Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
Aug 26, 2020
Arrives 08:00 AM
Departs 06:00 PM
In Partnership With AFAR
Sydney is the largest city on Cape Breton Island, which is linked by causeway to the rest of Nova Scotia. Sydney’s attractions start at the harbor, where visitors can shop for locally made crafts and see the world’s largest fiddle, which towers beside the port’s cruise pavilion. Some of the city’s historic houses and churches date back to the 1700s and 1800s and are open for tours. Restaurants often provide live music (expect fiddles and sea chanteys) along with meals of seafood fresh-caught in nearby waters. Sydney’s galleries give visitors a chance to meet local artists and purchase their work.
Cape Breton's natural wonders include the spectacular scenic drive known as the Cabot Trail. Hikers in Cape Breton Highlands National Park will find stunning vistas around every turn, while a boat ride on massive Bras d’Or Lake, which is ringed by wild hills, offers a different perspective on the province. Explore the region’s past with a visit to the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site, and learn about the area’s First Nations communities at Membertou Heritage Park. If you decide to go deep underground at the Cape Breton Miners Museum, your tour guide is likely to be a man who toiled for years in the island's coal mines and has many stories to tell. Another must-see: the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site, where the famous inventor made his summer home.
Sample Port Activities
Relive History at the Fortress of Louisbourg
Starting At $99
Start your journey with an introduction to the port of Sydney and a panoramic drive through the historic North End.
Step back in time to 1744 and experience the Fortress of Louisbourg -- the largest fortified town outside of Europe. Louisbourg was once a thriving seaport and capital of Île Royale (Cape Breton Island) -- the third-busiest harbor in North America and one of France's key centers of trade and military strength in the New World. Situated along a rocky Atlantic coastline, the site now serves as an exciting and entertaining lesson in Canadian, American, French and British history.
You’ll see a selection of buildings and exhibits as costumed actors re-enact the lives of specific individuals residing here during the pre-siege era. Experience the life of a military officer as you visit the home of Captain and Madame DeGannes. Discuss household duties with the servant in the Engineer’s Residence and discover some tip and tricks for open-hearth cooking (which every domestic cook needs to know of course). Wander up to the spectacular chapel in the King’s Bastion. Stop and talk to a soldier about his guard duty, living conditions, security and (most interestingly) diet.
Notes: Tour requires a considerable amount of walking. Wear comfortable walking shoes and dress warmly; bring a jacket or windbreaker.
Baddeck & the Alexander Graham Bell Museum
Starting At $84
Begin your tour with a brief introduction to Sydney. Hear about the city's founders and the industries that developed in this area as you drive through the historic North End. Follow the Trans-Canada Highway to the picturesque resort village of Baddeck -- a panoramic drive with views of Boulanderie Island, the Seal Island Bridge, and the Great Bras d'Or Channel as well as Kelly's Mountain and St Ann's Bay. Visit the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site, situated on the shores of the beautiful Bras d'Or Lakes in the heart of Cape Breton Island. Alexander Graham Bell spent most of the last 32 years of his life on this inlet of the lovely Bras d'Or. At the Alexander Graham Bell Museum, you'll discover and learn about the many outstanding accomplishments of the man best known for the invention of the telephone. Bell made remarkable contributions in the fields of medicine, genetics, electricity, sound and speech, as well as aeronautics and marine engineering. The museum houses an extensive collection of artifacts contributed by the Bell family.
Notes: Travel time from the port of Sydney to Baddeck is 1¼ hours each way.
A Walk through Old Sydney Town
Starting At $39
Join a costumed guide on this relaxed walking tour through Old Sydney -- the part of the city that was settled by loyalists fleeing the American Revolution of 1785. You'll visit four museums -- St Patrick's, the oldest Roman Catholic Church at Cape Breton; Cossit House, built in 1787; Jost House, offering interesting exhibits from several historical periods; and the Cape Breton Centre for Heritage & Science. A light refreshment of tea and traditional Scottish oatcakes will be served.
Notes: Wear comfortable walking shoes. Guests who wish to stay in town to shop or explore independently are welcome to do so, but must return to the ship on their own.
