Some dispute the claim of St. John’s, Newfoundland, to be the oldest city in North America: but, there’s no doubt that by the mid-1500s, Europeans regularly sailed across the North Atlantic to fish in the waters around the Avalon Peninsula. Today, St. John’s is still a capital of the fishing trade, but also a charming, easygoing place that feels like a bit of Ireland or Scotland floated across the water and attached itself to the eastern edge of Canada.
Shorelines dotted with inlets and coves, hilly terrain and brightly colored buildings all invite cruise ship guests to explore. Ships dock right in town, just a five-minute walk from the shops along Water and Duckworth Streets, as well as the many British-style pubs of George Street. In some of these, you can take part in a “screech in” ceremony (taking a shot spiced rum before kissing a cod fish) that will make you an honorary Newfoundlander, and sample the local delicacies of fried cod cheeks and cod tongues.
Take an excursion to Signal Hill, where signal flags once alerted the town to approaching ships. At the top, Cabot Tower has exhibits about the first-ever transatlantic wireless transmission, received by Guglielmo Marconi in 1901. You can also visit the Johnson Geo Centre; most of this geological interpretation center is below ground, amidst layers of 550-million-year-old rock. There’s also an excellent exhibit on the Titanic.
Built over the former Fort Townshend, The Rooms is a major cultural attraction. It includes the Provincial Art Gallery, with works from across Canada and the world; and the Provincial Museum, with dioramas that depict the natural and cultural history of the area.
To stand on the easternmost point in North America, visit Cape Spear, about seven miles from town. Admire the rocky shore and crashing waves (you may even spot an iceberg) and tour the restored Cape Spear Lighthouse, Newfoundland’s oldest surviving lighthouse.
St. John’s is featured on various cruises of New England and Maritime Canada (including some autumn color cruises), transatlantic crossings from Southampton to Boston or New York, and even some world cruises. Most ships visit St. John’s from late May through October, when the weather is most welcoming. To book a cruise that includes this historic and delightful port, talk with your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.
By the way, when considering itineraries, don’t confuse St. John’s, Newfoundland, with Saint John, New Brunswick. That’s a different port, also well worth seeing. Perhaps you’ll book a cruise that includes both!