Boston Summer Cruise Season

Boston now hosts a number of cruise ships on regular schedules for the summer season.

First of all - I was bred on the West Coast, mostly Arizona and California. Although I love the scenery out here there is one thing I miss terribly - daily exposure to early American history and culture, like one can only experience on the Eastern Seaboard in cities like Philadelphia and Boston, the first real cities of the new land. There, one can witness American culture coming to life in a way that doesn't even occur to people on the west coast.

One of the best pre-cruise visits I ever had to any city was to Philadelphia back in 2006. I believe every American should visit Philly at least once to see Independence Hall, the fantastic Seaport Museum and the Franklin Institute, an homage to the genius of Benjamin Franklin and his many inventions; both practical and social. Unfortunately, Philly is no longer a cruise market at all, having been usurped by nearby Baltimore for its ability to handle larger vessels (Philly is up the Delaware River, only navigable by smaller vessels).

But not all changes are bad. At that time there were no cruises at all that sailed out of Boston, but this year there is a full five months of summer cruises from this wonderful city and if you are from the West Coast there is nothing I can recommend more highly than flying to Boston and staying at least two full days (the longer the better) exploring the city before you catch a cruise.. You can sail to Bermuda, to the area of Halifax and Nova Scotia, or even up the St. Lawrence Seaway to Montreal and Quebec.

Sure, you could fly to Miami and take a Caribbean cruise, but you already come from the land of palm trees and hot dry air. Why not fly to Boston and catch a New England/Canada cruise in the summer for something completely different? You will not regret this, I guarantee it - especially you experienced cruisers.

A Look at Boston Cruises

Boston's cruise terminal is called the "Black Falcon Terminal." It is located about two miles from the city center which has most of the sites a visitor to the city wants to see - The Back Bay, Fenway Park, Beacon Hill, Cheers, Harvard Square, Paul Revere's house and more. There is a free and easy walking tour called "The Freedom Trail" that takes you along many of the most famous sites in America - wear good walking shoes and plan to spend an entire day, if possible.

Plan to stay in a hotel near the City Center, ideally located close to downtown. When it comes time to go to the cruise ship you will need a taxi, or the hotel may provide a shuttle. Same with the airport, Logan International.

Norwegian Cruise Line

In 2013 Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Dawn launched at the Black Falcon Terminal on May 3 with the first of 22 weekly trips between Boston and Bermuda. Norwegian Dawn sails every seven days, leaving on Fridays. There is one day at sea before arriving at King's Wharf, Bermuda, where you stay docked for three days. There are then two days at sea before you return to Boston.

September 27th Norwegian Dawn switches to the "Fall Folliage" cruises one way to Quebec. The ship sails on Friday and visits Portland, Maine, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and arrives in Gaspe, Quebec, on day five; La Baie Quebec on day six and in the city of Quebec on day seven.

Holland America

Holland America Veendam is already sailing to Quebec every seven days with its first cruise having left on Saturday, May 4. You can go one-way and disembark in Quebec or make it a 14-day roundtrip voyage. On May 25, the sister Holland America ship, Maasdam, makes nine round-trip sailings to Montreal.

Carnival Cruise Line

June 4th Carnival Glory will begin its second consecutive year sailing from Boston with four, five and seven day trips to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The seven-day cruises add a stop in Portland, Maine.

Boston Cruising Highlights

Princess Cruises is another line that has ships making multiple one-day stops in Boston on itineraries leaving from New York City. Another highlight of the cruise season is the annual July 4th arrival of the Cunard Line's Queen Mary 2 there to help celebrate Independence Day in what was at the time the most important city in America.

As I said above, 10 years ago it was rare for any ships to even call in Boston, but the new cruise terminal and a renewed focus on home port cruising by Norwegian Cruise Line, as well as Holland America, has brought new cruise life to the city.

117 ships and more than 380,000 passengers came through the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal in 2012 - a remarkable recovery for the city. The Cruise Lines International Association trade group estimated that the ships calling on the Port of Boston account for more than $450 million in the six-month cruise season. Crew members alone spend an estimated $25 million.

Boston and Massport will host the annual Canada New England Cruise conference that will be held at The Seaport Hotel from May 21 to May 23. Major cruise line executives and port officials will be in town for this event. This year the cruise terminal will offer free wireless internet access for passengers while they are at the terminal.

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