Heading south to warmer weather is not the only way to enjoy cruises in North America. Nova Scotia, Canada has recently introduced the Nova Star ship, which brings passengers overnight from Portland, Maine to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. This can be the ultimate way to try out a mini nautical adventure with your pals without fully committing to a cruise.
Nova Star Cruises
Passengers can easily walk aboard the ship to either explore Yarmouth by foot or rent a car once they arrive in Nova Scotia. Many opt to drive their vehicle onto the ship for the convenience of packing the car and having your own transportation. But rentals are easy to reserve right at the port in Yarmouth as well.
While not mandatory, families with antsy kids or younger little ones might want to indulge in a sleeper cabin. Although cruises are during the day returning from Yarmouth to Maine, the way to Canada is overnight. Seats are large and cozy, but if you hope to hit the ground running upon arrival in the morning, it can be best to have a base on the ship for relaxing and sleeping. Cabins fit four comfortable with bunk-style beds, or premiere rooms with doubles and bunk bed combos.
You can purchase tickets in advance for the upcoming season and get ready for your trip. There’s huge discounts for families of four traveling together and children sail free under the age of 14-years-old.
What to do in Yarmouth
A quaint and cozy town, Yarmouth is the perfect introduction to beautiful harbor towns in Nova Scotia. The ship docks there everyday, only a few minutes’ walk from the massive visitor’s center and walk-able downtown area. Your crew can choose to stay in town a night or two at one of the super comfortable and often historical bed and breakfasts in Yarmouth, such as the MacKinnon-Cann Inn. Walk five minutes from the front door for a bite to eat at The Rudder’s Seafood Restaurant and Brew Pub on the water, or stay in for the evening and enjoy a fresh meal prepared by the inn’s restaurant on site.
We love making a pit stop at Tim Horton’s too every time we head to Canada. This coffee and donut chain is a Canadian staple and can be a wonderful spot for free WiFi, snacks and spots to relax with the kids. There is one right on the main street of Yarmouth.
Head up to Halifax
It’s perfectly fine to stay in Yarmouth for your getaway, but tweens will have a blast on a mini-road trip up to the capital city of Halifax. It’s a great way to round out the trip! Cruise up the ‘south’ coast for pretty scenery, small towns, picturesque harbors and more. Or, take the north road to pass the Bay of Fundy and wineries. Once you all arrive in Halifax, head first to the Citadel for a bird’s eye view of the urban sprawl below. This hub of Canadian history offers tours during the day, but a simple stroll through the fort and museum can make for the perfect morning. If it’s the right season, catch a hockey game in town (the stadium’s right in front of the Citadel) or continue to walk back towards the harbor to have a bite to eat. Early in the evening, the Oh Bla Dee wine bar is fun for parents to sample some local libations, while the Esquire Restaurant has a more family-friendly, laid-back atmosphere.
Mature tweens and teen can appreciate some of the fantastic accommodations offered in Halifax. For instance, the Prince George Hotel is new on the scene and provides a super posh atmosphere for stylish family travelers to indulge. Rooms are plush and often adorned with special foodie welcomes and beauty amenities. Lots of action happens in the main stylish lobby, including a bar and a posh restaurant. Be located right in the heart of downtown for easy access to restaurants and attractions.
The visitor center in Yarmouth is more than happy to help plan out your mini road trip as well. For instance, our visit in the fall brought a fun lumberjack festival in a small town in the way to Halifax, where the tweens could meet some locals, paint pumpkins and watch an axe throwing competition for free admission. Ask what’s happening during your visit for an authentic experience.