Sydney cruises

Off the east coast of Canada lies a group of large islands which make up the region of Nova Scotia. The port of Sydney is located along a long waterway, creating Canada’s ocean gateway to Cape Breton Island.

Sydney is the historic capital and the largest urban conurbation of Cape Breton. The stunning coastline and panoramic vistas will make you gasp at their magnificence. But for those who enjoy a more urban experience, the city itself will not disappoint.

Sights and sounds

When you disembark at the port, prepare to stand back in amazement as you are confronted by the world’s largest fiddle, ‘Fidheal Mhor A’ Ceilidh’. Make sure you have your camera ready for a photo with this giant icon before you begin your onshore adventure. The fiddle carries two messages, a reminder of the cultural concerts and performances held regularly in the Joan Harris Cruise Pavilion where it stands over 50 feet high, and it's a nod to the Celtic ancestry of the area.

For a more in-depth experience of the local culture, you could walk around the colonial town of Old Sydney. Intriguing sites include St Patrick’s, the oldest Roman Catholic Church in Cape Breton, Cossit House, built in 1787, and Jost House, also built in the 18th century. While walking from site to site, you will find the homemade refreshments in the local cafés make for a welcome pit stop.

On the beautiful lakes of Bras d’Or, in the nearby village of Baddeck, is the Alexander Graham Bell Museum. Bell visited here in 1885 and fell in love with the landscape because it reminded him so much of his Scottish homeland. He returned the following year and built his summer residence, Beinn Bhreagh (Beautiful Mountain), a haven for him and his family. He and his wife are actually buried on the site. The house is still a private residence owned by the family and can be seen from the grounds of the museum. Exhibits include many genuine artefacts donated by his descendants.

Centuries ago, Celts from both Ireland and Scotland crossed the sea to make their home in Nova Scotia which translates as ‘New Scotland’. To this day, fiddle and pipe playing, Irish folk songs and ceilidh dancing are part of the Cape Breton culture. The informal gatherings of song, music, dance and storytelling are a regular occurrence to keep the community’s historical Celtic roots alive.

Nature and wildlife

There are almost 5000 miles of coastline in Nova Scotia, so it is hardly surprising to learn that it has some of the most stunning beaches in the world. Sea birds abound in their thousands and more than 12 species of whales visit throughout the summer and autumn. During your cruise you may even spot finback and minke whales as well as dolphins.

Excursions

Please note: The shore excursions listed are typical for this port. The full programme of shore excursions available for your cruise will be displayed on Cruise Personaliser at least 12 weeks prior to departure.

  • The Fortress of Louisbourg

    Live, if only for the day, in the year 1744 as you cross the ramparts to Louisbourg fortified French colonial town.

    The Fortress of Louisbourg

    You’ll drive south across pristine Cape Breton Island, crossing over the Mira River, which is the longest navigable river in Nova Scotia.

    Fortress Louisbourg is a living museum, a faithful recreation of a 250 year old town and North America’s largest historical reconstruction. The original fortress, constructed between 1720 and 1740 was one of the most extensive and expensive fortifications ever to be built in North America, and one of France's key centres of trade and military strength in the New World.

    Upon arrival, a brief guided tour will provide an introduction to the fortress, after which you are free to explore independently and visit the workshops. Mingle with costumed characters such as a Compagnies Franches soldier, and witness the smoke and noise during a musket firing demonstration. A kitchen servant offers a glimpse into her life serving the elite and will show you how hot chocolate, one of the favourite treats of Louisbourg’s high society, was prepared. In the heritage gardens, meet the gardener and discover the 18th century plant life and herbs that were used for medicinal purposes.

    This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. This tour includes walking over varying terrain, which includes uneven, and gravel surfaces and slight inclines. Guests will be required to stand whilst visiting the workshops. Flat, comfortable shoes are recommended.

    Tour code

    YQY_006

    Features

    • Activity medium

      Activity Level: Medium

    • Shopping

      Shopping

    Duration

    4 hours

  • Cabot Trail Views & Baddeck

    Admire the scenic foothills of the Cabot Trail and enjoy a stop at the charming town of Baddeck.

    Cabot Trail Views & Baddeck

    Sweeping vistas, winding roads and pristine beauty; these are the heart and soul of Cape Breton.

    Your hour long journey will meander along part of the foothills of the famous Cabot Trail, through verdant valleys with some breathtaking scenery. A short stop will be made at two viewpoints, where you can admire the lovely views of the Gulf of St Lawrence and St Ann’s Bay.

    Your journey will bring you to Baddeck, a charming tourist town that was once the summer residence of the famous inventor Alexander Graham Bell. Upon arrival, you can enjoy a guided walk along the town’s waterfront boardwalk, where the Bras d’Or Lakes gently lap the shoreline. In the distance, catch sight of the Bell mansion, where you may also be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the Bald Eagles flying high above.

    Afterwards, you’ll have some free time to browse the quaint shops and perhaps purchase a souvenir. Your return drive will take you along the same route, allowing you to enjoy the Cabot Trail foothills once more before arriving back at the pier.

