2018 MIAMI-MONTREAL
Seaside Sojourn

Oceania


EAST COAST BEAUTIES
On this beautiful exploration that traces the Eastern Seaboard and beyond, discover southern gems such as Charleston and northern stars like New York, as well as several Canadian treasures.

• Explore the beautiful countryside surrounding Portland on a fascinating tour of Maine’s most famous lighthouses
• Try to catch sight of eight different kinds of whales along the dynamic coastline of the Bay of Fundy, home to the highest tides in the world
• While in Shelburne, travel to the nearby UNESCO World Heritage site of Old Town Lunenburg, a living museum from 18th-century British colonial North America
• Let the culture and romance of Montreal transport you to the Old World while you stroll its cobbled streets and iconic cathedrals

The Ship: Marina, one of the big ones, 1250 cattle, ~twin to Riviera (cruise 2)


Day 1, Sun, Apr 22 Miami (1PM – 5PM)
Day 2, Mon, Apr 23 Port Canaveral, FL (7AM – 4PM)
Day 3, Tue, Apr 24 Charleston, SC (8AM – 8PM)
Day 4, Wed, Apr 25 Cruising the Atlantic #1 of only 3
Day 5, Thu, Apr 26 New York, NY (8AM – 11PM)
Day 6, Fri, Apr 27 AT SEA #2 of 3
Day 7, Sat, Apr 28 Boston, MA (8AM – 10PM)
Day 8, Sun, Apr 29 Portland, ME (8AM – 10PM)
Day 9, Mon, Apr 30 Bar Harbor, ME (8AM – 6PM)
Day 10, Tue, May 1 Saint John (Bay of Fundy), NB (8AM – 6PM)
Day 11, Wed, May 2 Shelburne, Canada (8AM – 6PM)
Day 12, Thu, May 3 Halifax, NS (7AM – 3PM)
Day 13, Fri, May 4 WHALE DAY: Cruising the Gulf of St Lawrence #3 of 3
Day 14, Sat, May 5 Saguenay, QB (2PM - 8PM)
Day 15, Sun, May 6 Quebec City, QB (8AM – overnight)
Day 16, Mon, May 7 Montreal, Quebec City,QB ( 4PM)
Day 17, Tue, May 8 Montreal Trois-Rivieres / Depart (8AM)


Day -4, Thu, April 18 – SO WHAT ELSE CAN GO WRONG?
First, I discover that Oceania has cancelled one of my “priority” excursions (Saguenay) and now offers just a bottom of the barrel excursion. Growl, etc. I’ll just stay onboard and take a nap.

Second, when I tried this afternoon to make a SuperShuttle reservation for Sunday morning, it seems that they aren’t offering service to the airport on that morning - they are already over-booked. So not only has SuperShuttle raised the each way price by $6, but I can’t even get a ride with them. I had to book a Yellow Cab ride for about $50 more than SuperShuttle (to the airport).

Third, the weather forecast is for storms/thunderstorms Saturday night into early Sunday morning. Taxi? Flight? Also showers probable in Miami.

And even quite a bit more problems to come …. In fact, due to all the problems which showed up, despite Oceania’s great reputation, this turns out to be a “three thumbs down” (or maybe even 4) cruise.

Day 1, Sun, Apr 22 – Miami (1PM – 5PM)
This morning it is that early flight to Miami again but on that $$$$$ Yellow Cab at 5AM. At least he got here a bit early so it was no rush to the airport. Also, the weather cooperated – Houston rain had moved out by 4AM and although we had a few short bouncy periods on the flight (and had to take “the long way around” to dodge thunderstorms over the gulf) we got to Miami on time and with good weather.

United UA 1641Houston - Miami7:35AM - 10:59AM2:24

Arrive in Miami, find the Oceania rep, and (transfer pre-booked) embark on the Marina - the twin to the oversized cattle barge: Riveria. After a long, long wait for a coach, Oceania finally got us to the ship and onboard for lunch. However, the wait for my cell to be made ready was long (over an hour late) and then another wait for luggage. Then we have the usual pre-departure rigmarole routine.

