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Cruise Views

Trees Turning, Ships Churning on a Northeastern Itinerary

June 02, 2002|SHIRLEY SLATER and HARRY BASCH

A decade ago foliage cruises from New York were an autumn staple for such sedate and luxurious lines as Royal Viking and Royal Cruise, both now defunct. But the popularity of these cool-weather sailings has grown, particularly this year, because many Americans want to vacation close to home and cruise lines are responding to the demand by adding more sailings in Canada and New England.

Once known only for Caribbean cruises, Carnival Cruise Line has expanded to many other areas of the world, including Canada and New England. After its summer debut in Europe, Carnival Legend, the line's newest ship, will sail two 11-day cruises, departing New York on Sept. 22 and Oct. 6. The ship will call in Boston; Portland or Bar Harbor, Maine (depending on sailing date); and Quebec City, Sydney and Halifax, Canada. Fares start at $1,299 per person, double occupancy.

The 2,124-passenger, 88,500-ton ship is the third in a series that began with the Carnival Spirit's introduction last year. Lavishly decorated and furnished with every seagoing attraction short of an ice rink and rock-climbing wall, this ship is for passengers who want to be amused and entertained day and evening at sea as well as ashore.

Holland America Line's flagship Rotterdam will offer seven- and 10-day cruises from New York, Boston or Montreal until Oct. 22. Its seven-day sailings will visit Bar Harbor, and Halifax, Sydney, Prince Edward Island and Quebec City, Canada. Some 10-day sailings will stop at St. Pierre and Miquelon, French islands off Newfoundland, Canada, a rare port of call for cruise ships. The Rotterdam is a classic and beautiful ship offering the best of traditional cruising; fares begin at $1,199 per person, double.

Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Dream and Norwegian Sea are scheduled to sail Canada/New England itineraries from Boston, New York and Montreal this summer and fall. Despite the similarity of names, the ships are quite different in size and decor; both are moderately priced when early booking discounts are factored in. The 1,054-passenger Norwegian Sea is a vintage NCL ship built as the Seaward in 1988 and extensively refurbished several times since then, although its cabins are still on the small side. Prices that start at $749 per person, double, for a seven-day cruise between New York and Montreal make it a bargain. Ports of call include Quebec City and Sydney in Canada, Boston and Newport, R.I. Cruises leave Sept. 1 to Oct. 13 and will be followed by a 14-day Colonial America sailing from Montreal to Miami on Oct. 20; fares begin at $1,899 with the early booking discount.

The Norwegian Dream, built as the 1,246-passenger Dreamward in 1992, was "stretched" by being cut in half and having a midsection of cabins added to increase the passenger count to 1,748. The ship's design gives it the look and feel of a smaller vessel despite its size.

With an early booking discount, 10-day round-trip sailings from Boston start at $1,299 per person, double. Sailings are scheduled Sept. 25 and Oct. 5 and 15. Ports of call include Sydney, Corner Brook, Quebec City and Halifax in Canada, and Bar Harbor. Both ships provide the line's "freestyle cruising," which allows passengers to dine whenever and wherever they wish without assigned times or tables.

Princess Cruises also offers a distinctly different pair of ships on its Canada-New England run, the classic beauty Royal Princess and the gigantic new Golden Princess. The 1,200-passenger Royal Princess made its debut in 1984 with what was then a revolutionary concept, all outside cabins, many of them with private verandas. Today this ship is still preferred by older couples and singles who have time for leisurely 10-day cruises and who enjoy the ship's moderate size and traditional amenities.

Early booking prices start at $2,145 per person, double occupancy; sailings are scheduled Sept. 17 and 27 and Oct. 7 between New York and Montreal, visiting Newport, Boston and Bar Harbor, and Quebec City, Halifax and St. John, Canada.

The 2,600-passenger Golden Princess is the sister ship to the Grand Princess and the new Star Princess, with splashy extras such as four pools, three dining rooms, three show lounges, a virtual reality center, a top-deck nightclub, miniature golf course, huge spa and two alternative restaurants. It appeals more to young cruisers and families.

The Golden Princess has seven-day round-trip sailings from New York scheduled to depart on Sept. 14 and Oct. 11, and a five-day sailing on Oct. 19. Ports of call include Halifax, Bar Harbor and Newport. Calls in Boston and St. John are added on the seven-day itinerary. Fares start at $935 for the five-day sailing with early booking discount.

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