North American Cruises for 2020: The Ultimate Guide

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Old-world Antebellum cities, glistening techy metropolises and blinding white glaciers, here are the best places to cruise to in North America

As Brits we have a fascination with North America, the continent of grizzly bears, poutine, Google and Hollywood. Taking a cruise is one of the best ways to explore this great continent, cruising around its expansive coastline where multiple time zones and climates can be just in one country. As part of our annual best destinations guide, Isabella Sullivan and Lesley Bellow rounded up the best North America Cruises for 2020, from colourful Antebellum Charleston and historic Old Québec to the blinding white Inside Passage and Hubbard Glacier.


North America cruises: Niagara falls
Visitors can get close to the thundering torrent of Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls, Canada

Thousands watch the thundering Niagara Falls every day, mesmerised by the water, mist and noise – one of nature’s greatest sights. To make the most of your time here take a helicopter flight over the Falls or boat ride behind them. The botanical gardens and butterfly conservatory make a pleasant diversion or, 8km north of the falls, is Niagara Glen Nature Reserve with walking trails winding down into a gorge, past caves and woodland. The Niagara Parks Commission offers guided walks during the summer. Many cruise lines offer Cruise and Stay options in Toronto for visits to Niagara.

Get on Board

  • 14-night Niagara, New York, Bahamas cruise on Norwegian Bliss departing 15 December 2019 from Toronto to New York cruise and stay from £1,879pp.
  • 12-night Niagara Falls, Canada and New England cruise and stay on Sky Princess, departing 29 September 2020, from £1,979 cruise only.

North American cruises: Quebec city, Canada cruise
Québec is filled with old-world charm, home to the fairytale-like Château Frontenac hotel

Old Québec, Canada

Sitting on the banks of the great St Lawrence River, Québec City is an endearing contrast to the clean-cut cities of Vancouver and Toronto, being predominantly French-speaking and filled with old-world colonial charm. At the core is the UNESCO-listed district of Old Quebec, also known as Vieux-Québec, home to some of the city’s most exquisite sights such as the fairytale-like Fairmont Le Château Frontenac hotel and Church of Notre-Dame-des-Victoires. The best way to take in its winding cobbled streets is by foot, stopping off to admire the 17th-century architecture and ducking into chocolate box shops on the enchanting Petit Champlain.

Get on Board

  • 7-day Canada & New England cruise on Norwegian Gem from Quebec City to Boston via Charlottetown, Cape Breton Island and Halifax, departing on 11 September 2020, from £829 cruise only,
  • 24-night USA and Canada cruise on Aurora round-trip from Southampton via Quebec City, Halifax and Corner Brook, departing on 18 September 2020, from £2,399 cruise only,

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

You’ll instantly fall in love with the shimmering ocean-side city of Vancouver. Surrounded by rugged mountains, the city is steeped in natural beauty and is quickly becoming known for its quirky music and arts scene – stop off at JapaDog to see what we mean. Don’t miss the Vancouver Art Gallery for the works of local artist Emily Carr and the Granville Island peninsula with its bohemian atmosphere, brewery and buzzing public market. We love the food here too with Blue Water Café and The Salt Tasting room restaurants well worth a visit.

Get on Board

  • 10-nights Alaska cruise on Queen Elizabeth round-trip from Vancouver via Juneau, Sitka and Victoria, departing on 29 August 2020, from £1,599 cruise only.
  • 9-day Highlights of the Pacific cruise on MS Roald Amundsen from San Diego to Vancouver via Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, departing on 10 May 2020, from £2,991.


North American cruises
Hubbard Glacier is the largest tidewater glacier in North America

Hubbard Glacier, Alaska
At an incredible 76 miles long and plunging 1,200 feet into the bay, Hubbard Glacier is the largest tidewater glacier in North America and, with snowcapped mountains as a backdrop, its natural beauty and blue hues make an unforgettable destination. The area around Hubbard Glacier is renowned for its wildlife, where whales, harbour seals and otters swim. Brown bears, moose and black-tailed deer roam ashore, and a variety of seabirds soar gracefully across the sky. In Alaska, don’t hold back on your budget – take helicopter rides, glacier tours and wildlife excursions to make the most of this holiday into the wilderness.

