultural significance. Along the way to Ottawa, you’ll visit the wildlife-rich Parc Omega and enjoy a delicious taste of Canada when you lunch at Fairmont Le Château Montebello for a true Québécois feast.
When settlers arrived on Cape Ann in 1623, they declared its waters the best fishing grounds in the New World. Some things never change. Four hundred years on, the “Other Cape” of Massachusetts (its most famous is Cape Cod) remains steeped in the traditions and charms of its fishing village origins. Prolong your stay in Boston, and you’ll experience them firsthand during visits to Rockport, home to a thriving artists’ community; Gloucester, renowned for its fishing past; and Salem, with its witchy and seafaring past. Depending on your departure, you’ll visit Salem during peak Halloween festivities, so get ready for a day full of breathtaking coastal vistas, spellbinding history, and more opportunities for autumnal leaf-peeping. Plus, an additional day in Boston lets you delve more deeply into its sophisticated culture.
Depart home for Montréal, Québec, Canada
Fly to Montréal, the second largest French-speaking city in the world after Paris. Or depart earlier for a fascinating pre-trip extension to Ottawa, Canada’s sophisticated capital. Tonight, meet your fellow travelers at a Welcome Dinner.
Experience the magic of Montréal
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, and 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. Afterwards, 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 race track. This afternoon, you'll have time to explore this magnificent city on your own.
Explore Montréal as you please and embark the Ocean Explorer
Enjoy the morning and early afternoon at leisure, exploring Montréal’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 Montréal. For lunch, you might sample a decadent plate of Québécois poutine, French fries doused with pork gravy and cheese curds.
This afternoon, you embark the Ocean Explorer. There’ll be time to settle in and perhaps have a drink on deck and give the breathtaking cityscape one final glimpse before your voyage commences. In the dining room, savor a special Captain’s Welcome Dinner.
Uncovering 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 Château Frontenac, enjoy sweeping views of the St. 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 St. Lawrence, for a photo stop.
This afternoon is free to return to sites that interest you for further exploration. This evening, join your fellow travelers for an informative lecture on board.
Cruise the St. Lawrence and stop in Baie-Comeau
Between May and October, a dozen species of cetaceans — whales and dolphins — make their way up the St. Lawrence Seaway, one of the world’s most exciting gathering of whales! Many of them come to feed on krill at Tadoussac, where the cold fresh water of the Saguenay and warmer, salty water of the St. Lawrence converge. As we cruise down the ever-widening river, search for blue whales and humpbacks.
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 a typical lumberjack village known as Village forestier d’Antan. Your discoveries continue with a tour of Baie-Comeau’s heritage area and its beautiful natural setting. Starting with Place La Salle, discover this quaint commercial artery, host to site of historical and social interest for the past 78 years. 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.
The magnificent coastal beauty of Gaspé and Percé Rock
Early this morning, you’ll round the Gaspé Peninsula as the St. Lawrence River opens up to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Arrive in Gaspé around breakfast time, where you have time to explore its charming streets. Venture out on a breathtakingly scenic coastal drive and small boat excursion 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 cruise around Bonaventure Island, where more than 200 bird species reside, including puffins, razorbills, and one of the largest colonies of northern gannets in the world. There’ll also be time to explore the former fishing village of Percé, graced with art galleries and shops with regional crafts.
As you sail on to your next destination after lunch on board, gain more insight during a lecture from one of our onboard experts.
Culture, heritage, and beauty 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. 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 by the infinity pool or enjoying a cocktail on deck. Another onboard lecture today uncovers more of the region’s fascinating history and rich culture.
Rustic charms of Charlottetown, capital of Prince Edward Island province
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 with included beer and wine — a special inaugural cruise feature!
Stimulate your mind and your curiosity during an onboard lecture this afternoon. This evening, enjoy another memorable meal prepared by your chef.
Delve into the 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.
Visit historic Halifax and enjoy lunch in 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.
After time to browse the shops and galleries, savor a lobster roll for lunch with lovely views of the cove. Later, 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. Return to Halifax to tour its picturesque Citadel, a star-shaped fortress constructed in 1856 to defend the city from invading forces. The unique building's current residents are the 87th Highlander Regiment, which regularly performs reenactments inside the square. We’ll also pay a visit to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Outside, admire the fine Italianate façade; inside, peruse a rich collection of regional, national, and international art. You'll have the afternoon free to explore the town’s colorful homes, eclectic waterfront district, and iconic lighthouse, or learn more with another fascinating lecture on board.
Please note: Due to sailing schedule, travelers on the northbound Boston-Montreal departure will not visit the Halifax Citadel.
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 in Mahone Bay, a charming waterfront town of shops and galleries 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.
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 Astors to Martha Stewart — it is more widely known as the gateway to the stunning Acadia National Park. 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 Highseas 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.
Disembark the Ocean Explorer and discover Boston
Birthplace of a nation, Boston is steeped in American history. You’ll bid your ship farewell this morning and head out to see its major sites — Back Bay with its lovely Trinity Church and the Boston Public Library; the Public Gardens 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 the Charles River to Cambridge for a stroll through Harvard Yard. At tour’s end, 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.
Visit historic Lexington and Concord
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 see the homes of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Your afternoon back in Boston is free to make some final discoveries.
Tonight, enjoy a festive Farewell Dinner at your hotel to celebrate your journey.
Transfer to Logan International Airport today for your flight home. Or stay on in Boston to explore more and experience the rich fishing traditions and history of Cape Ann on a fascinating post-trip extension.
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.
Important: 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.