Sooner or later everyone has to visit the world’s largest English and French speaking country. But Canada is not just big and bilingual. It’s also big and bicoastal – well ignoring the bit at the top.
With its fascinating east and west coasts Canada is certainly an enticing proposition for cruisers. Yes, there’s a lot more to this country than coastlines, but there’s nothing to stop you extending your holiday to explore the interior as well.
If you choose to cruise along the west coast of Canada, you generally get Alaska thrown into the deal, not to mention other western ports in the United States. A combination like that definitely makes for a tempting and well-rounded package.
On the other hand, if you plump for the Canadian east coast, you’ll almost certainly have a chance to visit Nova Scotia and perhaps New Brunswick and Quebec as well, while popping into a few cities on the eastern seaboard of the USA. All of which adds up to a great range of possible holidays.
This is a truly massive country – the world’s second largest – stretching across six time zones: Newfoundland, Atlantic, Eastern, Central, Mountain and Pacific. So when you’re done cruising, there are still plenty of reasons to stick around and explore further.
To lure you in Canada offers a fantastic range of historic and cultural attractions. But you’ll probably also want to acquaint yourself with one or two of its best known natural features.
Take your pick from the Rockies, the Prairies and Niagara Falls, without forgetting the Cabot Trail in the highlands of Nova Scotia or the Pacific Rim National Park on Vancouver Island.
But if you only have limited time and you’ve not been before, a cruise could be the perfect solution, providing a quick and enjoyable initiation. Whichever coast you select, you’ll find plenty of good options on offer.
West coast cruises tend to run mostly from May to September, while on the east there are currently packages available sailing in August, September and October.
Here are two that caught my eye – one from each side of the country.
West is blessed
Where the mountains meet the sea, you’ll find Vancouver – a city blessed with clean streets and charming people. It’s also the place from where this 9 night Celebrity Millennium cruise departs on 13 September 2012. From there you’ll go to Victoria, a small city at the south end of Vancouver Island.
When I sailed there in 1995 the locals assured me that as a Brit I’d pinch myself because it was so like the UK. Maybe it’s just me, but to be honest, it seemed so like . . . well Canada.
After Victoria you’ll head onto Nanaimo another city on the island.
Then you’ll say farewell to Canada and start heading towards the USA. Your first steps on American soil will be taken in Seattle, after which there will be three stops in California: San Francisco (two days), Monterey and San Diego.
The entire cruise can be yours for a starting price of just £2,002 per person.
East’s a feast
There’ll be lots for you and your family to feast your eyes on if you opt for this 10 night East Canada cruise on Brilliance of the Seas. In just over a week and a half you’ll see some of the great sights this coast has to offer, not just in Canada but in the United States as well.
It all kicks off on 21 September 2012 in Cape Liberty, New Jersey. Next up you’ll be served two slices of Maine, in the shape of Portland and then Bar Harbor, after which you’ll enter Canadian waters.
Your itinerary includes no fewer than five more ports of call in Canada – including Halifax and Sydney in Nova Scotia – before you reach your final destination of Quebec.
Prices per person start from £1,650.
Warm and friendly
Each time I’ve visited Canada I’ve found the locals to be warm and friendly. In some ways the country reminds me of the US, though the Canadian lifestyle seems slightly toned down in comparison.
As a Brit, what I like about Canada is that it’s different enough from the UK to be interesting and stimulating, but not so different as to be disorienting. Not being a great linguist, I love the fact that the locals speak good English and even follow some of our spelling conventions.
Of course no blog on Canada would be complete without a bit of gratuitous and wholly inaccurate stereotyping. So here it comes.
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