I did check about the cancelled excursion and supposedly I’ll get a can refund the last couple of days of the cruise.

MY PRISON CELL: OCEAN VIEW CATEGORY C (no Veranda but a nice view window), 242 square feet. #7080.

After dinner I tried to get on the local wi-fi network but although I connected with the network, I still couldn’t get on the internet. I’ll try again tomorrow but not much hope.

Day 2, Mon, Apr 23 – Port Canaveral, FL (7AM – 4PM)
Venture to the expansive sand beaches of Cocoa Beach or explore the Kennedy Space Center at nearby Cape Canaveral. Orlando is a little over an hour away. Another try at the internet give the same results – can connect to the onboard network but not a good enough signal to be able to connect to the ‘net. Same again this evening. I give up on trying.

PCV-001 Kennedy Disney Space 5 hours 9 - 2
(NOT) Highlight. Your tour begins with a half-hour ride from the pier to the Kennedy Space Center. Enroute, your personal guide will brief you on your Florida Space Coast visit. You will leave the coach outside the main entrance of the Visitor Center (DisneySpaceLand) in order to pass through a security check. Once inside the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex, guests will be escorted to a designated KSC coach for a bus tour of restricted NASA property. At each stop, you will rejoin a different coach, which requires some waiting in lines during peak periods.

On our tour of the (not) secure areas of DisneySpaceLand, we do NOT have the promised close-up view of the space shuttle launch pads (closer than regular guests are allowed is a total lie), instead only from about 6 miles away, see one of the largest buildings in the world - the vehicle assembly building (from about 3-4 miles), and visit the award-winning Apollo/Saturn V Center. Here, you will relive the launch of the massive Saturn V rocket and enjoy a front-row seat as man lands on the moon.

The tour (of what?) is all at the Kennedy Disney Space Center Visitor Complex, where you will have the opportunity to touch a piece of Mars, enjoy an IMAX space film and "The Shuttle Launch Experience" which will take visitors on a simulated shuttle launch beyond the boundaries of Earth.

As mentioned above, this was more a visit to DisneySpaceLand displays and films. Some were good but the best one giving the background and then current work towards future plans and a mission to Mars, is shown in 3D which my monocular vision can’t handle, making it like a tv program with a horrible number “ghost images”. It was “impossible” to watch so I just closed my eyes and listened. The weather started out nice but was a heavy thunderstorm for the last hour which destroyed any chance to do much of anything except try to find some cover. At the conclusion of your DisneySpaceLand experience, we, after a long wait or it, board our coach and return to Port Canaveral.

Comparison: the Houston Space Center is a much better place to visit. Here the Visitor Center exhibits were good but there wasn’t enough time and there was NO (close) viewing of the launch facilities. Because of that, this was a very disappointing

Please note: The security check is thorough. All bags and purses will be opened and inspected at the Visitor Complex. All electronic devices such as digital cameras must be in working condition before entering the complex.


Day 3, Tue, Apr 24 – Charleston, SC (8AM – 8PM)
NEW The Old South is captured beautifully in Charleston, which has meticulously preserved the ambiance and architecture of its antebellum past. The downtown is full of old-fashioned inns, antique shops and pristine private homes. Visit Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the American Civil War were fired, or the Charleston Museum, established in 1773 and distinguished as America’s first museum. For me, the first several hours is just sitting around on the cattle barge waiting to maybe, finally, get something to see.

CHS-005 Fort Sumter and Historic Charleston 4 ½ hours 12:45PM-5:15
Board a coach for the Historic Charleston City Tour. Charleston is considered the jewel of the southeastern United States and "America's Best-kept Secret." It certainly looked nice from the pier where we were docked. Through economic hardship, fires, earthquakes, and hurricanes, Charleston has exhibited a remarkable resilience. Often called a living museum, history is found literally around every corner of the city.

