With its beautiful scenery and so much to do, Halifax has become a very popular cruise port and is currently included on every New England/Canada itinerary and most Northern Transatlantic crossings as well. In fact, the city gets over 250,000 cruise visitors every year.
This port of call is a stop for all the large cruise lines including Holland America, Princess, Norwegian, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Oceania, Silversea, Crystal Cruises, Cunard and P&O.
Founded in 1749, Halifax is the capital of Nova Scotia, one of the Atlantic Provinces in Canada, and has grown into a very modern city. With just under 400,000 residents, it has the largest population for a Canadian metropolitan area east of Quebec City.
One of the most popular shore excursions is a scenic drive down the coast to Peggy’s Cove, a lovely little village that sits on St. Margaret’s Bay and dates back to 1811. With its famous lighthouse and rocky shoreline you’ll have plenty to take pictures of here. You can also taste some of the town’s famous gingerbread or just take a leisurely stroll around the town.
Farther down the coast, Lunenburg, another quaint and picturesque little town, is also a popular excursion. When we took this tour, the bus dropped us off and our tour guide took the group around to some of the sites, giving us the history of each place before turning us loose on the town for some free time. Lunenburg has many shops and restaurants to fill your time and, of course, your camera will be working overtime here. On the way back we stopped at yet another scenic little place called Mahone Bay, which also has some shops, restaurants and picture-worthy places for you to check out.
If you’re interested in spending your time in Halifax itself, there are many things to fill your time. The Hop On/Hop Off narrated trolley tour will take you around town to see the sites allowing you to get on and off as much as you like for the day. This will save you a lot of walking and allow you to hear some of the history of the area as you relax between trolley stops.
The Public Gardens is a 16-acre park with statues, landscaping, fountains, stone bridges, and ponds. Stroll around or just pull up a seat and relax. Another park worth mentioning is Point Pleasant Park, a nice 190-acre municipal park at the south end of the city.
The Citadel Fortress is not to be missed. Sitting high up on a hill in the center of Halifax, this fort has costumed actors that portray what life was like here in the 19th century, and the position of the fort offers excellent views of the city and harbor down below.
Probably the most unique tour you can take in Halifax, though, is related to the Titanic disaster. Several of the cruise lines have an excursion dedicated just to the Titanic-related sites of Halifax. Because many of the recovered bodies were taken here first, the Fairview Lawn Cemetery contains 121 gravesites of the Titanic victims including one for the “Unknown Child”. The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic has a large collection of items recovered from the Titanic including the only surviving deck chair.
We’ve been to Halifax twice on cruise ships, both times in September, and we enjoyed beautiful sunny weather with highs in the low 70’s. September and October seem to be a very popular time to go because it’s also the time when the leaves are changing, but there are also cruises that stop here starting in May, continuing throughout the summer, and into the fall.