Destinations & Articles
Cruising the best of Newfoundland with Adventure Canada
& Photography by Michael Morcos
Founded by the Swan family in 1988, Adventure Canada is supported by the people who work for them, their passion for delivering unsurpassed experiences, and creating trips that offer travellers exploration, education and enjoyment. There are many cruises to choose from, including Narwhals & Polar Bears, the Mighty Saint Lawrence and Heart of the Arctic to name just a few of the more than dozen available. Our trip, the Circumnavigation of Newfoundland,
proved to be everything advertised and more!
Our ship was the Ocean Endeavour, an expedition ship made specifically for arctic travel and it was much bigger than I thought it would be. The ship has everything we could ask for and would service us well, with plenty of room on board to help us never feel crowded. My cabin was just perfect, it was clean, with a great use of space with a full size window to see the wonderful coastline, and our shower was always warm and relaxing after long days of walking or hiking! This would be my comfortable home for ten marvellous fun packed adventurous days.
The staff added to the ambiance, as among them were storytellers, musicians, historians, artists, scientists and archeologists, and we learned a lot along the way and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves in the process. The food was amazing, which added to the list of surprising elements that I never thought an adventure ship could have! A huge variety of wonderful and varied meals were offered, and even with all the activities, it was hard to keep the inches of the waist. Luckily there was a gym and a pool to work some of the deserts off!
Each morning was a new, fabulous location and completely different from the last. Each landing was an adventure on its own, but the first step was to try and make it onto the Zodiac boats from the Ocean Endeavour’s special port doors! This was quite an experience, especially on days with bigger waves. The trip to land would take between 5 and 20 minutes, filled with magnificent views and usually very memorable activities. On a couple of occasions we had icebergs floating all round us- what a sight!
St. John’s NL
Our starting and finishing point was this wonderful, compact size capital city on the easternmost edge of the continent. There is a lively nightlife on the weekends with plenty of live music in the heart of the city. We enjoyed a delicious, typical pub meal of fish and chips with local beer and local fish! There are countless things to do, including visiting Signal Hill, which features walking trails and the Cabot Tower, which was the site of the first transatlantic wireless communication in 1901! Another interesting tidbit is that province has two very popular dog breeds - the Newfoundland and the Labrador breeds, and even had statues of both!
A historical stop, this area was located in an inlet and features an abandoned village where there were the remains of housing structures and an ancient cemetary. A tidbit shared by our guide was how the residents would actually take their homes with them to a new settlement by floating it along waterways upon wood – what an incredible thought.
The locals here welcomed us with open arms, and our tour led us to a WW2 plane crash site and the very amazing, 200 foot handmade tapestry by local women. Kept in a small room, the rolled out tapestry stretches around it many times over. At night, we had a unique meal that included a song and dance show and, of course, Newfoundland laughs and jokes. This was a very unique experience of a very unique culture, something completely different from the rest of Canada.
L'Anse aux Meadows
The adventure began with some incredible luck, as we were surrounded by icebergs, majestic, huge and serene, but this site is famous for being the location of the only Viking settlement in North America. L’Anse aux Meadows offers proof that Columbus was not the first European to discover this land! The site has lots of left over artifacts and now actors dress up in period costumes from the era. There is also a reproduction of one of the Viking ships.
Red Bay, Labrador
Famously known for whaling between the 1500s to the early 1800s, Red Bay is a fishing village and former site of several Basque whaling stations on the southern coast. Proud of their history, the locals were friendly and filled with stories and tall tales. This would be our only landing in Labrador, the east coast gate from where you can start a drive across Canada.
Gros Morne National Park
The Gros Morne National Park is a world heritage site located on the west coast of Newfoundland and is the second largest national park in Atlantic Canada. Some of the greatest natural scenery one can find in the east is in this national park. A striking feature found here is the exposed part of the world’s mantle, a sight to behold!
After walking some of the many trails, the village of Woody Point was charming place to rest up and enjoy a meal by the shore surrounded by wonderful natural scenery.
A beautiful spot to relax with unbelievable scenery of the waters, icebergs, sandy beaches, forests and hills. It is hard to put into words how incredibly spectacular this part of the world is. The area has many cabins and fishing lodges…Life is good!
The locals were so good to us here and they treated us to the usual Newfoundlander welcome and hospitality. This village has no roads to the outside world, and the only way in and out is by boat, seaplane or helicopter. This seclusion makes it a very special part of Canada. The inlet protects it from the harsh sea conditions and the surrounding mountains give it a magical, mystical feel. This night we would be welcomed to the community centre for some local music and dancing, what an experience!
Here we would meet Newfoundland’s only First Nation people, who honored us with a time-honoured dance ceremony in traditional dress. A great example of how First Nations are reclaiming their world, including this art form that was almost lost to the ages. On site were tepees and a place where they were creating birch wood canoes as they have been doing for centuries. Again, it was wonderful to see as these methods being slowly revived. A special visit to a special place.
Saint Pierre, FRANCE
Off the southern tip of Newfoundland lies Saint Pierre and Miquelon, which is a little bit of France in Canada. A French archipelago, it is sparsely populated and contains the Grand Barachois lagoon, home to thousands of seabirds and seals. Saint Pierre Island is busier and has a much more distinct French atmosphere, with a cathedral and the Musée Heritage that celebrates regional history. We also visited a nearby island, Île-aux-Marins, which features an abandoned fishing village.
Trip of a lifetime
Adventure Canada went over and above all my expectations and offered a wonderful and unique way to see Newfoundland and provided experiences that have made a lifetime of memories.
This was only a small part of their cruising season as they started in Quebec City and would end the year with cruises right into the heart of the Canadian arctic, including Greenland.
This incredible part of Canada is so remote, but with the knowledge of the experts at Adventure Canada, they make it easy and safe while in the comfort of a world class expedition ship.