As our drives takes a wandering route through its lovely streets, you will appreciate the city's charm and allure, displayed via its cobblestone streets, varied architectural styles, and world-famous "basket ladies" which are found nowhere else in the United States except in this remarkable town. Journey through Charleston's Historic District, where you'll learn the city's fascinating history, viewing such sites as Hibernian Hall, a National Historic Landmark, as well as the site of the 1860 National Democratic Convention. During the convention, the division within the party led to no Democratic candidate emerging with a majority vote, paving the way for the election of the Republican Party's candidate - Abraham Lincoln.

Steeped in tradition and rich with pride, you will pass by The Citadel, the military college of South Carolina. At The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, you will view one of the three most historically significant buildings in Colonial America. From here, it's on to the nation's oldest museum, The Charleston museum. The museum is where a replica of the CSS Hunley, the world's first successful attack submarine is housed.

As you continue on, enjoy the beauty of Rainbow Row, the oldest row of 18th century structures in Charleston. Your elevated coach allows you to look beyond the privacy hedges meant to conceal Charleston's famed magnificent formal gardens. Before returning to the ship, a stop will be made at White Point Gardens where you will see the magnificence of the Battery Mansions which overlook the Charleston Harbor. It is here that the Ashley and Cooper Rivers converge and according to local lore, meet to form the Atlantic Ocean. Thanks to an excellent tour guide, the city tour turned out much better than I had thought. Excellent, though unfortunately due to the reflection on what was on the other side of the coach in my windows, I really didn't get to see much of what was being discussed. However, the discussion was excellent.

Next, this tour captures the excitement of that time in history when South Carolina had seceded from the Union. During your tour, visit Fort Sumter, a strategic site due to its location at the entrance of Charleston Harbor. Still inhabited by the Union army, the South demanded that Fort Sumter be vacated; however, the North refused. Finally, on April 12th, 1861, from nearby Fort Johnson, South Carolina troops of the Confederacy fired on the Fort - the start of a two-day bombardment that resulted in the abandonment (mis-named as the surrender) of Fort Sumter by Union troops. It was here the Civil War began.

After our city tour, we next stop at the marina where you will board your boat and take a 30-minute narrated tour across the Harbor to Fort Sumter. Along the way, you will be afforded the wonderful opportunity of seeing Charleston from the water. Upon arrival at Fort Sumter, we have a 60-minute walk in which your guide who is well-versed in Civil War History and the history of Fort Sumter, will take you on a tour of this famous bastion and its marvelous museum – which we didn’t have enough time to visit. Following your visit, you will re-board your boat and return to Charleston.

Please note: This tour includes considerable walking over uneven surfaces with stairs to negotiate.

Yesterday, I had managed to get 3 fairly good pictures before my camera started “doing funny things.” Finally, today, after getting back from the excursion, I managed to get the camera working correctly again. But I’ve now missed pictures from 2 of the 4 priority sites we visit, and the third visit (Saguenay) was cancelled before the cruise started. Very Bad luck on the pictures.

Day 4, Wed, Apr 25 – Cruising the Atlantic #1 of only 3
Last night before we left Charlestown, the Captain warned us of rough weather on the way to that big village to the north. Sure enough, it was a real rock and ROLL and ROLL and ROLL and ROLL all night and would continue through the day. We have a total of about 36 hours of rolling, supposedly with the last few hours as we head into that big village being the worst. Since there are no excursions, our breakfast is delayed until about half-way until lunch when we had the chance to stagger our way to the feeding trough. My prison cell is on deck 7 and the feeding-trough is on deck 12 so the stagger causing roll is much more pronounced there but I escaped unharmed. More staggering throughout the day. It is bad enough that I won’t “risk” going up to the very top deck to try to find the (ships computers) internet room. Otherwise, it is just a day to stay on the bed and watch the water go by. Be sure to eat well, we may not get lunch tomorrow.


