Riot Of Color Or Subtle Change, Crystal Fall Foliage Cruise Will Be Epic

This week marked the beginning of Maine’s fall foliage season. Good news, but the question remains: Will there be fall colors for us to bring you live via Chris Cruises On Instagram on our Crystal Cruises fall foliage sailing 8 days from now?  Checking in with the state of Maine, the northernmost area of the state is still green with hints of color, but we have high hopes… and a backup plan.

“Ever so subtle changes are occurring in the northern regions of the state (zones 6 and 7), but right now we are still on track for a typical fall foliage season with northern Maine reaching peak conditions by the end of September into the first week of October,” said the Maine Department of Agriculture in a statement.  The rest of the state’s progression of color will start occurring from north to south in mid-October. Coastal Maine typically reaches peak conditions October 13 through October 25,” according to Gale Ross, Maine’s fall foliage spokesperson.   Not so good news for our Crystal Fall Foliage Cruise that begins on September 19th.

Feeling sort of like we were going to the Caribbean with a named hurricane threatening our itinerary, we’re checking in with a number of sources to see the effect of weather on our Autumns Palette sailing from Boston to Quebec City. Already, we know that leaf peepers (we won’t be calling ourselves that) can visit the state’s official foliage website and sign-up to receive weekly reports by e-mail.  There, visitors and natives share their photos of the eventual riot of color throughout the state as the leaves gradually change and find information about the fall foliage and ranger-led hikes in the state parks.

Screenshot 2014-09-11 10.56.33The 2014 Fall Foliage Report from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry notes that  while peak conditions are still weeks away, Maine Forest Service rangers and state park rangers in the northern part of the state  are reporting subtle changes in leaf color.  More encouraging: as overnight temperatures drop into the 40s and daylight decreases, rangers expect a gradual change in leaf color from north to south.  Never mind that those conditions mean in peak conditions arrive in late October, about the time we will be sailing in the Caribbean for a different event.

Gathering fall colors information from a variety of sources, the Foliage Network has a network of webcams to check the progress of different areas, including some we are visiting with Crystal Cruises.  Checking a number of them, all we’re seeing is green.  Still we have high hopes…and a backup plan.

Don’t you just know that if the leaves have not turned from green to a rainbow of harvest colors by the time our ship sails that someone on Crystal Serenity will be moaning and complaining about it?  I can just hear it now “You should never have planned this if you could not deliver the fall colors!”  or  “The photo you have on the website completely misrepresents what we are seeing here.”   Grrr, I will silently want to strangle them.  Especially since there are an abundance of other activity options available on this sailing that don’t involve “peeping” which is kind of creepy anyway if you think about it.

Crystal Adventures ashore offer unique destination-focused tours for just about any interest.  We chose walking tours at a number of locations to make connections with the places we visit, on foot,  with views not obstructed by the windows of a tour bus.  If the colors are there, great.  If not, we have other interesting attractions to cover.  Take a look at the ports and Crystal’s descriptions of the tours we have selected:

Bar Harbor Maine- Victorian Bar Harbor By Foot
From the pier, begin your walk through Bar Harbor’s charming streets, accompanied by your knowledgeable guide dressed in period costume.

Your sense of being is transported to the carefree, prosperous time of the Astors and the Vanderbilts. The women portray Vanderbilt family maids and the men pose as dapper carriage drivers. Stop to view several summer “cottages,” which are actually magnificent, sprawling mansions, and hear stories of the extravagant parties hosted by some of the Victorian era’s most prominent families. Enjoy another glimpse into the past with an interior visit of St. Saviour’s Episcopal Church.

Built in 1878, it was initially constructed to seat 325 congregants; the church is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Step inside for a look at one of the church’s most impressive features, its ten Tiffany stained-glass windows. Having had the chance to peek into Bar Harbor’s romantic past, leisurely walk back to your Crystal ship or remain downtown for independent shopping.


St John, New Brunswick– History in Stone Geopark by Foot
This walking exploration will take you through some of the most architecturally important streetscapes in Canada, including the Old City Market, Prince William Street, Trinity Royal Preservation Center and King Street. This is a key experience in the Stonehammer Geopark, the first Geopark in North America, as named by the UNESCO-supported Global Geopark Network.

Saint John’s great fire of 1877 left an architectural heirloom in the heart of the city, joining masterpieces of local sandstone and granite with the surviving buildings. Saint John is now a modern city built from stone as old as 400 million years. Falling under the umbrella of UNESCO, Geoparks are recognized for having exceptional geological heritage. As one of the first places in Canada to be explored by geologists, it is fitting that the Stonehammer Geopark is first in North America.

Meeting your New Brunswick Museum expert at the pier, begin a walk through city streets.  You will explore fascinating details such as ornate stone carvings and gargoyles, and hear remarkable stories about the buildings and their residents. You will also visit the Saint John City Market, Canada’s oldest operating market since 1876, and an architectural gem itself.  Finish your walk with a stop at a local restaurant for a refreshment, and receive a copy of Rebuilt in Stone to take home as a memory of your Saint John adventure.


Halifax, Nova Scotia- Halifax On Foot
From the pier, take a comfortable city bus to the Halifax Public Gardens, where your walk will begin. Your guide will share an informative collection of stories as you head toward Citadel Hill, which offers panoramic city and harbor views. Tea or coffee and crumpets will be served within these ancient fortifications before continuing to St. Paul’s, Canada’s oldest Protestant church.

Stroll leisurely past City Hall, Parade Square, Province House and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia before concluding at the waterfront enclave of historic properties.

You may continue on and explore this colorful area before returning by shuttle bus to your Crystal ship.


Havre-Saint Pierre-Havre-St-Pierre by Foot
Accompanied by a local guide, embark on a walking tour of Havre-St-Pierre, with a chance to visit the Roland-Jomphe museum and the town’s interpretation center for a better understanding of the area’s Acadian roots.  Meet your guide at the pier and set out on foot to explore Havre-St-Pierre, savoring the delights of a town rich in French history and proud of its beautiful, natural setting.

Founded in 1857 by six fishing families from Iles-de-la-Madeleine, Havre-St-Pierre was originally known as Pointe-aux-Esquimaux. In 1927, the village was renamed Havre-St-Pierre in honor of St. Pierre, the patron saint of fishermen. You will learn how for many years, the trades of fishing, hunting and timber milling were the town’s economic mainstays. Today, mining is the main source of employment.

Your walking tour offers a glimpse of local daily life and a look back in history. A highlight is your visit to the Roland-Jomphe museum, an old general store that houses a permanent exhibit time-lining the story of Havre-St-Pierre from its founding to the present day. Conveniently located near the port area is the interpretation center, where you will have time to gain insights into the local traditions as part of either an independent or guided tour.

Following your 90-minute walking discovery, return by foot to your Crystal ship.


Regardless of leaves turning or not, though hurricanes, airline delays, lost luggage and emergency medical situations, we always figure out how to make the best of any given travel situation.  Our Crystal Fall Foliage cruise will be no exception. And by ‘make the best’ I mean make it epic.

Flickr photo by Jim Sorbie