Halifax, Nova Scotia Cruise Port Guide

A Halifax cruise will bring you to the enchanting capital of Nova Scotia, set on one of the largest natural harbors in the world. Culturally, compact Halifax punches way above its weight. It’s packed with attractions including exciting museums, a fine art gallery, and the oldest farmers’ market in North America. You’ll also find a collection of handsome 18th- and 19th-century buildings, a long waterfront walkway, and a beautiful park.

On a Canada and New England cruise that stops in Halifax, you’ll have a chance to learn more about the naval history here, from imposing 18th-century forts built by the British to the Titanic connection. The city’s Scottish heritage is widely celebrated, too. You’ll be shown around by tour guides dressed in tartan, pointing out statues of Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott. Experience the city’s vibrant live music scene in one of its cozy pubs, where it’s fun to relax with a craft beer and a lobster roll or poutine.

Cruises to Halifax, Nova Scotia

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Top Sights & Attractions on Cruises to Halifax, Nova Scotia

Halifax Citadel National Historic Site

High atop a hill with seemingly infinite views over the city and beyond is the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, a star-shaped fort built by the British. Explore the barracks and the guard room. Time your visit to include midday, so you can see the firing of the Noon Day Gun. True military history enthusiasts can also book a three-hour “Soldier for a Day” experience, in which you can dress in a 19th-century battlefield costume and learn to fire an antique rifle. 

The Museum of Immigration

Between 1928 and 1971, Pier 21 served as an immigration hall that processed over one million immigrants hoping to start a new life in Canada. Now a museum, the space features interactive displays, moving film footage about individual stories, extensive archive material, and a replica railcar. Visitors of immigrant descent can trace their own family’s journey via ships’ rosters. You can also try the Customs Challenge to see what new arrivals would have been allowed to bring to Canada.

Peggy's Cove

Peggy's Cove is a tiny, picture-postcard fishing village on St. Margaret’s Bay along the rugged Atlantic coast, a short drive from Halifax. Peggy’s Cove is especially known for its colorful fishing boats, quaint houses, and stately lighthouse, which dates back to 1915. This brilliant white icon with a red lantern room on top is perched on wave-lashed rocks. The seafood in town is as fresh as can be, so make time to stop for lobster rolls.

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Things to Do in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Stroll the Waterfront

A car-free wooden boardwalk extends two and a half miles along much of the downtown waterfront area. It’s perfect for strolling, cycling, people-watching, and admiring the views across the water. Visit the Historic Properties area, which features three blocks of fine 18th- and 19th-century stone warehouses and wharf buildings. They’ve been carefully renovated and house art galleries and studios, restaurants and bars, and boutique shops.

Visit the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

This fascinating museum houses fascinating collections covering everything from the Age of Steam to archaeological finds from the seabed. One of the most popular exhibits is the poignant Titanic exhibition; Halifax was where the survivors were brought after the 1912 disaster, and where many of the victims are buried. You can also explore the CSS Acadia, a hydrographic vessel that survived both World Wars and the great explosion of 1917.

Explore the Halifax Public Gardens

A handsome example of a formal Victorian garden, the 17-acre Halifax Public Gardens have been open since 1867. Splashing fountains and statues are dotted among colorful flower beds, while waterfowl inhabit the ornamental ponds and 140 species of trees create leafy shade on a hot day. Come here for a picnic, to people-watch, or on a Sunday afternoon to listen to live music at the bandstand. From August onwards, visit to see the dazzling displays of dahlias.

Top Food & Drink in Halifax

Seafood plays an important part in Halifax’s cuisine, as does the city’s Scottish heritage. Look out for creamed lobster, crab cakes, oysters, fish and chips, and East Coast chowder, a creamy stew rich in fresh scallops, haddock, and shrimp. You’ll find the Canadian staple of poutine—fries topped with cheese curds and gravy—everywhere, although Rappie pie may be less familiar. This Nova Scotian comfort dish comprises grated potatoes served with a rich broth with chicken or seafood adding flavor.

Scottish immigrants brought with them a strong culture of brewing, and Alexander Keith’s Brewery is a great place to sample fine craft beers. You’ll also find Nova Scotia wines and ciders produced in the orchards, and Annapolis Valley vineyards near the city. If you’re in the city on a weekend, head for the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market, where artisan producers sell everything from local cheese to organic fruit and fresh oysters.

Culture & History of Halifax

Before it became a major commercial port, Halifax served as a fishing spot for the Mi’kmaq, who referred to the Halifax area as “Jipugtug,” which meant “the biggest harbor.” French settlers arrived in the 17th century, establishing the colony of Acadia and disrupting the peaceful existence of the Mi’kmaq, followed by the British who in 1749 established a colony and numerous fortifications here. Tens of thousands of immigrants were brought across the Atlantic from Ireland and Scotland. Other immigrants came from Germany and the United States.

In 1912, Halifax’s history became inextricably linked with the Titanic disaster, as this is where the survivors and the dead were brought from the scene. Many of those who perished were laid to rest in three of the city’s cemeteries. Halifax endured further disaster in 1917 when, on December 6, two ships collided in the harbor, creating a catastrophic explosion that killed 1,800 and destroyed several buildings.

Today, Halifax is a thriving container and cruise ship port, with a rich culture of music, pubs and cafés, and year-round festivals. It’s especially popular as a cruise destination in fall when the trees in the surrounding countryside are sporting their dazzling colors. You’ll see signage in English and in French here; Canada is officially bilingual, but English is the main language spoken in Nova Scotia.

Halifax Cruise Port Facilities & Location

Cruises to Halifax, Nova Scotia, dock at the Port of Halifax. Bagpipers often provide a lively welcome to cruise ships. After you depart your ship in the cruise port, you’ll walk down covered hydraulic gangways that take you to Pavilion 20 or 22. You’ll find a visitor information center in Pavilion 22, as well as souvenir stalls and restrooms. Right outside is where you’ll meet tour buses and can find taxis. From here, it’s a short walk to the waterfront attractions in Halifax and other downtown sights.

Transportation in Halifax

Getting around Halifax is easy. You can walk along the waterfront right from the cruise terminal, or rent a bicycle. Taxis wait outside the terminal and rideshares operates here. Metro Transit runs bus routes throughout the city and beyond to Bedford, Dartmouth, Halifax, Sackville, Timberlea, and Cole Harbour. The ferry is a great way to get around and enjoy views of the skyline. It takes 15 minutes to cross from the waterfront to Dartmouth and is an enjoyable and affordable way to travel like a local and take in the scenery.

Shopping in Halifax

If you’re in Halifax on a Saturday, you can visit the oldest-running farmer’s market in North America, which is located on Lower Water Street. Pick up souvenirs from here including handmade sea glass jewelry, tins of maple syrup, local wines, and Nova Scotian knitwear.

Otherwise, great things to buy include local art, pottery, Amos pewter, crystal, and beauty products. Packs of cherry-flavored lobster-shaped gummies are a fun and novel trinket to take home for kids.

Local Currency & Tipping Customs

The currency in Halifax is the Canadian dollar. You’ll find plenty of ATMs around the city. Credit cards are also widely accepted in Halifax, though check with the business or taxi driver beforehand if you’re not sure.

Tipping for services is common in Halifax and is expected for dining or taxi rides. The tipping culture in Canada is similar to the United States. A tip of 15% to 20% of the total bill is appropriate for good service in a restaurant, and 10% to 15% for taxi rides.

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