Day 5, Thu, Apr 26 – New York, NY (8AM – 11PM)
We finally arrive in that overgrown, over-rated village with the awful traffic. We have the day to see a whole bunch more of the NYC gridlock. The Big Apple, or whatever. Call it what you may, New York reigns as one of the world's, for me, least interesting cities. But where to begin? The sacred soil of Ground Zero or stunning Central Park? Sadly, neither!

This morning I was hoping to get some good pictures of the Statue of Liberty and watched for it as we cruised into the river. Thinking that the Statue was further out from town, I finally gave up and thinking that I had missed it, put away my camera, to go for breakfast … only to then have a great view of the Statue from my table, but with no camera, didn’t get some probably great pictures. Ellis Island nearby is not “photogenic” from here.

NYC-004 Grand Tour of Endless Big City Gridlock (and maybe the Statue of Liberty) 7+ hours 10:45 - 6
The Statue of Liberty is one of the world's most renowned images and one of America's most beloved landmarks. This tour allows you to stand at the base of 'Lady Liberty' and learn about the history of this iconic Statue. Your tour also includes a visit to the Ellis Island Museum where you will catch the spirit of the important role this island played in American history.

Boarding your coach at the pier, it's a brief a 2 ½ hour (10:45-1:15) transfer to Battery Park, which lies at the Southern tip of Manhattan. Here board the ferry and take in the sites of New York Harbor, including beautiful views of the city, Brooklyn and its famous Bridge, Staten Island, New Jersey and the Manhattan skyline in the distance.

Your first stop will be Liberty Island for a walk around the base of the magnificent Statue of Liberty (we don’t visit the interior of the Statue). Your tour guide will provide detailed information about 'Lady Liberty', its completion in 1886 and its unique history. Look up and see what so many people saw as their first sight of a new life in America. During your visit, you will have a brief amount of no free time to enjoy some of the exterior exhibits. We are here only 30 minutes. At least I got a few pictures of the statue.

Re-boarding the ferry, you will continue on to Ellis Island, another National Historic Landmark. Counting stand in line and wait time, this takes about 45 minutes. Ellis Island was the main immigration center for the United States from 1892 until World War II. Today, it is an exceptional museum detailing all the different aspects of immigration and its effects on a growing and industrializing nation. It also is intertwined with the history of New York, as being a port city of commerce, the immigrants constantly changed the city with their dreams of prosperity. More than 12 million immigrants were processed at the island and today, over 40% of Americans can trace some part of their ancestry back to Ellis Island. Many people use the resource room there to research their ancestors and the vessels they came in on.

Enjoy over an hour of free time to independently explore the museum before boarding the ferry back to Battery Park. During your very long (3:45 – 6) transfer back to the ship, your guide will have commentary and point out landmarks and points of interest.

We spent over twice as long fighting traffic and long wait lines that we spent on the two islands combined. I hate NY traffic, and won’t come back here if I can possibly avoid it.

Please note: This tour includes moderate walking from the ferry terminals to the Statue and the Museum. Because the temperature on the water can be much cooler, it is recommended that participants bring a light weight jacket to break the wind, or dress in layers, or both. With a forecast high of only 64, both are necessary in the wind.

Day 6, Fri, Apr 27 – AT SEA #2 of 3
Another water day to “suffer” through more rock and ROLLING. I hadn’t expected so much ship motion on this cruise since it goes right along the coast. Noon temp 48, windy, cold rain. Not a good day.


Day 7, Sat, Apr 28 – Boston, MA (8AM – 10PM)
Boston's enormous role during the American Revolution is inescapable, and it's easy to trace by following the Freedom Trail, which links more than a dozen historic sites throughout town from the Paul Revere House to the Old North Church. I’ve also been to Cambridge and/or Harvard several times.