    This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. This tour offers views of the Cabot Trail foothills only. This tour involves around 1½ hours of walking over varying terrain, which includes some uneven surfaces and slight inclines. Flat, comfortable shoes are recommended. The time spent in Baddeck is subject to local conditions on the day.

    Tour code

    YQY_010

    Features

    • Activity medium

      Activity Level: Medium

    • Shopping

      Shopping

    Duration

    4 hours

  • Alexander Bell Museum

    Discover the fascinating museum of Alexander Graham Bell, dedicated to his life and works.

    Alexander Bell Museum

    Embark on a scenic drive through rolling green hills reminiscent of Scotland, passing Boularderie Island and the landmark Seal Island Bridge.

    Upon arrival at the Alexander Graham Bell Museum, you’ll have the opportunity to explore at your own leisure and discover the remarkable life of Dr Bell. Artifacts, audio visual programs and photographs portray his story. Discover how air and water captured Dr Bell’s imagination and how ideas led him to transmit sound on light and create a treadle-powered sound recording device, man-carrying kites, airplanes and a record-setting hydrofoil boat. From the rooftop you can see Bell's 37 room estate ‘Beinn Breagh’ (Gaelic for beautiful mountain).

    Your return drive will allow you to enjoy the surrounding scenery once more, before returning to the pier.

    This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. The journey time is approximately one hour each way. The time at the museum is around two hours.

    Tour code

    YQY_002

    Features

    • Activity medium

      Activity Level: Medium

    Duration

    4 hours

  • Heart of the Island

    Take a picture-perfect drive through the heart of the Bras d'Or Lakes region and visit the Highland Village.

    Heart of the Island

    Your scenic drive will take you through the heart of the Bras d'Or Lakes region of Cape Breton. The Bras d'Or Lakes is one of the largest salt-water lakes in Canada and stretches out over 450 square miles.

    You will continue onto the Iona Peninsula, located in the centre of Cape Breton, to the Highland Village, a living history museum and cultural centre that celebrates the Gaelic experience in Nova Scotia. Step back to a bygone era, as you stroll around the 43-acre hillside overlooking the Bras d'Or Lakes. The village is studded with period buildings, including houses, a mill, a forge, a store and a church - all representative of a Gaelic community from the late 1700's to the end of the 1800's.

    Meander through the village and enjoy demonstrations by the costumed guides, showcasing the art of weaving, quilting and rug hooking. Discover Nova Scotia's rich Scottish Gaelic cultural history and learn a little Gaelic from the friendly and knowledgeable staff. Cape Breton is the only place in North America where Gaelic is still spoken, a legacy of those who arrived here from the highlands of Scotland. Thigibh air chéilidh or as they say in English - come and visit!

    This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. Guests will have approximately 1½ hours at the Highland Village. The village is situated on a hill and the terrain is rough and uneven. Flat, comfortable shoes are recommended.

    Tour code

    YQY_004

    Features

    • Activity medium

      Activity Level: Medium

    Duration

    3½ hours

  • Sydney Sights & Harbour Duck Tour

    Discover the sights of Sydney from land and sea aboard an amphibious Duck vehicle.

    Sydney Sights & Harbour Duck Tour

    Step aboard an amphibious duck, originally created for use as military ship-to-shore transport during World War II. Today, they are used as a great way to see the local sights from both land and water.

    Your Duck will take you through the streets of Sydney before splashing into the natural harbour. Hear informative commentary on the colourful local history, as you view Sydney from a unique vantage point.

    Back on dry land; admire more of the local sights before returning to the ship.

    This excursion will operate by amphibious duck. There is limited walking during this tour, but guests must be able to negotiate 12 steps when boarding the Duck. Please note the ride may be bumpy. Please hold hand railings and remain seated when entering and exiting the water portion of the tour. In the event of small craft warnings, the water portion of the tour may have to be cancelled. The Duck is open air with partial cover, therefore it is recommended to carry a light jacket in case of inclement or cold weather. The advertised itinerary may operate in reverse.

    Tour code

    YQY_012

    Features

    • Activity low

      Activity Level: Low

    Duration

    1 hour

  • Leisurely Sydney

    Take in the highlights of Sydney, the largest town on Cape Breton Island, with a rich and colourful history.

    Leisurely Sydney

    Sit back and relax on a scenic drive that will take you past many of Sydney's treasured buildings. You’ll see Victoria Park, the site of the original garrison camp, before continuing downtown where a short photograph stop will be made at Wentworth Park.

    Afterwards, you’ll head to the Whitney Pier Historical Museum. Built around a steel plant and housed in a former Jewish synagogue, the museum is dedicated to preserving the legacy and culture of the 55 different ethnic groups that settled here and made Sydney their home. Enjoy a traditional oatcake and tea as you view the photographs, newspaper clippings, and artefacts that reflect the area's diverse, rich culture.

    Your drive back to the pier will pass by the Melting Pot Memorial and the community of Membertou, a modern day blueprint for all aboriginal communities in North America.

    This excursion will operate by coach. This tour involves around 30 minutes of walking. Guests must be able to negotiate steps onto and off the coach.

