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The Modern Problem Of Picking A Port

With each day, and each violent activity often linked to terrorism, reasonable people who like to travel get even more reasonable. Or concerned. Or paranoid. Or even scared.

Pick an adverb. The uncertainty of traveling abroad — be it in one direction to Europe or in the other to Asia — understandably may leave North Americans more likely to pick a cruise ship departing and returning to a North American port. Not that there are any guarantees that doing so will keep you from being an unsuspecting victim of terrorism.

But even seasoned travelers are at least having second thoughts. Why fly internationally to get on a cruise if you can fly domestically, or better yet drive or take ground transportation to a port of departure?

This is good (okay, more comforting) news for cruise lines with ships that primarily visit the Caribbean, or assorted other warm-weather spots in the Western Hemisphere. Since a Caribbean cruise still out-ranks all others, that would be most of them, yet many have shifted their investments — and some of their ships — to Asia the last couple of years, which in today’s world could mean counting on a local (Asian) clientele.

For North Americans, there is no shortage of options. A quick count shows that there are 21 cruise homeports in this continent: Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Port Canaveral, Tampa, Jacksonville, New Orleans, Galveston, Houston, Charleston, Baltimore, Norfolk, Bayonne, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver, Anchorage, Boston, San Diego, Seattle, Montreal.

So if you’re an avid cruiser who’s reluctant to fly afar to get to a ship, pick a port.

You may find many kindred spirits.

In the news…

• Two biggest ships (both Royal Caribbean) in southern hemisphere meeting in Sydney

Today at portsandbows.comChristmas markets with Viking in Europe

Norwegian Getaway
7 nights
December 13, 2015
Miami (return): Great Stirrup Cay, Ocho Rios, George Town, Cozumel
Inside: $649
Cost per day: $92

Cruise ships missing out on Montreal

There aren’t many secrets left in the cruise business, but one of them is surely “Montreal in Summertime.” For whatever reason, it has become a city of fall colors for cruise ships and their visitors, and anybody who knows Montreal can only wonder why.

Cruise-ship activity in the 360-year-old Canadian port city is highest in September and October. The only major cruise ship that visits in July and August this year is Holland America’s Maasdam, and it’s only there twice. In the five-week period that starts September 10, however, there are at least eight major ship visits scheduled to make a port stop in Montreal, including three by the Maasdam. By then, the chill is usually in the air.

What they’re missing is summer, the best of all seasons in Canada’s second-largest city, although the mystery is less pronounced further up the St. Lawrence River, in Quebec City.

It’s in the summer that Montreal’s downtown streets are alive with people and the joie-de-vivre spirit that is part of being French-Canadian. It’s in the summer that Old Montreal with all its charm and street vendors and outdoor cafes can best be explored, because it’s the best climate. It’s in the summer that sports fans can enjoy the Canadian Grand Prix, world-class tennis and Canadian football, played by mostly American players and for sheer excitement a game superior to the one played in the NFL.

And it’s in the summer that you can enjoy old world architecture in shirtsleeves, the international jazz festival and the wonders of Mount Royal Park, designed by the same man who created Central Park in New York.

How can we be so sure about all this? Because we lived in Montreal for more than a decade.

For an industry that always seems to take people places with the nicest weather, it seems the cruise ships are missing the boat in thinking of Montreal as a fall destination.

Photos courtesy of Montréal International Jazz Festival & Tourisme Montréal (Stéphan Poulin)

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