Our cruise to Canada and New England – part one

Time to put up a blog post on our lovely cruise to (mostly) new places in Canada and New England!  I could probably do an entire post on how much we despised our red-eye flight out of Seattle to New Jersey… and then the long lay over in NJ, before finally reaching our destination of Quebec City at 2 pm Eastern time, the next day. All in all it was 19 hours from door-to-door, so to speak.  We were unable to sleep on that overnight flight so we arrived totally exhausted.  Oh heck, we knew that red-eye was going to kill us, but in the end it was SO worth it.  We left home on Friday September 16th, arriving in Quebec on Saturday the 17th. The cruise lasted until September 27th.

Here is photo of our ship, Holland America’s Zuiderdam.  The view is from the top of the “old town” in Quebec City.

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This was our third cruise with Holland America and our second cruise on this particular ship. In regards to our cruiseline, we really like HAL. The service is always fabulous, the food quite good, and the other cruisers, nice. To be honest, HAL is not a popular line for folks with kids. Carnival, Disney, and Royal Caribbean have lots of kids on their cruises, and lots of activities catered towards kids. Let’s face it, we kind of like the “no-kids” feel.  Having said that, there were a handful of young children on our cruise and they are certainly allowed to cruise with Holland America, but you just don’t see that many – this is our observation from having done three cruises with them.

Next, I’ll say a word or two about our cabin. In past cruises (we’ve been on 7 now), we’ve always had either an ocean view cabin or a verandah (balcony) cabin. On this cruise we chose an inside cabin, mostly to save money, plus, we’d never had an inside room, so why not give it a try – we thought.  We were surprised at how small the cabin was and we took to calling it our “cubicle”. After a few days, we found we really missed being able to look out and see where we were or what the weather was like. We really missed the verandah for our own little “happy hour”. On past trips, we’ve enjoyed sitting on the verandah, sipping a glass of wine, and watching the world go by. Obviously that was not possible in “the cubicle”.  Take away from this: the extra $$ is worth it, get a verandah cabin!  Here’s a snap of our little room –

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I’ve got to say, our cabin steward was wonderful, in there cleaning the place twice a day and leaving us cute towel animals at night. The bed was extremely comfortable. The bathroom was perfectly adequate. We just wished we had sprung for a larger room with a balcony, in hindsight.

Day two on the ship was our second day in Quebec City. What a gorgeous place! So clean you could eat off the sidewalks! We took a 2.5 hour walking tour that was billed as a “leisurely walk from the top of the old town, down to the lower old town”. Hmmmmm. It didn’t actually turn out that way. We walked up lots of hills and stairs to be able to see everything, there was no time to rest, go potty, or run in somewhere and buy a bottle of water (it was a warm, humid day). We still thoroughly enjoyed seeing all the sights that QC has – so much history here, as well as the stunning Hotel Frontenac which looks down upon the St Lawrence River from high on a cliff.  It is rumored that this is the place where Churchill, Eisenhower, and FDR made the decision to do Operation Overlord, AKA, “D-Day”.

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Our guide was fabulous, and even made me want to come back and visit in the wintertime when everything is frozen over, including the St Lawrence River.

Next is just a random photo of some historic buildings I thought were pretty –

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I can just imagine this with snow everywhere and all decorated for Christmas…. 🙂

After our lovely tour of Quebec City, we meandered back to the ship (pretty darn hot and tired) and went up to the Crow’s Nest Lounge. It’s nearly at the top and at the front of the ship, with huge windows everywhere. A great place to be comfortable and watch the sailaway. It was here we got in on the 4-5pm Happy Hour special. You can buy one libation at the normal price and get the 2nd for $1. On a cruise ship, that’s a pretty good deal. What we found out though, is…. I couldn’t have a glass of white wine and hubby a glass of red, even if they were the same price! Nope, you have to get two of the EXACT same thing to get the deal. Oh well, we worked through that, but thought that rule was a bit silly.

We wandered around the ship a bit after we got going and went up really high to the area where they rent out the “private cabanas”. I think these cabanas are only in use on Caribbean cruises. No one was using them that day, so we did!  Here’s a photo of me, hanging out in the private cabana, shortly before sunset. There wasn’t a soul around!

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We stayed out there quite a while, admiring the gorgeous, and I DO mean gorgeous Quebec countryside. Talk about peaceful and pastoral! We loved it!

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Sorry it’s a bit blurry… this was a big zoom-in photo and I don’t have a fancy camera. But you get the idea. Peaceful.

Day two was an “at sea” day, which had us going the length of the St Lawrence seaway and up around the top of Prince Edward Island. This was the only day that the boat really started rocking. We had “gale force winds up to 60mph” according to our ship’s captain!

