New England – that six-state huddle in America’s northeastern corner – retains all of the rural charm that first greeted the pioneers some 400 years ago. Dense forests carpet reaching peaks and ring shimmering lakes – scenery that’s particularly pretty in autumn’s bright reds and deep browns. It’s a region that wears its rich history with pride, complete with charming colonial towns, crucial American Revolution sites and grand mansions that remember the advent of the Industrial Revolution. It all makes for perfect cruises, with over 5,000 miles of coastline host to everything from white-sand beaches to lighthouse-dotted fishing villages. It’s not just for show either; New England is famous the world over for its fresher-than-fresh seafood. Expect buttery lobsters, just-steamed crabs and world-renowned oysters.
Found at the extreme tip of Cape Cod, New England’s great, beach-lined curve that juts into the Atlantic, Provincetown has long been an idyllic artists’ retreat. And, its superb collection of galleries evidences a certain open-mindedness that has made Provincetown a favourite among the gay and lesbian community. Look beyond its colonial-revival centre – all high gables and picket fences – and you’ll discover vast beaches and wild coastal landscapes that frame some of the world’s finest whale-watching opportunities.
As the smallest of the American states, it takes less than one hour to cross Rhode Island. But, just as it’s firmly attached to the mainland, don’t be fooled by its size as well as its name – it certainly packs a lot in. Get your fill of hidden coves, jagged cliffs and lonely lighthouses before resting up with its golden sands and turning inland for some of New England’s finest rural scenery. Quaint, half-timber villages look out over terraced vineyards and rolling farmlands, while its cities, Providence and Newport, entice with river walks, hipster enclaves and historically colourful architecture.
New England’s largest city is also one of America’s oldest, a claim showcased in everything from harboured tall ships and Romanesque churches to cobblestone streets and that world-famous, 17th-century institution – Harvard. Take it all in on fascinating city walks, including the Freedom Trail which highlights many of the key events and sites of the War of Independence. You also can’t miss out on its seafood delights, all- American sports passions and arts scene that’s thrived since the 1800s.
Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park
Bar Harbor is the pretty gateway to Mt. Desert Island, its weatherboard houses and welcoming pubs a civilised contrast to the wild delights of Acadia National Park. Here, seals, beavers, black bears and even bald eagles animate a stunning range of geography, with whole mountains and lakes split by Somes Sound – a rushing, narrow fjord. As New England’s only national park, it’s a perfect answer to any overindulgence, with the likes of kayaking, horseback riding, hiking and sailing all on offer.
Unlike Rhode Island, Portland has a name you can believe in; this is a typically historic port town, complete with merchants’ houses, an energetic waterfront and miles upon miles of centuries-old redbrick. And, aside from its historic charm, this leafy city is a foodies’ dream. Here, seafood delicacies are washed down with a resurgent obsession for craft brews.
Sydney, Nova Scotia
OK, this certainly isn’t New England – it’s not even in the same country – but Canada’s Sydney is a natural endpoint for cruises up the American east coast. To get here, you’ll enjoy a scenic jaunt along the wild Atlantic coastline, watching as fissured cliffs give way to picturesque bays of white sands. As Nova Scotia’s English capital, Sydney is home to an attractive waterfront, perfect for evening walks that take in the to-ings and fro-ings of its historic harbour. It’s also a gateway to Atlantic Canada, where whales, national-park drives and pretty beaches compete for your attention.
Who to cruise with
Many of the world’s leading cruise lines sail to New England, often tying in the likes of New York and Montréal. Here are our recommendations: Celebrity Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Holland America Line, Oceania Cruises, Ponant, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Seabourn and Silversea.
Scott Anderson is General Manager at The Luxury Cruise Company. The Luxury Cruise Company is your port of call for incredible cruise holidays.