I’ve always wanted to tour New England in early fall and my friend, Ginni, suggested we do a cruise around New England into Canada so we signed up for a 10-day adventure on the Seabourn Quest. We were leaving out of Boston and decided to go a couple days early to tour that area. The whole adventure was from September 9th until late afternoon September 23rd.
Wednesday, the 9th: I had a late flight in the morning which gave me time to take a long walk, do some chores outside, and last minutes tasks before Joe and Mary picked me up. No problem with check in and flight to Chicago. I was to call Ginni once I arrived in Chicago but had typed her cell phone number wrong so proceeded to the gate for the last leg of the trip to Boston. Met up with Ginni, settled on board, and had uneventful trip into Boston. Retrieved our luggage, grabbed a taxi, and went to the Westin Copley hotel which is located downtown Boston. Checked into our room, which was nice, and went down to the consignee desk to ask where there was a good local restaurant and he recommended Legal Sea Food which was within walking distance. Great atmosphere, excellent food, and expensive wine by the glass. Returned to the hotel and their bar where we had a nightcap among lots of noise. Returned to the room, got ready for bed, and lights out around 11:00.
Thursday, the 10th: After sleeping in this morning, we got ready and walked to a local restaurant called Thornton’s for breakfast. We had gotten many high praises of this place but we did not see anything exceptional about it with okay food and slow service. We went to the hotel and purchased tickets from the consignee for the trolley Hop On/Hop Off tour. Number 8 stop was where we picked it up and rode the whole way around; it took about four hours. Places we saw: Trinity Church, Boston Public Library, Museum of Fine Arts, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Fenway Park, Cambridge area with M.I.T. And Harvard, Beacon Hill/Boston Common and beginning of Freedom Trail, Boston Tea Party Ships, Boston Harbor, Paul Revere House and Old North Church, USS Constitution, Boston Bruins stadium, Faneuil House, Old State House, Boston Public Garden and Swan Boats, and the original Cheers bar.
It started to cool down and drizzle so Ginni and I decided to wander through the shops in an attached mall. Did not find anything we felt like buying so went back to the hotel to ask the consignee where we could go for glass of wine for under $10. We ended up at Clerys Bar and Grill; good service, good wine, great atmosphere.
Walked to Stephanie’s for an early dinner. We decided to order Lobster Pot Pie plus seared cod which we had each dish split in half so we could taste each one. Delicious food but too much! Went back to hotel and had some wine in the room while watching the NFL opening game between Pittsburgh and New England. Needless to say, the local folks were excited about this game because it was the opening game of the NFL season and Tom Bradley’s 4-game suspension thrown out of the court system. Settled in for the night; the Lobster Pot Pie did not like being in my stomach so I had a very unpleasant night. Because we acquired free tickets, we plan on going to the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum tomorrow before checking out around 1:00.
Friday, the 11th: Had coffee in our room before taking a taxi to the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum where we had a scone and cup of coffee before taking the first tour. We were given a card with a name of someone associated with the dumping of the tea. Some interesting facts were stated but the play acting and length took away from the history telling and turned it into a tour suited for children.
Got a taxi back to the hotel where we packed, took our luggage down for holding while we went to lunch, and checked out. Had lunch at Au Bon Pain which was good. Returned to the hotel, retrieved our luggage, and grabbed a taxi which took us to the Black Falcon terminal where we registered and boarded our ship, the Seabourn Quest. Our stateroom is a suite and huge in comparison to the other ships I have been on.
There was a “pull away” party on two of the decks so we went for drinks and snacks. Came down to our room to dress for dinner. I was out on the veranda when an announcement was made that something was spotted in the water and we were going to turn around and take a look. It was starting to get dark; all of a sudden, we saw a light with a plume of smoke.
By this time, it was closing in on 8:00 so we headed to dinner. We were seated with a couple from London, Mike and Liz. Wonderful company and food made for two hours of eating delight. Then we headed to one of the lounges where a group of singers were performing Bee Gees songs. During the performance, the caption announced over the intercom that a woman had fallen over board, was retrieved but did not survive. What a solemn moment! How her husband must of felt. After a nightcap, we went back to our room where we prepared for bed and a good night’s sleep.