A Taste of the Cabot Trail
Starting At $159
The Cabot Trail, deemed one of the most scenic drives in North America, will take you from the Atlantic shoreline and into the Cape Breton's Highland National Park. A drive from the port of Sydney to the fishing village of Ingonish reveals the picturesque vistas which inspired Alexander Graham Bell to say, "I have travelled around the globe. I have seen the Canadian and American Rockies, the Andes and the Alps, and the Highlands of Scotland but for simple beauty, Cape Breton outrivals them all." Drive over Kelly's Mountain and the Cape Smokey Mountains toward the national park, pausing for a break at the Gaelic College. Visit Bell's favorite beach and view the great granite cliffs of Middle Head Peninsula. Enjoy a buffet lunch at a local restaurant before returning to Sydney.
The Bra's d'Or Lakes: Heart of the Island
Starting At $189
Journey to the very heart of Cape Breton Island and enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the famous Bras d'Or Lakes.
The first stop on your circuit is at the geographic center of Cape Breton Island, where you'll visit the Nova Scotia Highland Village -- a 50-acre living history museum overlooking the Bras d'Or Lakes. Take a chronological journey through 180 years of Cape Breton's Scottish architecture, hosted by costumed guides well versed in conversational Gaelic and local history. Your next destination is the village of Baddeck, home of Alexander Graham Bell -- inventor of the telephone and, understandably, Cape Breton's most famous resident. Make the most of some free time for shopping and sightseeing in the village before a brief stop at the Alexander Graham Bell Museum. Here you can view the world's most extensive collection of Bell artifacts.
Notes: Wear comfortable walking shoes.
The Bird Islands of Cape Breton: Puffins, Seals & Eagles
Starting At $149
The scenery along the Trans-Canada Highway leading to Bras d'Or includes stunning panoramic views. At the entrance to the great Bras d'Or channel, you will discover the beautiful Bird Islands. Rising from the sea like rocky pillars, these islands are the nesting grounds for thousands of seabirds -- razorbills, kittiwakes, bald eagles, and more than 300 pairs of Atlantic puffins. Board a boat for a 2½-hour educational, interactive and cultural narrated cruise. You can capture the changing seasons and ever-busy wildlife with your camera as you learn about the nesting habits of seabirds, the life of the grey seal, sea caves and other local folklore on this informative half-day excursion. Although wildlife varies with the seasons, there is always something to see. A boxed lunch will be served, containing a sandwich, applesauce and a granola bar. At the end of your cruise, stop for a quick browse at the nature-themed gift shop located on site.
Notes: Travel time from the port of Sydney to Baddeck is 1¼ hours each way. Wear warm layered clothing; bring a windproof jacket, a hat and gloves. Wildlife sightings are likely but are not guaranteed. Atlantic puffins migrate for the season around August 21.
The birds listed below are best seen in the following seasons:
Atlantic puffin - May 10 to August 21
Razorbill - May 10 to mid-August
Black-legged kittiwake - May 10 - late July
Great cormorant - May 10 to early October
Black guillemot - May 10 - mid-August
Bald eagle - May 25 to late September
Great black-backed gull - May 10 to late September
Herring gull - May 10 to late September
Double crested cormorant - May 10 to early October
Grey seals - May 25 to end of October
Sailing on the Bras d'Or Lakes
Starting At $159
Begin with a brief introduction to Sydney. Hear about the city's founders and the industries that developed in this area, and relax on a panoramic drive through the historic North End. You’ll follow the Trans-Canada Highway to the picturesque resort village of Baddeck, situated on the shores of the beautiful Bras d'Or Lakes in the heart of Cape Breton Island. Along the way, enjoy stunning panoramic views of Boulanderie Island, the Seal Island Bridge and the Great Bras d'Or Channel as well as Kelly's Mountain and St Ann's Bay. Join the captain and crew of the 67-foot staysail schooner Amoeba for a sailing experience as unique and unforgettable as the lakes themselves. These pristine waters boast the world's deepest channel (at more than 900 feet deep). View Cape Breton from the deck of the Amoeba and see Alexander Graham Bell's stately summer mansion. Watch bald eagles wheeling in the sky above you as you take in the beauty of your natural surroundings. After your sailing experience, enjoy some free time for exploring the village of Baddeck.