Very thick, very heavy fog this morning. Doesn’t burn off until mid-morning. The weather forecast for today is 45F this morning, high 62, cloudy and possible showers. I’ve been here so many times, there isn’t anything special on any excursion and with the weather forecast and my very sore back, I’ll skip the re-re-re-re-re-repeat excursion and stay onboard.

Later I asked people who had taken the excursion and they said it was NOT a nice 4-hour walk.

BOS-003 Freedom Trail Walk 4 hours 8:20 - 12:45 - scratch due to weather and my back.
Travel back to Revolutionary Boston with a walk along the Freedom Trail.Your experienced guide will reveal the sites and scenes of critical events that paved the way for American Independence. Highlights include the Massachusetts State House, Park Street Church and the Granary Burying Ground, the final resting place of many famous Americans including John Hancock, Samuel Adams and Paul Revere.

Later .... about 9PM, I noticed the lights of the bow of a large ship passing us (departing Boston). It kept going and kept going and kept going and finally I saw a name: it was the Horrible Awful Lines “Veendamn”. Yes, I spelled it that way intentionally. And it kept going and kept going until it was finally past us. The Marina is 1250 passengers but the “Veendamn” has to be at least twice that – 2500+. Something that large is another good reason NOT to take another RS/HAL cruise.


Day 8, Sun, Apr 29 – Portland, ME (8AM – 10PM)
Take in the best views of this vibrant city from the Portland Observatory, America's only remaining historic maritime signal tower. The Portland Museum of Art, located in the thriving Arts District, boasts the works of Picasso, Monet, Renoir and many other masters. Have a picnic or just relax in the serene Eastern Promenade Park, with its majestic slopes extending down to the beautiful Casco Bay.

Saturday night: This could turn out to be a real rain-out. Last night’s forecast low this morning is 41, high of 51, and good chance of rain meaning a fairly heavy coat and my raincoat. Rain will definitely reduce what can be seen and mean no pictures. I may even decide to stay on the coach at one or more of the stops.

Sunday 6AM weather status: 38F, forecast high 45-47, it is windy, the rain just started and the barge is rolling again. Swimming pool has large waves. This morning the forecast is for yet more of the same, so even though I used some on-board credit for a hooded parka in the overprice fleece-the-tourist market, for the second day in a row, I’m wimping out on taking an excursion, particularly with 3+ hours of walking. Yesterday was a re-re-re-re-repeat, but I had been looking forward to today since it would have been new.

PDX-001 Lighthouses Of Maine 3 ½ hours WEATHER
Lighthouse aficionados will love this tour of three historic beacons on Portland's rocky coastline, including Maine's oldest lighthouse. Depart from the pier and drive through historic Portland and past the Eastern Promenade, a grassy reserve that slopes gently to Casco Bay. The views are spectacular, as are the architectural landmarks that follow, such as the Portland Observatory and New Arts District.


Day 9, Mon, Apr 30 – Bah HahBah, ME (8AM – 6PM)
Established in the 19th century as New England's premier summer resort city, Bah HahBah was originally called Eden. It's still a seaside paradise, especially for lovers of the outdoors. Hike through Acadia National Park, behold the sweeping vistas from Cadillac Mountain, and watch for migrating humpback whales. The Wabanaki Indian exhibits in the Abbe Museum are also fascinating.

The weather was relatively calm, bright and sunny. It looked like it was going to be a great day. I’ve been to the Bar Harbor 3 or 4 times before on land tours with set, no options, tours of parts of Acadia NP. So, I was delighted to see that Oceania offered options. I chose “Villages and Harbors of Maine” since I like small towns and sights along the coast. However, when I went to the Lounge to exchange my ticket for the ‘bus number pass’ that (CENSORED) (CENSORED) careless (CENSORED) (CENSORED) thing doing the exchange gave me the wrong bus number. So I ended up with yet another (CENSORED) very boring tour of the Park. Basically, I slept through the tour (stayed on the bus). (CENSORED) (CENSORED) Oceania. Double Rip-Off – money spent for nothing and missed one of my priority excursions. (CENSORED .....)!

