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On a Newfoundland cruise, allow colorful buildings in a kaleidoscope of hues to welcome you into St. John’s, the capital of the Newfoundland and Labrador province in Canada. At this lovely seaside destination, you’ll discover the unbridled charm of one of North America’s oldest cities while visiting historical landmarks, spotting marine life, and enjoying the view from the easternmost point of the continent. Stroll through its vibrant streets, enjoy its growing and quirky food scene, and take in some of the best views of the Atlantic Ocean you’ve ever encountered.
For amazing views of the ocean and a dose of Newfoundland history, head to St. John’s most popular landmark, the Signal Hill National Historic Site. Go inside Cabot Tower, a building that dates back to 1898, which was erected in honor of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. Learn all about how the first transatlantic wireless message was received within the tower all the way from Cornwall, England in 1901. In the summer, watch a rousing reenactment of a 19th-century British military drill that includes drum calls, muskets, and cannon fire.
Stand at the most easterly point in North America at Cape Spear, where you’ll enjoy scenic vistas of the surrounding ocean and hills. Enjoy the view from atop a craggy cliff, or visit the romantic Cape Spear Lighthouse, which is the oldest surviving lighthouse in the entire province. You might even see icebergs and whales in the distance, too.
Bring your camera along for a stroll around Jellybean Row, a picturesque stretch in St. John’s, where you’ll see colorful rows of houses lining the street. Snap pictures in front of these cheery, rainbow-hued facades that have served as the backdrop of many Canadian tourism ads and television commercials.
On a Newfoundland cruise, learn about local culture and history at The Rooms, a sprawling arts space with an impressive collection of artworks, artifacts, and historical records. This all-encompassing museum was fashioned after a traditional fishing room and features everything from ancient weapons and animal exhibitions to arts and crafts activities for kids and a stunning observation deck with unbeatable views of St. John’s.
For a taste of the wildlife of the area, go on a boat tour off the coast of Newfoundland, where you might see whales, sea birds, and sculptural icebergs during your time on the water. Your chances of spotting a humpback whale are high, as one of the largest feeding grounds for humpback whales is found in Newfoundland and Labrador. Keep your eyes peeled for other species, too, including orcas, minke whales, and dolphins.
Step back in time at Quidi Vidi, a charming little fishing village that is also one of the oldest sections of St. John’s. Eat fresh trout, stop by a local pub, stroll down its quaint waterfront, or go inside the Quidi Vidi Village Plantation, an open arts studio where you can buy local items like handmade textiles and clothing, which make for great travel gifts and souvenirs.
The province of Newfoundland is known for its fresh seafood and wild game. In recent years, St. John’s has attracted the attention of foodies around the country, and one of its restaurants, Raymonds, was recognized as one of Canada’s top restaurants. Stick to the basics and try a plate of delicious fish and chips at Ches’s, a fish and chip shop that has been serving the staple since 1951. Or order the Jiggs’ Dinner, a local meal made of salted beef, boiled cabbage, potatoes, carrots, and a duff pudding.
St. John’s is one of the oldest settlements in all of North America. The first European to visit the province of Newfoundland was Italian explorer John Cabot in 1497. In the following years, both the British and French established a number of colonies in the area, including St. John’s. Due to its prime location and important fishery, the city was a battleground between the English and French. In 1792, the British finally acquired control over St. John’s, and it remained a British colony until it became a part of Canada in 1949.
Today, St. John’s serves as the capital and main commercial center of the Newfoundland and Labrador province. For much of its history, St. John’s economic activity was focused in commercial trading and fishing. Today, most of its financial interests revolve around offshore oil and gas drilling.
On a Newfoundland cruise, you’ll dock at the St. John’s cruise terminal. The terminal is located within walking distance of the city’s downtown, where you’ll find several important destinations such as The Rooms museum and Jellybean Row, as well as many cafes, restaurants, and shops.
Most of St. John’s can be easily explored on foot, but if you prefer public transportation, there are several options including a public bus system, an accessible transit option, and taxis. If you wish, you can also rent a bicycle and pedal your way around the city.
You can squeeze in some shopping near the St. John’s cruise port at downtown’s Water Street, the main shopping area, where you’ll find plenty of specialized boutiques and gift shops to peruse. If you’re looking for an enclosed shopping experience, head to either Avalon Mall or the Village Mall, which are both located just a short car ride away.
The local currency in St. John’s is the Canadian dollar (CAD). Credit cards are accepted widely, but if you prefer to carry cash, you’ll find ATMs throughout the city in grocery stores, malls, and banks. Tipping is customary in Canada, and usually anything from 15% to 20% of gratuity is expected to be added to the total bill if you’ve experienced great service.