Calling all winter enthusiasts: You don’t have to go polar cruising to get a taste of snowy Canadian land- and seascapes. Beginning in 2025, one cruise line will begin sailing year round on the mighty St. Lawrence river in Quebec waters.
Doesn’t it ice over? you ask. While the western ‘seaway’ section that includes locks between Montreal and the Great Lakes closes the first three months of the year, icebreakers help keep the river open from Montreal east to the Atlantic year round.
For the first time, a cruise ship will take advantage of that navigable winter route. Through the height of famously snowy Quebec winter, Ponant’s Le Commandant Charcot (pictured, above, in the Canadian Arctic) will cruise with 200 winter enthusiasts to celebrate the season with 12-night sailings January – March, 2025.
Itineraries will embark or disembark at Quebec City or Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, the island territory of France off the coast of Canada.
The cruises will call in famous and off-the-beaten path Quebec destinations including Iles–de–la–Madeleine, Gaspe, Sept-Iles, Saguenay and that little piece of historic Europe in North America: Quebec City.
Itineraries will incorporate longer calls in port, including overnights, to enable guests to immerse themselves fully in local winter lifestyles, activities and culture.
For example, Quebec City dubs itself “North America’s winter capital,” and considers a trip to Quebec in the winter to be one of the most authentic ways to experience the destination, with tourism officials explaining that, 'Winter is part and parcel of our DNA and visiting Quebec in winter will plunge travellers into the living history of a French-speaking city dating back some 415 years in time.'
Time it right, and you may even be able to take part in one of the world's largest winter festivals. The city’s pre-Lenten carnival in February celebrates Quebec winter traditions. Every year, thousands of visitors flock to theQuebec Winter Carnivalto enjoy a host of activities for all ages, including night parades, snow sculptures, shows, skating and ice canoe racing. Bonhomme Carnaval (a giant smiling snowman wearing the traditional red toque and sash of 16th century French settlers) is the ambassadorof the Quebec Winter Carnival.Bonhomme Carnaval has his own ice palace to visit that serves as the focal point of celebrations.
Quebec City ©Tourism Quebec/Francis Gagnon
In addition to Quebec winter culture, intrepid guests will experience the wonders of the Canadian winter and scenic snowscapes. Imagine yourself in tent overnight in an Innu community, touring on snowmobile, riding a fat bike on a snow-covered beach and trying your hand at dogsledding, snowshoeing or even ice fishing on the Saguenay fjord. And you may even be treated to a dazzling display of the northern lights.
When the Commandant Charcot sets out to navigate the ice of the Saint Lawrence in January 2025, she will be embarking on a world premiere journey that also highlights sustainable travel as a hybrid electric polar expedition vessel powered by liquified natural gas. The ship's ice breaking capability enables her to operate safely in polar conditions, and the onboard lifestyle of this French-flagged cruise line embraces French ‘savoir vivre.’
By: Lynn Elmhirst Producer and Host, World's Greatest Cruises
Top Image: Ponant
All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be copied, re-published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Most Popular Episodes
- Save During Wave! All the Reasons to Book Your Next Cruise During 'Wave Season'
- Highlights of an Emerald Cruise on Asia's Mekong River
- Two New Ships for Uniworld Boutique River Cruises Beginning 2024
- Best Souvenirs from an Emerald Cruise on France's Rhone River
- This Cruise Line is Submerging Thousands of Bottles of Sparkling Wine in the Ocean