Saturday, the 12th: Woke up and wondered where the coffee was that we had ordered from room service the night before only to discover our clocks had been changed by an hour the night before instead of this evening. Anyhow, coffee came which we drank and then prepared for the day. Overnight, we cruised to Bar Harbor and arrived there before we woke up.
Had breakfast and then took the tender into Bar Harbor. A little history: Bar Harbor was discovered in the 19th century by vacationers who had found the northeast coast. Summer mansions, known as “cottages”, were built by the ultra rich like Astors and Vanderbilts. Most of them were destroyed by fire in 1947 and the ones that survived became inns. There was an arts festival going on so we walked through it, went through many downtown shops which stocked all of the same thing, and grabbed the tender back to the ship.
Had lunch and, afterwards, talked to our room steward and found out the “overboard” situation the night before was a woman who was drunk and argued with her husband so she decided to end it and jumped off their balcony. This is the first time, after going on many cruises, this has happened so it made for much solemn thought. Rest of the afternoon was spent reading. Went up to Deck 8 to have a drink while we sailed away but the departure was delayed. This evening was formal night but we did not go because neither of us wanted to pack formal wear for one evening so we went to the casual dining room where we had dinner with Roger and Marsha, a couple from Baton Rouge, LA. Decided not to listen to the entertainment so went back to the room, had a nightcap, and lights out around 11:00.
Sunday, the 13th: Got up around 8:30, took a shower, and headed to The Colonnade for breakfast. A gentleman named Bob joined us. This is a difficult cruise for him since his wife of 61 years passed away in January and this is the first cruise he has taken without her. Knowing what he was going through, I felt bad for him but understood his wanting to prove he could handle the trip on his own. Since it was late by the time we finished breakfast, we did not have lunch. The ship arrived in Halifax before noon and it was interesting watching what the crew does in order to secure the ship to dock and get the gangway prepared for the guests to descend onto the dock. The local authorities came on board to give us clearance while two local artists greeted us with the playing of bagpipes.
Ginni continued to have problems with her iPad so we took it up to the specialists who got it to charge, we think. We signed up for the 3-hour tour called “Halifax: Past and Present”. Scots were given land rights to Nova Scotia in 1621 but they arrived in force in the early 19th century…some 50,000 Scots highlanders bringing their language, kilts, bagpipes,and place names with them. Halifax is known for its harbor with more than 20,000 people are employed on the shore front. There are 147 cruise ships that visit each year. Interesting note is Halifax is built on a bedrock of granite. It also was very involved with the Titanic disaster because, after the sinking, the White Star Line dispatched the first of four Canadian vessels to search for bodies. The first two vessels to carry out this grim task were the Halifax-based Cable Ships Mackay-Bennett and Minia, which recovered 306 and 17 victims respectively. In all, 150 unclaimed victims were laid to rest in Halifax, forever linking the city to the vessel’s tragic tale.
We drove past the Pleasant Point Park which has many walking trails. As the ride continued, the tour guide gave us more details about the town and surrounding area. We arrived at the Public Gardens; very beautiful with flowers, statues, and large pond area. It is private land but the city maintains it for public use. After our walk through, we had about 30 minutes to explore Spring Garden Road which is known for the best shopping east of Montreal. Personally, I felt it was a very dirty, congested, and rundown area.
Got back on the bus and drove to the Halifax Citadel which is a National Historic Site. We arrived in time to see the changing of the guard, similar to the ones I’ve seen in France and London but not as big of scale. There was an hour given for us to wander around and view museum and video displays of what life was like for British troops who lived here in the year 1869 when Queen Victoria reigned and Canada was just two years old. The Citadel was active for two hundred years with it being founded in 1749 as a strategic base for the British Royal Navy.
More information about the Town Clock can be found at this link Town Clock The hour passed quickly and we boarded the bus for another 30 minutes of driving around with the guide pointing out various points of interest. Arrived back at the ship, boarded, went to our room to drop off items, and back to the IT folks because Ginni’s iPad still had not charged. They gave her a cable and charger belonging to them to try and told her to leave it on charge for the night. Got a small sandwich, cookie, and glass of wine at Seabourn Square. Once we arrived back in the room, we changed for the evening and rushed to the Grand Salon so we could watch the Amethysts Scottish Dancers, a local group which perform traditional Scottish Highland and National dances. Went to dinner around 7:15 at the Main Restaurant and were seated with another couple, Karen and Paul, from San Francisco. Very interesting couple; Karen has a MD in psychiatry while Paul has a PhD in the chemical field. The meal was lamb chops and VERY delicious.