Day three found us on Prince Edward Island. Unfortunately, the day dawned cloudy with the threat of rain, but we were still thrilled to be here. We took a tour called the Island Drive and Anne of Green Gables House. I didn’t remember ever reading Anne of Green Gables as a child, so made sure I read it just before we left on the trip. I’m so glad I did 🙂  Next two photos show us at Cavendish beach, not far from Anne’s house.zpei1

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The beautiful red earth is everywhere on the island!   We then hopped back in the bus and carried on to the Green Gables house. Obviously, Anne is a fictional character, but the author of all the Anne books, Lucy Maud Montgomery, lived on PEI as a child and this farm was owned by one of her family members. She visited the farm and apparently based the books on this lovely place.

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Here’s a pic of the woods surrounding the farm. Just gorgeous, even on a cloudy early-Fall day.

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I couldn’t resist this next one. I had to join the rest of the tourists and put on the “Anne with braids” hat and stand by the buggy.  It wasn’t all that much of a stretch really….. only a few decades back, I was a little girl with long red braids. No buggy though! 🙂  PS, I still have the braids, wrapped in plastic, in my garage. Don’t ask me why because I don’t know. Strange, eh?

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After a lovely visit to Anne’s house, we hopped on the bus and the rain started in earnest. I tried to get some shots through the bus windows showing the stunning beauty of this Island, but the weather made it difficult.  I loved this place so much that I told hubby I wanted to pack up and move there. Forget about this crazy upcoming election and terrorists, and just live out our lives in such peace. Hubby’s a Canadian, so we actually COULD do this. Then the tour guide said that it’s typical for the Island to get up to 10 feet of snow a year. My friend Karen, who actually lives on PEI has since told me that that number is really a bit of an exaggeration, that they only get that much snow on the worst of the worst winters.  Well, it scared hubby (the 12 feet of snow scenario), so I guess we won’t be moving there.  It’s ever so tempting, though.

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Okay, I can see now that this cruise blog is going to be a long one.  So, I’ll go ahead and publish this part now, and work on the rest of it in the days to come.  So far we’ve done 4 of the 10 days.  Many more ports of call ahead!! Hope you enjoy this as much as I enjoy remembering the fun on our recent trip.

An Autumnal Getaway

cruise-shipBack in 2013, hubby and I took a very exciting trip to Europe and did a Mediterranean cruise.  We got to see lots of all new places and totally enjoyed it — well, until I got a really nasty nasty cold, two days before the end of the 10 day cruise….. but I digress.  We love cruising. I could write an entire blog post on Why We Love Cruising but instead of that, I’ll give a couple of the biggest reasons. Number One:  You get to see lots of different places and only have to unpack once.  Number Two:  Somebody else does the “driving” & your food, “hotel”, and some entertainment are all included in the price.   There are pages I could write on choosing the right cruise line for you, the cruise destination, the type of cabin, and how to get a good price on the cabin you choose – but instead I’m just going to talk about the cruise we chose.

We’ve decided to do an Autumn Canada – New England cruise this year.  It’s been three years for us and honestly, I’ve been champing at the bit to go again.  Last year we nearly booked a similar trip, but just could not justify the price we were going to have to pay, so we canceled it. This year, we found a slightly shorter cruise, 10 nights instead of 14, on a different cruise line, and a different class of cabin – one that was more affordable, AND, since we no longer had a sick kitty that needed twice-daily medication  😦   well, we decided to go for it.  Some people when choosing a cruise, look at the ship and it’s amenities first. We don’t. We look at the itinerary first because we really enjoy exploring NEW places, and the ship itself doesn’t really matter to us (the cruise line does matter, but the particular ship, no).  In fact, this time we selected an “Inside” cabin to save some more money.  We have friends who have told us that having an Inside cabin (no porthole) is perfectly fine and comfortable – and after all you’re really only in your cabin to sleep, anyway.  In the past, I’ve loved having a Balcony Cabin, but we’re going to try an Inside this time. 

In 2009 we went on a similar cruise to Canada and New England, but this time we picked all new ports, except for one repeat, Halifax Nova Scotia.  We’ll get to Maine, Prince Edward Island, Massachusetts, Quebec City, & Newport Rhode Island. This will be our 7th cruise. Sometimes we’ve traveled with friends, sometimes on our own… this time it will be just the two of us.

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I’m so excited to go on our little “Autumnal Getaway” this year!  I’m sure I’ll post some pics to Facebook along the way, and will definitely report back here with the full recap.  The pictures above show…. a lighthouse in Maine, the hotel Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City, a pastoral scene on Prince Edward Island, and the waterfront mansions of Newport Rhode Island.