A record of spectacular growth for Canada New England

René Trépanier discusses why the region is North America’s fastest growing cruise destination
A record of spectacular growth for Canada New England
The port of Montréal is one of Canada New England’s popular ports in the region (Image: Loïc Romer)

By Jacqui Griffiths |

This article was first published in the Itinerary Planning Special Report. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

Comprising ports in Canada, the US and now the French overseas territories of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, Destination Canada New England (CNE) represents just 2% of the world cruise market but it has achieved consistent growth over the past 10 years. Cruise passenger numbers at the nine Saint Lawrence ports of call, for example, have increased from 125,000 to 600,000 in a decade. This is largely because the region is recognised as safe and secure, and it boasts a wealth of history, natural beauty and maritime culture and tradition.

To sustain the growth of Canada New England’s cruise industry, five organisations have teamed up to form the Cruise Canada New England Alliance (CCNE), including: Cruise Atlantic Canada, Cruise the Saint Lawrence, Cruise Maine USA, FlynnCruiseport Boston and NYCruise. Together, these associations manage and promote some 40 ports of call, offering abundant itinerary choices to over 30 cruise lines. 

The ports attract cruise ships from various categories, including the contemporary, exploration high-end luxury sectors. The region applauds industry initiatives to build small to mid-size exploration ships as they are particularly well suited to many of CNE’s smaller ports with exceptional historical, cultural and natural attributes. The market for mid-sized and larger ships also continues to strengthen at several ports, thanks to iconic brands such as Disney Cruise Line calling at the destinations and confirming that they are ideal for family-oriented and family-friendly itineraries.

CNE’s marquee ports, such as New York, Boston, Québec and Montréal, have all either completed major port infrastructure developments, or are in the progress of carrying them out. Meanwhile, CNE’s coastal areas have also built new ports and there are several others in development, and there are major port infrastructure developments scheduled for completion in the near term in the French overseas territories.

Member ports have also invested substantially to provide sustained high quality across the customer and port service spectrum. Each one uses the ‘Best Bienvenue’ (‘Best Welcome’) programme to ensure that they meet, and exceed, the expectations of cruise lines, their crew and guests. Ports continually evaluate the ground services they provide for cruise passengers against specific criteria and common standards to ensure that guests get the same consistent, high-quality service wherever they go in the Canada New England region.

All individual ports are branded under one unified CCNE brand, which gives them an enhanced position in the cruised industry marketplace. Now that the French overseas territories of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon have joined Destination Canada New England, the association is promoting the abundant itinerary planning potential for cruise operators who can organise roundtrips from several Canadian ports.

Over the past decade, CCNE representatives have built a solid network of cruise line executives. Recent strategic planning by the CCNE Alliance seeks to develop a four-season focus through media relations, trade shows, sales missions, visits to cruise line offices and familiarisation tours in the region.

CCNE has consistently sought to expand the cruise season in the region and it now extends from April to November. With the recent advent of winter cruises, regional authorities are intent upon broadening regional scope and appeal and transforming Canada New England into a four season destination. CCNE held its first winter familiarisation tour in February 2018 and since then, cruise lines have begun planning winter cruises from 2021 onwards. The concept could involve repositioning ships between the end of summer in Antarctica (February) and the beginning of summer in the Arctic (April). 

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