After dinner, we went to the room and decided not to go to any of the lounges for entertainment. Tomorrow we are at sea all day so no worry about when we have to wake up.
Monday, the 14th: Woke up about 8:30, got dressed, and went to breakfast. Once we returned to our cabin, I changed shoes and took off walking. After about 45 minutes, got back to the room and we went to Seabourn Square where Ginni returned the cable/charger ( her iPad still did not work) and we signed up for a tour at Gaspe, Canada. While walking, I discovered the Observation Bar on the 10th level so we went up there with our books and news sheet. Today we will be cruising all day on the Atlantic so time will be spent reading, updating my notes from yesterday’s activities, and relaxing. About 1:00, we went to the Main Restaurant for the Galley Market lunch where the entire food and beverage staff presented a culinary feast that was remarkable! Hot food was set up at various points in the kitchen so all passengers could get a behind the scene look of the kitchen area; all breads, salads, cold entrees, and desserts were placed in the center of the main dining room in colorful, unique displays.
What a feast! And we enjoyed it with Karen and Paul, Matt and Ginger from New Hampshire, and Chris (lecturer on the ship) and her husband Frank from Newport Beach. Fun, wonderful conversation. Came back to the cabin where we plan to relax the rest of the afternoon. Both of us read and took an afternoon nap. At 6:00 pm, we stepped outside our door for the Seabourn Quest Block Party; we met our neighbors from around and down the hall while crew and staff passed by with canapés and champagne. It was a good time! We then proceeded to the Main Restaurant for dinner; we were seated with two other couples. They were only interested in themselves so it made for a long meal. When it was over, we had a nightcap at the bar where a singer with guitar was entertaining everyone. Went to our suite and prepared for the next day’s early tour on Prince Edward’s Island.
Tuesday, the 15th: Woke up early, took a shower, and headed to breakfast around 7:30. Took items from the buffet and had coffee before heading to the area where tenders departed. Arrived on shore at Charlottetown, Canada and boarded the bus for “The Best of Prince Edwards Island” tour which lasted all day. Charlottetown is the seaside capital of Prince Edwards Island and residents take great pride in their city with well-kept flower beds, manicured lawns, tree lined streets, and tastefully painted historic homes. It is known as the Birthplace of the Confederation. The island’s top industry is agricultural with tourism coming in third. There are 67 total lighthouses with 39 still active; it is famous for its landscape of red cliffs plus sandy beaches so the island is a popular vacation destination. Our first stop was at Confederation Bridge; an engineering marvel of over 8 miles opened in 1997 and known as the longest in the world. This bridge crosses the Northumberland Strait and connects PEI with New Brunswick. Potatoes are one of the top agricultural products so we were given a sample of the PEI chips. There was time for a little shopping and I found a Christmas gift for a friend. Next stop was Anne of Green Gables Museum at Silver Brush where the descendants of Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of the book, invited us into the old family farmhouse. Lunch was served at PEI Preserve Company; an excellent lunch of chicken/broccoli crepe, lettuce salad, and raspberry cheesecake pie for dessert. After lunch, we stopped at a harbor where there is lobster trapping. Our guide showed us a trap and explained how the lobsters are trapped and brought to surface. This is a big industry for the area. We enjoyed the vistas of the North Shore and Prince Edward Island National Park.
Back to the harbor where we had to contend with people returning to board two big cruise ships through security. Because of these two big ships, we had to anchor and use the tenders instead of being able to walk directly onto the dock from the ship. Ginni and I went to the Caviar Sail Away party on Deck 8 where a band plus singer performed. Returned to our suite to dress for dinner and then attended the greeting for first time Seabourn cruisers. Met up with Mike and Liz; had a drink and the four of us decided to have dinner together in the main restaurant.
Another fantastic evening made up of excellent food and great conversation in a wonderful environment. We decided to return to the suite instead of joining folks for the evening entertainment. More great conversation between Ginni and I…then off to bed for a good night’s sleep.