To make things worse, this turned out to be a “tender” port. The Marina has to anchor well out in the harbor (ocean waves). Then we had to make a very dangerous step from the rock-n-rolling cattle barge to a wildly pitching toy boat (the tender), and when finally arriving at the port, take a risky step from the pitching toy boat to the dock. Then do it again in reverse to get back onboard the barge. All in vain.

BHB-012 Villages & Harbors of Acadia 4 hours CENSORED!
Enjoy a meandering drive through some of the most scenic coastal villages along Mount Desert Island’s southern shore, stopping in Southwest Harbor to explore further. After departing from the pier, you will drive through the gorgeous Acadia National Park to Northeast Harbor, one of the many charming towns on the “quiet side” of Mount Desert Island, known to locals as MDI. While pausing for photos at the harbor, you will surely see dozens of sailboats and maybe stacks of wooden lobster traps at the marina. Northeast Harbor is immensely quaint, picture-perfect and wonderfully inviting.

Continuing around narrow Somes Sound, you will pass through Somesville, the oldest settlement on the island and famous for its arched wooden foot bridge. The settlement dates back to 1761, when sailor Abraham Somes arrived and stayed. His namesake settlement is a stunningly beautiful spot on the waterway.

Next comes Seawall, named for the loose boulders that have formed a natural seawall here. While pausing for photos, be sure to look for starfish and hermit crabs in the tidal pools.

Finally, you will pass through the fishing village of Bass Harbor on the way to Southwest Harbor. During free time here, you might shop in the welcoming boutiques, browse the art galleries, and roam wherever else you please. It’s hard to resist the aromas wafting from the bakeries. If you prefer something more substantial, you might enjoy a quick snack at a waterfront café. Afterwards, you will return to the pier in Bar Harbor.

Please note: Walking on this tour is primarily at the guests’ discretion during the photo stops and free time in Southwest Harbor.


Day 10, Tue, May 1 – Saint John (Bay of Fundy), NB (8AM – 6PM)
Always interesting. Explore Canada's oldest continuing museum, the New Brunswick, where displays include the skeletal remains of a rare North Atlantic right whale. Saint John is also known for the bizarre Reversing Falls, a daily tidal phenomenon so severe it reverses the flow of the Saint John River. Birders will enjoy serene Irving Nature Park.

The excursion stopped at only the four listed locations. I had really hoped for more. At least the professional commentary was good. The weather was good for the excursion. We were told that yesterday was heavy rain, and the next two days were forecast for more rain. Hint of what was to come?? After having lunch, I went up to the onboard computer room to send a (for once) positive report, but even there, there were problems – none of the ship computers would work and there was nobody there (manager) to try to take care of the problems. Computer access on this cattle barge is really lousy / non-existent.

YYT-010 Bay of Fundy Coastal Photography 3 ½ hours 8:30AM-11:45
The Bay of Fundy is picture-perfect, and you'll have the chance to capture it in photos with the help of your guide, a professional photographer who'll share tips and techniques.

Starting off from the pier, you'll head for some of the most scenic spots along the Bay of Fundy. Your tour will be led by a professional photographer that knows all the best spots to shoot the area's iconic images. Your first stop is Fallsview Park, where you'll have a great angle for photographing Reversing Falls Rapids, a phenomenon caused by a bay tide that rises more than 28 feet. When the tide is low, the river empties into the bay. As the tide rises, the water begins to churn in a series of powerful rapids and whirlpools until the river actually flows backwards. The water flow doesn't reverse until the tide goes out hours later.

