A cornucopia of culture and cuisine on Prince Edward Island

Craig Sulis tells Rebecca Gibson why the Canadian island’s diverse history, vibrant culinary scene, natural beauty and friendly locals make it an attractive cruise destination

A cornucopia of culture and cuisine on Prince Edward Island
The destination has been given the moniker ‘Canada’s Food Island’

Nestled in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and situated halfway between New York City, USA, and Montreal, Canada, Prince Edward Island is a popular port of call on many Canada New England cruise itineraries. 

Beyond the convenient location, there are a myriad of reasons for cruise operators to bring their guests to the island, according to Craig Sulis, manager of sales, trade and media at Tourism Prince Edward Island. However, there are three unique factors that make it stand out: its natural beauty, the fresh food, and the welcoming people.

“Our island offers a patchwork of gently rolling farmland backdropped by endless sandy, champagne-coloured beaches and red sandstone cliffs,” says Sulis. “Visitors are constantly clicking their cameras as they marvel at the endless array of colour and scenery. Much of this beauty can be found in the Prince Edward Island National Park, which cruise passengers can visit during one of the many available shore excursions. Wildlife such as the Blue Heron, the American Bald eagle, and the red fox are frequently seen in the bays and dunes.”

Prince Edward Island’s lively culinary scene is also a key draw for cruise visitors. “We’re known as ‘Canada’s Food Island’ for good reason,” says Sulis. “Food is a way of life for locals, and we take the farm-to-table concept to a whole new level, with our incredibly talented chefs using fresh, local ingredients from both the land and the sea to elevate the culinary experience. The island’s oyster, lobsters, and mussels are the freshest you will find anywhere, and there are many restaurants serving these and other cultural delights just steps away from the port.”

In addition, cruise guests can participate in various activities to explore the island’s culinary heritage. “They can learn to shuck an oyster, bake sourdough bread with local ingredients, join the ‘Taste the Town’ walking tour, or sign up for award-winning culinary experiences in the kitchen and on the beach,” says Sulis. “These excursions are all led by farmers, fisherfolk, chefs, artisans, musicians and a host of other local characters who love what they do and want to share it with visitors.”

Interacting with local people and learning about their history and culture is one of the most unique and immersive experiences cruise guests can enjoy on Prince Edward Island.

“The Mi’kmaq are the indigenous people of Prince Edward Island and know it as Epekwitk, which means ‘something lying on the water’,” says Sulis. “Over the centuries, the island has been colonised by both the French (who created the Acadia colony) and the British and is now one of the 13 provinces of Canada. Today, it’s home to people of indigenous, Acadian, English, French, Black, Irish, Scottish, Lebanese and other heritage, creating a rich cultural diversity that reflects the island’s ever-changing story. We offer multiple shore excursions to enable guests to learn more about our island through the eyes of those who live here.”

In 2023, for example, cruise visitors will be able to join a new ‘Journey into History’ tour, which has been created by shore excursion provider Experiences PEI to bring Prince Edward Island’s indigenous, Acadian and British history to life. It takes place at Skmaqn-Port La Joye-Fort Amherst, which guarded the entrance to Charlottetown Harbour in the mid 1700s and is now a National Heritage Site.

“Upon arrival, the guests will be led to a traditional hand-crafted wigwam where an aboriginal elder will conduct a traditional smudging ceremony and explain the importance of the site to the Mi’kmaq,” says Sulis. “Guests will then head to the interpretive centre where the elder will explain the role of the medicine man in Mi’kmaq culture and share how traditional rattles were used to ward off bad spirits or invoke good spirits. The elder will then provide step-by-step instructions as guests create their own rawhide rattle to take home.”

Following this, guests will be able to sample bannock, a traditional Mi’kmaq bread, and fricot, an Acadian chicken soup. “It will be prepared by an Acadian chef who will explain the cultural significance of the dish,” says Sulis. “Guests will then join a Parks Canada interpreter for a guided walk through the remains of the French and English fort to learn about the historical significance of the site.”

Cruise operators wanting to bring guests to the island to experience its natural beauty, cuisine, culture and its friendly people will find it easy to dock at the Port of Charlottetown in the island’s capital city. Located within easy walking or driving distance to multiple tourist attractions, shops and dining venues, the port offers well-equipped facilities that enable seamless embarkation and disembarkation experiences.

“Upgrades carried out in 2022 have doubled the port’s berthing capacity, allowing it to accommodate two 300-metre-long ships at the same time,” says Sulis. “The gangways have also been enhanced to improve social distancing capabilities. Meanwhile, the welcome centre offers easy access to shore excursion and transportation providers. It also hosts a wide variety of high-quality local retailers and artisans.

“Prince Edward Island offers visitors a truly unique Canadian experience, and we are excited to continue welcoming them to our shores.” 

This article was first published in the 2023 issue of Cruise & Ferry Itinerary Planning. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. Subscribe to Cruise & Ferry Itinerary Planning for FREE here to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox or your door.

Share this story

Rebecca Gibson
By Rebecca Gibson
14 December 2022

Theme picker