Fall Into Seasonal Cruises

Cruise lines offer travelers more choices for foliage cruises

By: Deanna Ting

The air turns crisp; leaves take on hues of gold, crimson and vermillion. Whether clients want to visit quaint coastal villages or metropolitan meccas, fall foliage cruises can provide an opportunity to experience changing leaves and cooler temperatures.

A seasonally steady product, fall cruises recently have become more popular, reaching an all-time high last year, according to officials. And cruise lines are gearing up for what should be another banner season.

“There’s nothing quite like a cruise to Canada or New England,” said Terry L. Dale, president and CEO of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

“The popularity of close-to-home vacationing coupled with the ... expanded roster of Northeastern departure ports make fall foliage cruises an attractive choice for many travelers.”

Along with more ports of call and package options, cruise lines are getting more creative with their fall itineraries and shore excursions, which range from the traditional to the more eccentric.

Crystal Cruises, for example, offers five fall itineraries aboard the Crystal Symphony, which include a Broadway performance and private lunch with the cast of “Wicked” in New York City. In Boston, Crystal passengers choose between tickets to see “Blue Man Group” or “Shear Madness” as an optional evening shore excursion.

Aboard Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas, clients enjoy a traditional New England lobster bake and a visit to Maine’s Acadia National Park.

Cunard’s Splendors of the Fall cruise departs Sept. 26 from New York for a 12-day adventure that includes a complimentary beer tasting. Later, a roving pub crawl through Halifax in Nova Scotia, comes complete with traveling musicians to serenade clients along the way.

History buffs can get dressed up and experience the life a 19th-century Redcoat soldier as part of Holland America’s shore excursions, while nature lovers will get a thrill when they spot beluga whales swimming in Quebec’s scenic St. Lawrence River.

Fans of the macabre might prefer Norwegian Cruise Line’s walking tour of haunted Halifax, or a ghost tour of Quebec with Radisson Seven Seas Cruises.

Seasonal packages are also available. Celebrity Cruises has a Sea & Stay package with one- or two-night hotel options in Baltimore. Selected Radisson Seven Seas Navigator departures, between New York and Montreal, include free economy-class airfare and a complimentary two-night hotel stay in New York with tickets to a Broadway show or $750 off cruise fare.

While fall itineraries typically include stops in Quebec, Montreal and Nova Scotia, as well as New York City and Boston, this year, more ports of call are also available with departure points out of Phila- delphia, Baltimore, Charl- eston, S.C., and Norfolk, Va.

This year, the options for fall travel are almost as numerous as the falling leaves themselves.