Viewing Fall Foliage from the Water

Written by  Stillman Rogers

Thousands enjoy the magic of the Northeast’s annual color pageant, driving the scenic byways of Vermont’s Green Mountains and the White Mountains in New Hampshire and Maine. Later in the fall the Berkshires of Massachusetts and the hills and coastlines of Connecticut and Rhode Island are still colorful into late October and early November. But driving is not the only way to enjoy the show. Clients may not think about eliminating the stress of driving and trip planning by relaxing on a foliage cruise. Here are some to suggest.

Several lines cruise the New England coast with large ships at the height of fall foliage. Among them is Carnival (, which for the 2016 season is using the Carnival Sunshine during the months of September and October. All departures are from New York with stops in Saint John, New Brunswick and Halifax, Nova Scotia. Norwegian Cruise Lines ( offers two seven-day cruises from northeastern ports with fares starting well under $1,000. A itinerary from Boston stops in Portland, Maine before visiting the Canadian ports of Halifax, Nova Scotia; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and the Quebec ports of Gaspesie, Sanguenay and Quebec City. A seven-day cruise from New York has New England stops in Portland and Bar Harbor, Maine (the main town of Acadia National Park), Halifax, Nova Scotia and the historic Loyalist city of Saint John, New Brunswick. A fifteen-day New England, Canada and Caribbean cruise also sails from New York. The down side of large-ship cruises, however, is that they generally have more limited shore time and offer less coastal scenery while at sea.
Small-ship cruises, on the other hand, give clients more opportunity to see the foliage as they sail closer to shore, and to experience smaller New England port towns. These ships can also navigate in rivers for even more up-close foliage viewing.
Blount Small Ship Adventures (, formerly known as the American Canadian Caribbean Line, has specialized in intimate small-ship cruises since 1966. The passenger capacity of 83 ensures that the experience is personal and their specially designed vessels with retractable pilot houses, bow ramps and shallow draft allow them to get into places few others can access. They operate extensively in New England and Canadian waters with daily stops from Rhode Island to Nova Scotia. Their Locks, Legends and Canals of the Northeast in October starts in New York City and winds northward on the Hudson River, the fabled Erie Canal and the St Lawrence River to Montreal and Quebec in Canada. Remind clients that Blount has a BYO policy on board.
Another small cruise ship line that provides intimate cruising is American Cruise Lines (www.americancruise, headquartered in Guilford, Connecticut. With passenger lists of fewer than 140, their ships are able to maintain the relaxed intimacy of travel with a group of friends. American has a special 8-day foliage cruise round-trip from New York up the Hudson River with stops at Poughkeepsie, Troy, the Catskills, West Point and Sleepy Hollow.

Sailing with the Wind
The best way to enjoy the fall colors along the Maine coast is aboard the fleet of independently owned and operated sailing ships of the Maine Windjammer Association ( Sailing from the north central coast of Maine, these small ships offer many different itineraries and the rare chance to experience large-craft sailing in some of the world’s finest and most beautiful waters. You can offer your clients quite a variety of vessels to choose among. From the historic three-masted Victory Chimes and the beautiful red-sailed Angelique to the smaller and more intimate ships like the Lewis French and even a converted 1922 racing yacht named Ladona (formerly known as Nathaniel Bowditch) there is a ship to fit every client’s taste.
Advise clients to pack light, as cabins are small and bathrooms shared -- think vacationing in a small cabin. Days are filled with relaxing on the deck, meals of local specialties prepared aboard, lobster feasts on remote beaches, visits to islands and coastal villages, and delightful evenings on deck. Special highlights include participating in a fleet parade or evening entertainment on deck by local musicians. Guests on Windjammer cruises are invited to help the crew haul and lower sails, but passengers are also welcome to watch the activity from a lounge chair. Most Windjammer cruises begin in Camden or neighboring Rockland, where clients may want to spend a night or two before and after their cruise. Historic Inns of Rockland
( offer luxury B&B accommodations in landmark homes within easy walk of the lively little downtown’s restaurants and shops.

When to Go
Planning your clients’ trip to the Northeast for the foliage season can seem to be like a game of roulette, as each year’s conditions differ, affecting color and timing. But there are some general rules that are a good guide to hitting or coming close to peak viewing. Think of the foliage season in the Northeast as a rolling wave. Starting in mid-September, trees start their annual show in a broad arch across Maine, far northern Vermont and New Hampshire and upstate New York. By late September the leaves in that section are close to their maximum show and the arch of change has extended south and to the eastern and coastal parts of New England. Early October brings peak conditions to eastern Maine and northern New Hampshire and by the middle of the month the peak covers the entire region, with the western and far northern regions beginning
to fade.

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