Your adventure begins in the historic port town of Louisbourg, Nova Scotia. First visited in 1597 by the English, the town was fortified in 1713 by the French in recognition of its very strategic maritime location. During the 18th century, Louisbourg was the third busiest seaport in North America.
Embark on the expedition vessel this afternoon in time for a dinner of fresh local lobster, to be enjoyed as your ship sails past the lighthouse and onto the Great Banks.
Located on the edge of the Grand Banks, hundreds of kilometers from the coast, Sable Island has a storied history as a graveyard of ships, with more than 350 ships falling victim to the treacherous currents and sandbars. Sporadically inhabited by sealers, shipwreck survivors, and salvagers, the island is now home to fewer than six year-round inhabitants and a herd of Sable Island ponies. Sable Island is now one of Canada’s newest national parks.
On the north central coast of Cape Breton, the Bird Islands are home to a number of important species, including the Great cormorant, Atlantic puffin, Atlantic razorbill, and black-legged kittiwake. The islands are also known as an important feeding area for Cape Breton’s population of bald eagles.
Sculpted out of sandstone, the remote islands of the Gulf of St. Lawrence are home to unique fishing communities with beautifully maintained waterfront houses and boats, flowing grassy plains and sculpted shorelines. In addition to the traditional fishing and sealing culture, you can see a wide diversity of bird life along the beaches and lagoons.
At Bonaventure Island, drop anchor near the town of Perce and visit the island by zodiac. One of the largest northern gannet colonies in the world, Bonaventure Island is protected under provincial park status in Quebec. Visit the colony, indulging in close up views of these majestic seabirds.
At the mouth of the Saint Lawrence River, the river water mixes with Arctic waters from the Strait of Belle Isle and the more temperate Atlantic waters. Due to its location at this confluence, Anticosti Island is rich in marine life. Plan to wander the beaches near the eastern end of the island, followed by a zodiac cruise along the cliffs at East Point. Keep your eyes open for shorebirds and seabirds as well as for whales and seals as you enjoy this region.
Sailing into majestic Bonne Bay, in the heart of Gros Morne National Park, the cliffs soar up out of the water and are covered in a green blanket of tuckamore - windswept spruce sculpted by the ocean breeze. At Woody Point, you are welcomed ashore by a delegation from the community. Then hike up to the excellent interpretation center. From here, various guided walks take you into the World Heritage-listed Tablelands, and to the lookout for a view of much of the park. Truly a spectacular experience!
Francois (pronounced Frans-way) is a small, isolated community steeped in the traditions of the sea. Perched on the edge of a beautiful fjord on Newfoundland's south coast, Francois' community welcomes you ashore. If you hit it off, you may be invited to a dance at the community hall!
The island of St. Pierre is a European enclave still under French control. Walking down the street feels like taking a stroll through a provincial French village. There is an excellent puffin colony here and if weather permits, you can take a zodiac cruise to see these colorful birds. Tonight, enjoy a special dinner attended by the ship's Captain, to make the end of your maritime adventure.
Sail back to Cape Breton across the mouth of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, heading again for the historic port of Louisbourg. Disembark in the morning. While some may hustle to the airport, others can add extra days to their stay in Cape Breton to experience one of Canada's coastal gems.