Overview of Montreal Cruises
A cruise to New England and the maritime provinces of Canada often includes sailing along the St. Lawrence Seaway between Montreal and the Atlantic Ocean. In 2016, 39 cruise ships included Montreal as a port of call, with most ships visiting during September and October. Many of these cruise ships debarked and embarked passengers in Montreal, making the city an excellent choice to extend a cruise vacation.
Any time is a great time to plan and extend a cruise in Montreal. The Port of Montreal is currently investing $78 million in restoring its cruise terminal, the Iberville Passenger Terminal, which is located on Alexandra Pier at the foot of McGill Street and within walking distance of Old Montreal. Alexandra Pier is more than a 100-years-old. Iberville Passenger Terminal, remodeled for Expo 1967, has welcomed cruise ships visiting Montreal for decades.
Montreal is a modern metropolitan city but is justifiably proud of its French heritage. Its architecture is fascinating, with a nice mix of historical buildings like the Palladian revival style Custom House at Place Royal, Gothic Revival style Notre-Dame Basilica, and Art deco style Aldred Building seen in the photo above. Montreal is a great city to explore on foot or on the excellent Metro system, and there are plenty of things to do in Montreal that are either free or inexpensive.
Cruise Terminal in Montreal
When the renovations on the Iberville Passenger terminal are completed, both the public and cruise ship passengers will have access to the port area. This concept is similar to that used at Vancouver's Canada Place, and the Port of Montreal expects this new tourist zone to welcome seven million tourists and many more local visitors and residents. The end of the pier will be cleared and lowered so that citizens can have better access to their river. A green rooftop terrace is being added to the terminal, and a contemporary panoramic tower overlooking the river and the city should be completed by 2019.
Like the photo on the previous page, this photo of the cruise terminal was taken from the top of the Pointe-à-Callière Museum in Montreal, which is a museum of archaeology and history that opened in 1992. The museum sits on the archaeological site where the city was founded 375 years ago and offers many fascinating permanent and temporary exhibitions.
Pointe-à-Callière also offers terrific views of the St. Lawrence, the cruise ship port, and the city of Montreal from its rooftop.
Pedestrian Area in Old Town Montreal
The old town of Montreal is a historic area, and many of its streets are narrow or restricted to pedestrian traffic. It's a fun place to shop, stroll, take a self-guided walking tour, visit a museum, or enjoy a drink or a bite to eat in one of the cafes. This area is within walking distance of the cruise ship terminal.
If the weather is inclement, but you still want to walk, check out Montreal's 20 miles of underground passageways that connect many of the downtown buildings as well as lead to the Metro. While walking the 20 miles (or less), you'll find 2000 shops and restaurants, hotels, museums, theaters, and universities.
Montreal City Hall
The five-story City Hall of Montreal (Hotel de Ville de Montreal in French) is the seat of the local government and was constructed between 1872 and 1878. However, a major fire destroyed much of the City Hall in 1922, and it was rebuilt to look like the city hall of Tours in France. Visitors can sign up for a free guided tour of the building.
Chateau Ramezay in Montreal
The Governor of Montreal, Claude de Ramezay, built Chateau Ramezay as a palatial residence in 1705. It was the first building in Montreal to be classified as a historical monument. The Chateau has permanent exhibitions that explore more than 500 years of Canadian and Montreal history and a fascinating garden area.
Jean-Talon Market in Montreal and Other Dining Options
Most large cities have good farmer's markets, and Montreal is no different. The Jean-Talon Market (Marché Jean-Talon in French) is one of the best I've seen in North America, with a delightful mix of tempting fruits, vegetables, and other foods.
Jean-Talon is a fun place to explore, and the surrounding area is filled with good restaurants and food shops selling cheeses, breads, and other tasty treats. It's also mostly frequented by locals rather than tourists, so visitors can get a feel for the people who live in Montreal, not just visit.
Dining in Montreal
Like most cosmopolitan cities, Montreal has terrific restaurants with every cuisine imaginable. Although we were in a Quebec city, we tried a marvelous Italian restaurant in the Little Italy neighborhood of Montreal. Imposto features amazing pasta and other Italian specialties.
Restaurant Holder is in downtown Montreal on McGill Street, and it's a busy place for lunch. This upscale bistro has an excellent selection of salads along with traditional pub food like fish & chips and shepherd's pie. If you want dinner and a view, you might want to get dinner reservations at Le Enfants Terribles, a marvelous restaurant on the 44th floor of Place Ville Marie.
View of Montreal and St. Lawrence River from Mount Royal Park
Those who love to walk or ride bicycles on their visit to Montreal might want to make their way to Mount Royal Park. Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of New York City's Central Park, was the landscape architect of the 470-acre Mount Royal Park, which is Montreal's largest green space.
Many people do not even know that Montreal has a signature mountain that overlooks the downtown area. In reality, Mont Royal is three separate peaks, and the photo above was taken from a viewpoint in the park.
Gardens of Light at the Montreal Botanical Gardens
In September and October of each year, the Montreal Botanical Gardens has a "Gardens of Light" celebration. The timing coincides with the Moon Festival, which is celebrated in many southeast Asian countries. At the "Gardens of Light", the gardens are decorated with all sorts of colorful lanterns of all shapes and sizes.
Since most cruise travelers are in Montreal during this time, be sure to check to see if they will be open during your visit. The Botanical Gardens are excellent anytime, but the lights don't show well until after dark.
Those who would like to spend more time in the area near the Botanical Gardens and Montreal's Olympic Stadium might also want to check out the Montreal Biodome, which is a series of indoor ecological systems with characteristics of a zoo, botanical garden, and aquarium. It is one of Montreal's most popular attractions.
Au Sommet Place Ville Marie - Observation Deck
Viewing Montreal from Mont Royal or from the top of the Pointe-à-Callière Museum is impressive, but if you really want to get a panoramic view, go to the Observation Deck at Au Sommet Place Ville Marie. The 360-degree views from the 47th floor of the Place Ville-Marie skyscraper include information on what you are seeing and the various neighborhoods of this fascinating city on the St. Lawrence.