    Tour code

    YQY_009

    Features

    • Activity low

      Activity Level: Low

    • Refreshments included

      Refreshments included

    Duration

    2 hours

  • The Cabot Trail

    Get a taste of this famous scenic road as you travel along a portion of the Atlantic shore from the port of Sydney to Ingonish Beach.

    The Cabot Trail

    The east coast route you will follow reveals vistas that inspired Alexander Graham Bell to observe, "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."

    Sit back, relax and admire the changing scenes as you travel to St Ann's Look Off. During your drive, your guide will offer an insight into the long and interesting history of the Cabot Trail, named after explorer, John Cabot who discovered the island. Upon arrival to St Ann’s Look Off, a photograph stop will be made for you to stretch your legs and take in the spectacular surrounding scenery.

    Next, you’ll head to Keltic Lodge where a delicious buffet luncheon will be served. Situated in an idyllic coastal location, the Keltic is surrounded by wonderful scenery and breathtaking views of the Cape Smokey Mountain.

    Afterwards, enjoy the short drive to Ingonish Beach for a photograph stop and then from here, you’ll retrace your steps along the same route for the return drive to Sydney.

    This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. This tour will follow the east coast portion of the CaboT Trail only. This tour is a scenic drive and is predominantly by coach with photograph stops. This tour involves some winding roads and may affect those who suffer from travel sickness. It is advisable to take the necessary precautions. Walking is at guests’ leisure throughout, however there are approximately six steps to negotiate at the restaurant. Flat, comfortable shoes are recommended.

    Tour code

    YQY_011

    Features

    • Activity medium

      Activity Level: Medium

    • Meal included

      Meal Included

    Duration

    7 hours

  • Old Sydney Walking Tour

    Enjoy a leisurely guided walking tour of historic Sydney.

    Old Sydney Walking Tour

    Your costumed guide will host you on a leisurely stroll to visit Sydney’s most historic sights. As you meander along the Esplanade, admire the numerous monuments and plaques that commemorate some of the city's famous people and events.

    Your first stop is at St Patrick's Church, erected in 1828. The Gothic Revival style stone building is the oldest standing Roman Catholic Church in eastern Nova Scotia. Today the church is a museum that houses a collection of artefacts from the early days of Sydney. Your tour continues with a visit to the colonial residence of Jost House, one of the oldest remaining wooden buildings in Sydney. The basement has been restored to its original 18th century kitchen, complete with a cooking fireplace and a separate beehive bake-oven.

    Just a short walk away is Cossit House, the oldest house in Sydney. Fully restored and filled with authentic 18th century furniture and artefacts, it looks much the same today as it did when it was built in 1785. Here you can sample traditional oatcakes and tea before heading back to the ship.

    This tour is conducted solely on foot, so flat comfortable shoes are recommended.

    Tour code

    YQY_007

    Features

    • Activity medium

      Activity Level: Medium

    • Refreshments included

      Refreshments included

    Duration

    2 hours

  • Old Sydney Walk & Fudge Making

    Take a leisurely guided walking tour of historic Sydney, with the added experience of fudge making!

    Old Sydney Walk & Fudge Making

    Meet your costumed guide at the pier and set off on a leisurely walk through Sydney to discover the highlights and history. As you meander along the Esplanade, look out for the numerous monuments and plaques that commemorate some of the city's famous people and events.

    It’s then time to try your hand at fudge making as you arrive at the Cape Breton Fudge Company. The company produces sumptuous real butter and cream fudge and prides itself on its variety of flavours. After your fudge making experience, you’ll be presented with a ½ lb sample of fudge to take home as a souvenir.

    To round off your tour, a stop will be made at the landmark building of the Bank of Montréal, where a cup of tea and traditional oatcake will be offered, before heading back to the ship.

    This tour is conducted solely on foot, so flat, comfortable shoes are recommended.

    Tour code

    YQY_013

    Features

    • Activity medium

      Activity Level: Medium

    • Refreshments included

      Refreshments included

    Duration

    2 hours

  • Cape Breton Mine Experience

    Go underground and discover first-hand what an actual coal mine is really like. The Miner's Museum in Glace Bay is a unique experience.

    Cape Breton Mine Experience

    The shores of the Atlantic Glace Bay, at its peak, had the world's largest underground coal mining operation. Coal mining on Cape Breton began over 250 years ago when the French needed fuel to construct the Fortress of Louisbourg.

    As you step out onto the picturesque 15 acre site surrounding The Miner's Museum, it is hard to imagine that beneath the wild roses, tall grasses and the modern museum building lays an authentic coal mine. After a brief orientation, you’ll be handed helmets and raincoats before going down into the mine. Retired coal miners will accompany you on this 20 minute tour. Listen to their fascinating tales and discover what it was really like to extract coal for only 80 cents a day. Returning to the surface, you can explore the exhibit area where you will learn of the trials and tribulations of being a coal miner.

    This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. This tour is not recommended for guests who suffer from claustrophobia. This tour involves walking over rough and uneven terrain. Flat, non-slip shoes are advised.

    Tour code

    YQY_005

    Features

    • Activity medium

      Activity Level: Medium

    • Shopping

      Shopping

    Duration

    3 hours