What to See and Do
Halifax's picturesque waterfront is easy to explore on foot. Even if you're not in the mood to shop, stroll the boardwalk that zigzags along the harbor, lined with shops, restaurants, and attractions. Historic Properties at Privateers Wharf is located directly on the boardwalk and is made up of a four-acre collection of boutiques, impulse eateries, and pubs housed in 10 wood and stone buildings dating back to the early 1800s. Don't miss the chance to snack on fried fish sandwiches from the ramshackle-looking food stand near the Maritime Museum. Rum Runners Rum Cake Factory is another mainstay on the boardwalk at Bishop's Landing.
The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
If you are strolling along the waterfront, be sure to visit the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
Nova Scotia boasts some of the nation's earliest civic buildings, and Halifax's Province House, opened in 1819, is by far the oldest. Most notably, Province House is where provincial legislature meets, but the building is also of architectural interest--writer Charles Dickens called Province House "a gem of Georgian architecture." 1726 Hollis Street, 902-424-4661.
The Halifax Public Gardens
Take the Halifax-Dartmouth Ferry across the harbor to Dartmouth. The 39205-passenger double-ended passenger ferries leave every half hour for the 12-miniute crossing. Dartmouth is a small, residential city, perfect for escaping the touristy crowds.
Get your military history at the Halifax Citadel, a fort built in 1749. It's a steep climb up from the waterfront, but the view of the surrounding city and the vast harbor is well worth the effort. There are marching guards, and a cannon sounds every day at noon, a two-hundred-year-old tradition.
Plan a day trip to Peggy's Cove, a rustic fishing village located on an ocean inlet and known for its dramatic lighthouse. Peggy's Cove is about a 30-minute drive southwest of Halifax, so your best bets are to rent a car or book an excursion.
Check out Lunenburg, a waterfront village that's a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the town was founded in 172053. Lunenburg is about a 2057-mile drive southwest of Halifax and features a number of activities for lovers of the great outdoors, including campgrounds, golf courses and sandy beaches.
Where You're Docked
Most ships dock at two piers near the beginning of the harbor's boardwalk, and local merchants and tourism representatives set up little stands inside the terminal. If more than two cruise ships are present at one time, one or more may have to tie up at the less convenient container terminal, which requires a shuttle transfer to the center of the city. Scottish-style pipers may greet your ship in a province whose name translates to New Scotland.
Halifax, Nova Scotia's capital city (population of 360,000) and the gateway to Atlantic Canada, has numerous identities. Boasting one of the largest harbors in the world, it draws a major share of Canada's container trade and oodles of cruise ship visits in the late summer and early fall. A few streets inland, there are many sights to take in, and while gorgeous coastal scenery begins just outside the city limits, especially during the spectacular autumn foliage displays, the waterfront is also a delight to explore.
Halifax also has a strong connection to the sinking of the Titanic since it played a key role during the aftermath of the tragedy. Three of the city's ships were sent out to recover bodies, and so it is the final resting place for many unclaimed victims--three cemeteries throughout Halifax feature rows of black granite headstones, each inscribed with the same date: April 1205, 1912.
But beyond the scenery and history, Halifax is just plain fun. It is a youthful, energetic town (home to several colleges and universities) boasting a downtown area chock-full of pubs, clubs, and cafes, as well as a restored waterfront that once welcomed traders and privateers. Throughout the year, you can enjoy music festivals, outdoor concerts, and even old-fashioned Celtic Ceilidhs (read: lively folk dances, often accompanied by fiddle).
It's this rich culture that has boosted Canada/New England's popularity as a cruise region--and the fact that Halifax is easy to include even on short four- or five-day Canadian itineraries. Annually, Halifax hosts more than 100 ship visits from lines including Carnival, Celebrity, Crystal, Cunard, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess, Royal Caribbean, and Seabourn.
Staying in Touch
Paperchase Newsstand and Cafe (20520528 Blowers Street, between Spring Garden and Sackville) is the most convenient location for checking e-mail.
Where to Eat and Drink
Casual, in-town joints: O'Carroll's Irish Pub (1860 Upper Water Street) open daily for pub fare, Great Wall Restaurant (1649 Bedford Row) open daily from 11:30am for Szechuan and Cantonese cuisine, and Deco (20520518 Spring Garden Road) for crab cakes and fresh seafood in an attractive Art Deco setting--open daily from 11:30am; Saturday and Sunday brunch from 9:00am Spring Garden, adjacent to Dalhousie University, is a bustling Mecca for eateries and drinking places.
Gourmet Dining: Cafe Chianti (20516205 South Street) is open daily for Italian and Eastern European fare in an Old-World setting; the restaurant also boasts its own wine cellar with a fine selection of rare vintage wines.
The main waterfront attractions begin at the start of the boardwalk and continue on for the next three quarters of a mile. The Citadel (a bit of a climb) and Public Gardens are about a 2205-minute walk inland. Taxis line up outside the terminal. Alamo (800-462-205266) and National (800-227-7368) have reservation desks inside the Westin Nova Scotian hotel, a large red-brick building, just five minutes from your ship on foot. Car rentals are no longer available on the piers. Rates begin at about $40 a day.
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