Cruise Ideas From Boston to Montreal for Families

noblige/iStock/GettyImages

Pick Your Trip Up the Eastern Seaboard

A cruise can make for the perfect family getaway. It's a pre-packaged vacation with gourmet food, unique shows and fun kids' activities built into destination travel. Cruising up the United States' Eastern Seaboard could give you and your family the opportunity to glimpse new places in new ways, especially in the fall, when New England's foliage hits peak beauty and saturates the East Coast in countless shades of orange and red.

Popular cruise itineraries up the East Coast travel between Boston, Mass. and Montreal, Canada. Boston offers a long, rich New England history with a wealth of museums and shopping and dining spots. Montreal, the world's second-largest French-speaking city next to Paris, features European culture right in North America, accompanied by a creative urban feel.

There are several factors to consider when choosing an Eastern Seaboard cruise, including cruise line, port stops and vacation length. If you think your family would enjoy East Coast cruising, here are a few options:

1. Holland America's Seven-day Trip

As far as cruise lines go, Holland America offers the most diversity among its Boston-to-Montreal itineraries. Its shortest trip follows a one-week itinerary:

  • Day 0: Departs from Boston, Mass.
  • Day 1: Stops in Bar Harbor, Maine
  • Day 2: Stops in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Day 3: Stops in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Day 4: Stops in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada
  • Day 5: Cruises the Gulf of St. Lawrence
  • Day 6: Stops in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
  • Day 7: Arrives in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Prices start at $859 per person, plus approximately $205 in taxes, fees and port expenses. This cruise takes place on the line's ms Veendam and ms Maasdam ships, each of which offers cooking workshops, a fitness center and spa and Club HAL, which provides supervised activities for children ages 3 to 17. Ms Veendam features an art and antique collection alongside spacious decks, dining rooms and staterooms, while ms Maasdam offers similar amenities except its centerpiece is a glass sculpture placed in a three-story atrium.

2. Holland America's 14-day Trip

If you and the family have two weeks to spare, consider Holland America's round-trip Eastern Seaboard cruise option. This cruise starts and ends in Boston, Mass., and makes the following stops:

  • Day 0: Departs from Boston, Mass.
  • Day 1: Stops at Bar Harbor, Maine
  • Day 2: Stops at Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Day 3: Stops at Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Day 4: Stops in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada
  • Day 5: Cruises the Gulf of St. Lawrence
  • Day 6: Stops in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
  • Day 7: Stops at Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Day 8: Stops at Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
  • Day 9: Cruises the Gulf of St. Lawrence
  • Day 10: Stops at Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada
  • Day 11: Stops at Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Day 12: Stops at Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Day 13: Stops at Bar Harbor, Maine
  • Day 14: Arrives in Boston, Mass.

Although this trip is twice as long as its mini version, you see the same number of stops—but you get a second chance to enjoy them. Prices for the 14-day itinerary start at $1479 per person, plus about $415 in taxes, fees and port expenses. The cruise takes place on board ms Maasdam.

3. Carnival's Eight-day Trip

This is a New York City-to-Halifax cruise, rather than a Boston-to-Montreal trip, but if you're looking for family-friendliness, this might be the trip for you. Carnival's Canada and New England trip departs from New York City, travels up to Halifax and loops back around to New York. The exact itinerary is as follows:

  • Day 1: Departs from New York City
  • Day 2: At sea
  • Day 3: Stops at Boston, Mass.
  • Day 4: Stops at Portland, Maine
  • Day 5: Stops at Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada
  • Day 6: Stops at Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Day 7: At sea
  • Day 8: Arrives in New York City

Carnival's option is also much more affordable than other Eastern Seaboard cruises, with interior cabins starting at $499 plus an additional $208 in taxes, fees and port expenses. The ship, Carnival Sunshine, is ranked a four on Cruise Critic's five-point scale for family and children, so you can expect the whole family to have a good time on this one.

4. Seabourn's 10-day Trip

Seabourn Cruise Line offers 10-day cruises traveling in either direction between Boston and Montreal, and the itinerary is a happy medium between Holland America's offerings. Seabourn makes many of the same stops as Holland America, with a couple extra sights:

  • Day 0: Departs from Boston, Mass.
  • Day 1: Stops at Bar Harbor, Maine
  • Day 2: Stops at Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Day 3: At sea
  • Day 4: Stops at Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada
  • Day 5: Stops at Gaspe, Quebec, Canada
  • Day 6: Stops at Baie Comeau, Quebec, Canada
  • Day 7: Stops at Saguenay, Quebec, Canada
  • Day 8: Cruises Saguenay Fjord, stops at Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
  • Day 9: Departs from Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
  • Day 10: Arrives at Montreal, Quebec, Canada

This one's significantly pricier than Holland America, with suite fares starting at $4499 per person, plus an additional $450 in taxes, fees and port expenses. This excursion takes place on the Seabourn Quest ship, which, while luxurious, doesn't offer many kid-friendly amenities—Cruise Critic rated it two on a one-to-five scale for families and children. For example, Sojourn Quest doesn't usually provide children's entertainment except during peak sailing seasons. At these times of year (usually in summer), the ship hires a youth-oriented staff. Otherwise, kids on board wouldn't have much to do.

5. Viking Ocean Cruises' 13-day Trip

This excursion actually starts in New York City, but its second stop is in Boston, Mass. and the cruise ends up in Montreal. It covers many of the same stops as Holland America and Seabourn, but with longer layovers and more cruising time toward the beginning of the trip.

  • Day 1: New York City
  • Day 2: Departs from New York City
  • Day 3: Arrives at Boston, Mass.
  • Day 4: Departs from Boston, Mass.
  • Day 5: Cruises the Eastern Seaboard
  • Day 6: Stops at Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Day 7: Cruises the Gulf of St. Lawrence
  • Day 8: Stops at Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada
  • Day 9: Cruises the St. Lawrence River
  • Day 10: Stops in Saguenay, Quebec, Canada
  • Day 11: Stops in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
  • Day 12: Arrives at Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Day 13: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

The Viking Eastern Seaboard excursion starts at $5000 per person, with prices including airfare from more than 150 U.S. cities as well as taxes, fees and port expenses. You'll get a complimentary shore excursion at each port, and the ship features multiple dining options, a spa and fitness center and a "culture curriculum" (including guest lecturers, TED Talks and classical music).

Unfortunately, this ship, the Viking Sky, permits children only 16 years and older, so the excursion best fits families with older kids or couples looking for a getaway.