The Port of Montreal is conveniently located in Old Montreal. As your ship sails into port you will get your first glimpse of the city’s beautiful skyline. With concierge services located in the new cruise terminal, passengers can leave their luggage and get right to exploring the city. It is less than a 15-minute walk to downtown, however the Old Port has so much to see and do you might find yourself wandering the cobblestone streets for a few hours. Montreal is a very walkable city but also has an easy to navigate Metro system which makes the entire city accessible.
Cruising season in Montreal is currently May through October, although winter cruises offerings may be in Montreal’s near future. A word of advice — despite the fact that the most popular months to cruise in or out of Montreal are September and October because everyone wants to see the fall foliage, you might opt to cruise earlier in the summer during July or August. The weather is usually better in the summer months, plus there is so much to do. There are a whole slew of festivals to attend, you can dine outside on the open-air terraces and Montreal is much less crowded than it will be in the fall.
Before you board your cruise ship in Montreal (or after you disembark) consider spending a few days exploring this cosmopolitan city.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
There are dozens of magnificent hotel choices within walking distance, or a short taxi ride from the cruise port terminal. Among the most luxurious are the Hotel Birks, the Four Seasons and the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth.
For the ultimate in convenience, location and luxury try the freshly renovated Fairmont the Queen Elizabeth Hotel located in the heart of downtown Montreal. The hotel is adjacent to the Montreal’s central train station, making Quebec City only a three-hour train ride away.
Make a reservation for one of the new luxurious Fairmont Gold rooms. Located on the top three floors of the hotel, they all have access to an exclusive lounge on the top floor where you will experience panoramic views of the city while you enjoy breakfast in the morning or a cocktail in the afternoon.
The new prestigious Hotel Birks has 132 rooms all with extraordinarily high ceilings, large windows, and spacious bathrooms. Many even have oversized soaking tubs. Housed in the historic Birks jewelry building, the store is still there but has been reduced in size to accommodate the fantastic Henri Brasserie Française. Dine here even if you don’t stay at the hotel.
The new sophisticated Four Seasons Montreal is more than just a luxury hotel. It has a spa and wellness sanctuary, excellent dining and drinking options, as well as several private residences. Dine at MARCUS for breakfast, lunch or dinner. This not-so-traditional brasserie, located on the 3rd floor with an open terrace, has phenomenal food featuring local seafood. Conversely come back in the evening when the MARCUS Lounge + Bar is open. It has become the place to see and be seen.
Should you need to pick up anything before your cruise, stop into Holt Renfrew Ogilvy. It is conveniently located adjacent to the Four Seasons Hotel. You can actually access right from their lobby. It is a new luxury megastore for women and men is where upscale fashion, beauty and glamour come together in downtown Montréal. This high-end shop is home to brands such as Channel, Tiffany’s, La Mer and unique beauty products and experiences.
Go on a Gourmet Adventure
Québec is a hub of world gastronomy. Known for its delicious maple products, poutine, locally grown products and fresh seafood that come from the regions along the coast.
Beyond the amazing choices for dining in any of these hotels, you will want to get out and sample what else Montreal has to offer. Make a reservation at Monarque. Located in the heart of Old Montréal, it is impressive from the moment you walk through the door. Super stylish and chic, it has a brilliant bar area where a brasserie menu is served and a spectacular dining room, just beyond the open kitchen, with cozy banquettes. They have a superb wine list and dishes to please the most distinguished palettes.
If you are looking for the perfect cup of coffee and an opportunity to catch up on your email before you hit the high seas, grab a seat at the Crew Collective & Cafe in old town. Not only do they serve aromatic local micro-roasted coffees, they also have workspaces that range from comfortable open seating soundproof meeting rooms and private workspaces.
Enjoy the View
For the best panoramic picture of the city, take a seat in Montréal’s Observation Wheel for an unforgettable experience. La Grande Roue offers visitors a breathtaking view of the river, Old Montreal, downtown and the mountains! All of the cabins are fitted with ultra-clear glass windows and either air-conditioning or heat to keep you comfortable no matter the season. If you are looking for a real thrill, book gondola number 42, the only cabin with a glass floor and first-class style leather seats.
Experience AURA, an elaborate sound and light show at the Notre-Dame Basilica. During the presentation the Church is illuminated with special effects and dramatic music that highlight the beauty of the Basilica and it’s heritage. Book tickets and immerse yourself in this awe-inspiring multimedia production.
Meander through the Museums
Montreal is Canada’s cultural capital with over fifty museums. If you only have time to visit one, head to The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) which is located in the historic Golden Square Mile on Sherbrooke Street. The museum is made up of several pavilions which display their huge collection of paintings, photographs, sculptures and art objects. The most impressive of which is the Quebec and Canadian art exhibition.
Cruising from Quebec City
If you end your cruise in Quebec City, consider taking the train back to Montreal (under 3 hrs and very convenient) to spend a few days in the city. The flight choices are much better from Montreal and you would likely have to fly from Quebec City to Montreal and then on to your final destination anyway.
Dana Freeman is originally from New York City but has been calling Vermont home for the last 20 years. She a freelance journalist and the editor behind Dana Freeman Travels. Through her writing, she provides unique destination information, reviews, and travel tips. Dana specializes in cruise, adventure, food, luxury, and multi-generational travel. You won’t find any touristy places on her itinerary. She always prefers the road less traveled and her favorite place to be is on the water.