Cruise Destinations

Learn more about the travel highlights of the four major New England cruise stops frequented by large and small cruising ships.

New England Cruise Destinations: Newport, RHode Island

Newport, Rhode Island: Grand Mansions and Tennis Greats

The sailing capital of the USA, Newport has a long history as a summer playground. This town is perhaps best known for its historic and opulent grand mansions built by wealthy industrialists who summered there in America’s Gilded Age (1865–1914). Self-guided audio tours are offered in English, French, German and Spanish at three of the mansions: the Breakers, the Marble House, and the Elms. Visitors will also want to travel the Cliff Walk – a public access walk along the ocean past the mansions. In town, explore the International Tennis Hall of Fame, take a historic walking tour, or just admire the amazing collection of boats in the harbor. And for a special experience, visit the nearby award-winning Newport Vineyards. 

Quincy Market & Flowers - Boston, Massachusetts  - New England Cruise Destinations

Boston: History, Culture, Shopping, and Fabulous Food

Boston is a very history-charged city. This is also a great walking city so be sure to wear your comfortable shoes. The Freedom Trail is a marked path that takes you past 16 of America’s most significant historic sites (self-guided or organized tours available). On sunny days, visitors can enjoy a Swan Boat Tour at the Boston Public Garden (American’s oldest public garden) or take the elevator to the top floor of the Prudential Center for a spectacular aerial view of the city. If you enjoy museums, you have many to choose from including the New England Aquarium, the Boston Museum of Science, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Boston Children’s Museum. Or, head over to Cambridge to tour the Harvard Museum of Natural History and go on a humorous and informative tour of Harvard University on the “Hahvahd Tour.” For visitors picking up or departing from a cruise in Boston, you will want to take 3-4 days to explore this great city. See also:

Downtown Portland (credit-Portland CVB) - New England Cruise Destinations

Portland, Maine: Lighthouses, World-Class Art, and A Foodie's Delight

In the working seaport of Portland, Maine, visitors can take an entertaining trolley tour by beautiful historic homes and parks overlooking the harbor. On the way from downtown to the coast, tour past the childhood home of the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and the pre-war Victoria Mansion, then step out to see the famous Portland Head Light. Art lovers will want a special trip to the Portland Museum of Art with its three historic and remarkable buildings showcasing three centuries of art and architecture. In the historic Old Port area, poke around unique shops and special eateries.  

Gloucester Massachusetts Town Hall (MOTT-Tim Grafft)


Filled with shopping, art and history, Gloucester is America's oldest working seaport. This city is set on Cape Ann, the beautiful promontory North of Boston that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean. The best way to explore Gloucester is by following the new Harbor Walk, complete with app. Stops along the 1.2-mile loop include The Man at the Wheel, the famous statue of a fisherman scrutinizing the heavens, and the Fishermen's Wives Memorial that honors the families left behind. These are just two of 42 so-called Story Moments along the way.

For a unique walking tour, Taste Gloucester takes you on a walking and tasting tour to learn about the culinary treats that make this area special. Maritime Gloucester is all about nautical heritage — very appropriate in this harbor, which is still home to a busy fishing fleet. Every year, it lands more than 55 million dollars worth of fresh cod, haddock, pollock and lobster. The catch is sold the old-fashioned way at auction houses on Fisherman’s Wharf; taste some of it in the city's lively seafood restaurants. But fishing can also be dangerous: the movie, The Perfect Storm (2000), told the true — and tragic — story of the loss of a local swordfishing boat. But, there is another side to Gloucester. The clear air and romantic ocean views have long inspired artists. See grand seascapes at the Cape Ann Museum, which has the world’s largest collection of works by local hero Fitz Henry Lane, one of America's star 19th-century painters. And, Gloucester is still inspiring artists. Going strong is the Rocky Neck Art Colony, one of America's oldest artistic communities. Visit the studios and galleries; buy paintings, jewelry, prints, sculpture, ceramics and more. What could be a better souvenir?

Bar Harbor (credit-Maine Office of Tourism) - New England Cruise Destinations

Bar Harbor: Acadia National Park & Mt. Desert Island

Up on the northern coast of Maine, Bar Harbor is a favorite cruise stop. This highly scenic seaside destination is on the east side of Mt. Desert Island and surrounded by Acadia National Park — one of America's most popular public parks. The Island Explorer is a free shuttle bus service for the harbor and park; upon request it will stop at the Mt. Desert Oceanarium with its lobster museum and hatchery. Or, you can opt for Oli's Trolley — a 2½-hour fully narrated tour of Bar Harbor, past the mansions of a bygone era and through Acadia. Some cruise ships also offer organized trips into the park. One thing not to miss in Maine – lobster! At Bar Harbor Lobster Bakes, visitors can eat the freshest lobster, fished early in the morning. The restaurant features a traditional lobster bake that includes North Atlantic mussels, corn on the cob, and homemade blueberry cake. Travelers who want the experience of fishing for lobster can take a lobster boat ride tour with a Lulu Lobster Boat Ride, starting at The Harborside Hotel & Marina. And, beer lovers can wash it all down during a tour of the Atlantic Brewing Company with special brews like the Bar Harbor Blueberry Ale.

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