Last updated: 01:00 AM ET, Thu September 10 2015

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  • Amber Nolan | September 10, 2015 1:00 AM ET

    6 Can't-Miss Cruises for Fall

    6 Can't-Miss Cruises for Fall

    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

    Now that Labor Day has passed, autumn is on the horizon and now can be an excellent time to cruise to several alluring destinations. California, Germany, and New England are just a few of the areas that are ideal to visit in the fall. Here are six cruise options that offer fall foliage, an unusual experience, or a climate ideal for cruising.

    Coastal California

    Harvest season in California’s wine country takes place in September and October, and Royal Caribbean has a seven-night cruise that lets visitors port-hop along California’s coast. The Jewel of the Seas departs Los Angeles on October 3 and heads to Santa Barbara, which boasts more than 120 wineries and vineyards, followed by an overnight in San Francisco. The ship also calls in Monterey, and there’s even a winery tour excursion in Mexico’s fertile Calafia Valley region during the stop in Ensenada.

    Germany’s Oktoberfest

    Viking’s 10-day, “Elegant Elbe” river cruise tour begins in Berlin, the lively city that celebrates Oktoberfest through Oct. 18 with food stands, carnival rides, and plenty of beer. After passengers tour the nearby Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam, the ship embarks from Magdeburg. Next is a visit to the city of Dresden, which kicks off its Oktoberfest the last week in September and first week in October. While onboard, passengers can watch the striking scenery and cliff bluffs of the Saxon Switzerland region as well as the fall colors of the hillsides surrounding the river. Tours of Hradcany Castle and a walking tour of Prague in the Czech Republic are also bundled into the itinerary. Several sailing dates are available throughout October (and into November) on numerous Viking ships.

    Silversea’s Fall Foliage Cruise

    Photo courtesy of Silversea Cruises

    Ultra luxury line Silversea Cruises has a 10-night cruise from New York City to Montreal at the peak time for fall foliage. The all-suite Silver Whisper sets sail Oct. 5 and will traverse the Cape Cod Canal en route to Boston and Portland. Next it crosses into Canadian territory with a stop in St. John, New Brunswick and Halifax, Nova Scotia. While all of these stops are typical of most New England cruises, this voyage also visits lesser-known ports like the Sept-îles, known for its fascinating Innu community, as well as the Saguenay Fjord, home to numerous whales, nature hikes, and other outdoor experiences.

    Lake Michigan on a Tall Sailing Ship

    Each September, the Tall Ship Manitou takes a break from its day cruises on the Grand Traverse Bay to offer a handful of overnight trips. Several four- to six-night options are available including the stargazer cruise and the Michigan craft brew cruise. Onboard the rustic 24-passenger ship, meals are prepared in the wood-fired stove; accommodations are traditional cabin bunks; and ports of call are the opposite of those on a larger cruise ship itineraries. The ship may call on historic fishing villages such as St. James on Beaver Island or visit one of Michigan ‘s oldest general stores in Old Mission Harbor. Hiking, beachcombing, and exploring lighthouses might also find a way on the free-spirited itinerary.

    Ireland, Scotland, England

    Although the fall foliage isn’t as pronounced as New England, parts of the U.K.’s countryside see a gentle dusting of color that pops against a backdrop of evergreen trees. Fred Olsen’s 800-passenger Boudicca sets sail Oct. 6 from Newcastle, U.K., on an 11-night voyage through England, Scotland, and Ireland. The “Myths and Legends” cruise includes highlights like Kirkwall, in Scotland’s Orkney Islands, Belfast in Northern Ireland, and Portsmouth, England – the U.K.’s only island city.

    Panama Canal in Late Fall

    Several ships offer full transits of the Panama Canal in late fall (during the Caribbean cruise shoulder season) leaving from Los Angeles or South Florida. The Coral Princess departs L.A. on Nov. 22 for a 15-day cruise over Thanksgiving to Fort Lauderdale. Ideal for guests who like days at sea (there are nine total), the voyage also includes lesser-visited ports like Aruba, San Juan Del Sur in Nicaragua, and Puntarenas in Costa Rica. 


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Amber Nolan Captain’s Blog: Cruise Tips and Advice

Amber Nolan Amber Nolan loves to be on the water, and although she enjoys the fun and excitement of larger cruise ships, she prefers setting sail on smaller vessels to unique destinations. Originally from western New York, this restless traveler has a knack for finding creative ways to travel and befriending interesting characters along the way. On her most recent adventure, she hitchhiked on private aircraft across the United States. She previously served as the cruise editor at Sherman’s Travel but her work can also be found on and USA Today Travel. She current resides in South Florida.
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