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New England is famous for its colorful fall foliage, which draws thousands of visitors (or “leaf peepers,” as they’re affectionately known) to every corner of its diverse landscape each year. It seems that most of these tourists line country roads and flock to hilly foliage hotspots to admire the fall colors, but a lesser number know to take advantage of New England’s many bodies of water for foliage cruises, which often offer even more spectacular views that are only accessible by boat. Here’s a list of sixteen New England cruises that promise to give you a new perspective on classic fall foliage. The list includes jaunts along rugged shorelines, journeys up and down rivers, and treks across mountain-lined lakes.
Pam Bliss (User submitted)
Guide to New England Foliage Cruises
New England Cruises: Coastal Bay & Harbor Cruises
Acadian Boat Tours | Bar Harbor, Maine
Experience Acadia National Park from the water with Acadian Boat Tours, who offer daily Sightseeing/Nature Cruises that explore the Acadian coast, as well as a special Somes Sound Cruise, which takes visitors up through the Somes Sound fjard of Mount Desert Island.
Casco Bay Lines | Portland, Maine
A number of scenic, seaside cruises of varying duration and distance wind through the many islands of Casco Bay, giving participants beautiful views of Mid-Coast Maine’s stunning fall foliage and coastline.
Gansett Cruises | Newport, Rhode Island
Offered several times a day, these cruises will take you through Newport Harbor and around Narragansett Bay. Enjoy the natural scenery and unique views of Newport’s famous mansions while being served Rhode Island culinary specialties, like Del’s Lemonade or stuffed clams.
Maine Windjammer Association | Camden & Rockland, Maine
The Maine Windjammer Association is a group of sailing ships whose members specialize in multi-day tours of the Mid-Coast Maine region. In the fall, a number of these ships offer special foliage cruises, through which you’ll not only experience Maine’s natural beauty, but also learn a thing or two about sailing!
New England Cruises: River Cruises
Damariscotta River Cruises | Damariscotta, Maine
Experience the beauty of autumn on the Damariscotta River with a narrated tour, complete with hot apple cider.
Essex Cruises | Essex, Massachusetts
Enjoy donuts and hot apple cider while cruising up the Essex River towards expansive salt marshes and coastal islands. This cruise offers a unique view of a tidal estuary in the fall.
Northfield Mountain Recreation & Environmental Center | Northfield, Massachusetts
Hop aboard the Quinnetukut II and take a cruise down the beautiful Connecticut River, which is sure to show a full spectrum of fall colors.
Portsmouth Harbor Cruises | Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Start in the busy harbor of Portsmouth and travel down the Piscataqua River before setting out towards the Great Bay or Cocheco River.
Riverquest Cruises | Haddam, Connecticut
Take in the colorful fall foliage that lines the shores of the Connecticut River from the comfort of a boat.
New England Cruises: Lake Cruises
Cruise Mount Washington | Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire
The huge M/S Mount Washington sails from port to port around Lake Winnipesaukee, giving its passengers stunning views of lakeside foliage and nearby mountains.
Katahdin Cruises | Moosehead Lake, Maine
The Katahdin, a 1914 steamboat, transports her passengers back in time while sailing along the shores of Maine’s largest lake.
Rangeley Region Lakes Cruises | Rangeley Lake, Maine
Daily fall cruises offer views of nearby mountains and the beautiful foliage of northwestern Maine.
Spirit of Ethan Allen | Lake Champlain, Vermont
The Spirit of Ethan Allen III presents passengers with views of Burlington and the sprawling Lake Champlain. Sunsets on the lake are particularly breathtaking!
Sunapee Cruises | Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire
Take a narrated tour of Lake Sunapee while enjoying the beautiful lakeside foliage.
Whistling Man Schooner Company | Lake Champlain, Vermont
For a more intimate cruising experience, hop aboard this cozy, wind-driven schooner and sail Lake Champlain.
Did we miss your favorite foliage cruise? Let us know!
This post was first published in 2016 and has been updated.
MORE NEW ENGLAND FOLIAGE:
Fall Foliage Train Tours in New England
10 Places to Visit in New England in Fall
Best Corn Mazes in New England
Prettiest Fall Foliage Villages in Vermont
Best Apple Orchards in New England
5 Best Pumpkin Festivals in New England