Notes: Wear warm clothing; bring a jacket or windbreaker. Wildlife sightings are likely but are not guaranteed. Travel time from the port of Sydney to Baddeck is 1¼ hours each way.
Starting At $69
Visit Sydney's business and shopping district and travel its tree-lined streets.
Your guide relates tales of the coal miners and steel workers who have helped shape this historic city since its beginning in 1785. Take advantage of a photo opportunity at Wentworth Park.
Visit the Whitney Pier Museum, dedicated to the many nationalities that founded the region and still have roots that grow deeply in the city. Sample a homemade oatcake, baked from a centuries-old recipe, and enjoy the local warmth and charm of Sydney's people. A drive through the city takes you past historic St Patrick's Church, Jost House and Cosset House -- these are among the oldest surviving buildings in Sydney. Cosset House is actually one of the oldest buildings on Cape Breton Island. Before returning to the ship, enjoy free time on Charlotte Street to browse in the local shops and gallery, where you might pick up a souvenir of your travels.
Spirit of the Fiddle: Kitchen Party Experience
Starting At $64
Experience the musical heritage of Cape Breton -- the Celtic capital of North America. Convene dockside next to the world's tallest fiddle. From here, a bagpiper will pipe you into a private room for an intimate, award-winning musical performance. Learn firsthand about Cape Breton Island's unique twist on traditional Celtic music and the foundations of Cape Breton culture. Internationally-renowned performers will entertain you with lyrical songs of the island, traditional fiddle tunes, and a brief introduction to life and music on the island -- then and now. Kick up your heels and participate in a Cape Breton square set, sing along, clap your hands or stomp your feet as you participate in this ceilidh-style (pronounced "kay-lee", meaning party) experience. It's all about making memories and having fun. Light refreshments are served during the performance -- don't miss trying the traditional Cape Breton oatcakes. For more information visit www.spiritofthefiddle.ca.
Notes: Your cruise may have entertainment on board that incorporates a fiddle player. Music and culture enthusiasts will nonetheless enjoy listening to the talented local fiddlers in Sydney.
Baddeck on Your Own
Starting At $59
Begin with a brief introduction to Sydney as you hear about the city's founders and the industries that developed in this area. Relax as a panoramic drive takes you through the historic North End of Sydney. The route between Sydney and Baddeck is a picturesque drive with views of Boulanderie Island, the Seal Island Bridge, the Great Bras d'Or Channel, Kelly's Mountain and St Ann's Bay. Travel along the Trans-Canada Highway to discover the picturesque resort village of Baddeck, situated on the shores of the beautiful Bras d'Or Lakes in the heart of Cape Breton Island. The diversity of restaurants, attractions and activities makes this one of Canada's finest resort communities. Enjoy free time in the town of Baddeck to visit the many gift shops, galleries, restaurants and maybe even the Bras d'Or Lakes & Watershed Interpretive Centre (all at your own expense).
Notes: Wear comfortable walking shoes.
Hike to Uisage Ban Falls
Starting At $114
Begin your tour with an introduction to Sydney and a panoramic drive through the historic North End. Your guide will tell you about the city's founders and the industries that developed in the area. Travel along the Trans-Canada Highway to discover the picturesque resort village of Baddeck, situated on the shores of the beautiful Bras d'Or Lakes in the heart of Cape Breton Island. The route between Sydney and Baddeck is a picturesque drive with views of Boulanderie Island, the Seal Island Bridge, the Great Bras d'Or Channel, Kelly's Mountain and St Ann's Bay. From Baddeck it’s a 10-minute drive to the Uisage Ban (White Waters) Falls Trail. Set out on the moderate trail hike to the falls -- about three miles long (5km). The trail will take you through some of the oldest forests in the province, with 200-year-old birch and maple trees as your companions. Interpretive panels, benches and bridges dot the trail en route to the 50-foot falls.
Notes: Tour operates rain or shine. Wear hiking/trail shoes. Travel time from the port of Sydney to the trailhead is 90 minutes each way.