Get on Board

  • 7-night Alaskan Inside Passage cruise on MS Volendam, Vancouver roundtrip via Skagway, Alaska, departing 1 July 2020, from £1,099 cruise only,
  • 12-day Inside Passage cruise on Pacific Princess, roundtrip from Vancouver, departing 15 May 2020, from £1,474 cruise only,

Boston, New England

Follow the red brick road to explore centuries of history. The Freedom Trail, a network of red paving and painted lines, connects important sites in Boston, including the Massachusetts State House, the Benjamin Franklin Statue, the Old Corner Bookstore, Paul Revere House, Bunker Hill Monument and USS Constitution. Delight in Americana over the cobblestones of charming Beacon Hill, take the Black Heritage Trail, absorb the grandeur of Harvard University or the excitement of Fenway Park, home to baseball champions the Red Sox. With huge malls and superb restaurants including Celeste, you can have your own tea party – or say Cheers to a beer in TV’s iconic bar.

Get on Board

  • 7-night Canada and New England cruise, on Norwegian Gem from Boston to Quebec City, departing 2 October 2020, from £856 cruise only.
  • 14-night Westbound Transatlantic, New England and Canada on Queen Mary 2, from Southampton to Quebec City, departing 2 October, 2020 from £2,049 cruise only.
North America cruises: sunset in Los Angeles, US cruise
Visiting the City of Angels? The Hollywood Walk of Fame, Universal Studios and Santa Monica pier are all on the agenda

Los Angeles, CA, USA

The City of Angels awaits! Check out the beaches of Malibu, shop in Beverly Hills and take the Walk of Fame. Universal Studios offers the authenticity of a working movie studio, bringing the magic of Hollywood to life. On iconic Santa Monica pier, find an amusement park, a trapeze school, an ocean-front walk, an aquarium, a historic carousel, shops, eateries and an arcade above the sparkling water.

If you get time, take a trip out to the hip district of Silverlake where you’ll find some of the city’s coolest eateries. This is smoothie central…

Get on Board

  • 7-night Mexican Riviera cruise on Carnival Panorama, Los Angeles roundtrip, via Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, departing 26 September 2020, from £559 cruise only.
  • 8-night Grapes, Gardens & Galas cruise on Oceania Regatta, Los Angeles roundtrip via Ensendada, Mexico, departing 22 September 2020, from £2,089 cruise only.

Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Its bouncing namesake dance and James P Johnson’s accompanying jazz riff have long set the tone for this Southern Belle of a city – lively, energetic and incredibly memorable. At first glance, Charleston appears to be frozen in the 18th-century, with horse-drawn carriages and colourful cobbled streets sitting alongside eerie cemeteries and civil-war sights, but at the second you’ll see a trendy, homegrown shopping and dining scene. For true southern hospitality head to historic King Street and try out the freshest raw seafood food at The Darling Oyster Bar but to understand the city’s antebellum history, don’t miss a poignant visit to the Old Slave Mart museum – where slaves were sold at auction.

Get on Board

  • 14-day The Atlantic Coast cruise on MS Zaandam from Montreal to Fort Lauderdale via Quebec City, Boston and Charleston, departing on 17 October 2020, from £1,799 cruise only,
  • 16-day Caribbean Sea cruise on MS Roald Amundsen from New York to San Jose via Charleston, Key West and Puerto Limon, departing on 10 May 2020, from £3,890,
North America cruises: Miami
Most cruises will either start or end in the heady city of Miami

Miami, Florida, USA

If cities swayed to a beat, Miami’s would be a sensual Latin salsa. While the sun-drenched city is best known for its iconic sands – think South and Miami Beach – a buzzing nightlife and vibrant mix of cultures will leave you with plenty to see. An Art Deco tour on Ocean Drive is a great place to begin and if marvelling at pastel-hued 1930s hotels is up your street, the Italian Renaissance-style Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is just a short cab ride away. For some al-fresco shopping and dining, nowhere is more iconic than Miami Beach’s Lincoln Road Mall, where you’ll can sip on mojitos at Cuban-inspired Havana 57.

Get on Board

  • 6-day Eastern Caribbean cruise on Carnival Magic round-trip from Miami via Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk and Amber Cove, departing 3 May 2020, from £344 cruise only,
  • 4-night Fire and Sunset Soirées cruise on Scarlet Lady round-trip from Miami via Key West and the Beach Club at Bimini, departing on 9 September 2020, from £1,420 cruise only,