Continuing on, you'll visit picturesque Lepreau Falls, the classic fishing village of Dipper Harbour (the harbor only, not the village), and the Bay of Fundy Beach. The bay's rocky, forested coastline is noted for its staggering beauty, and you'll have countless opportunities to capture it with your camera. Your guide will be happy to help you compose shots, offer tips regarding the natural lighting, and point out many of the most photographed images, including weather-worn fishing boats in Dipper Harbour and the cascading, stepped, Lepreau falls.

Following your time shooting the best of the Bay of Fundy, you'll head back to the pier where your tour comes to its conclusion.

Please note: Walking on this tour is mainly at the guests' discretion during the stops; however, there are uneven, rocky, muddy and sandy surfaces to negotiate.


Day 11, Wed, May 2 – Shelburne, Canada (8AM – 6PM)
NEW Situated in the heart of Nova Scotia’s South Coast, Shelburne features an idyllic waterfront lined with beautifully preserved 18th-century buildings. Delve into the harbor town’s history at the Shelburne County Museum and the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre, which tells the story of the world’s largest free African population outside of Africa in the late 18th century. For a fascinating day trip, travel to the nearby UNESCO World Heritage site of Old Town Lunenburg, the best surviving example of a planned British colonial settlement in North America, or Kejimkujik Nat. Park, part of the Southwest Nova UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Oceania and two sister companies are the only ones which visit Shelburne. NCL, RC, Princess, HAL, etc. do not stop there.

“Interesting” start to the morning. When I went up for breakfast we were just starting into the Estuary for Shelburne. After about 10 minutes, I saw that we were “backing up.” After a several minutes of that, we started forward again. Perhaps the bridge staff had steered us into the wrong channel at first and we had to back up, correct our course, and start in again. At least we didn’t run aground or run into something. When we had started into the Estuary, the weather was good: bright, clear, sunny, minor wind and waves. But by the time we anchored (it is another tender port), the weather was turning dark and gloomy and waves were rising. Apparently, yesterday’s bad weather forecast will be/is accurate.

To make things worse, something I ate for dinner last night didn’t like me. By this morning the decision is definite – no way would I risk a very long (7-hour) excursion. Another “scratch.”

Historic UNESCO Lunenburg (SHE-001) 7 hours Bad Food Day
Meander through the charming streets of Lunenburg and Mahone Bay, two well-preserved and historically important waterfront towns established in the mid-18th century. After departing from the pier, you will settle in for a leisurely and wonderfully scenic drive through the countryside and on to Lunenburg. A brief but informative walking tour will serve as an introduction to this charming waterfront town that was established in 1753.

UNESCO named Lunenburg a World Heritage site as North America’s best surviving example of a planned British colonial settlement. As you stroll the historical streets, be sure to notice the town’s rectangular grid layout, which was drawn up in England. It has been fiercely preserved, as has Lunenburg’s overall appearance and wooden architecture. During free time that follows, you might meander about the old town, perhaps dining in a waterfront cafe or browsing the galleries and Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic. Tall ships will surely be moored in the harbor, perhaps even the Bluenose II, a replica of the famed racing schooner built in 1921 that remained unbeaten for 17 years. If you have a Canadian dime in your pocket, look at the back—the original Bluenose is depicted on the back.

More free time awaits you in the nearby town of Mahone Bay, which was settled a year after Lunenburg to support shipbuilding and logging. It is extraordinarily picturesque, and its three waterfront churches are among the most photographed places in Canada. Following this visit, you will return to Shelburne.

Please note: This tour includes approximately 4 hours of moderate walking mainly at the guest's discretion. Walking tour in Lunenburg does include some hills in the town. Guests are welcome to forgo this portion of the tour and enjoy additional free time if they wish.


Day 12, Thu, May 3 – Halifax, NS (7AM – 3PM)
Always interesting. Founded by the British in 1749, Halifax still has a British military air about it. Every day at noon, a ceremonial gun is fired at the Halifax Citadel, a star-shaped fortress where the guides wear military uniforms. The exhibits have a more seafaring slant at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and include the nearly 100-year-old Acadia.

The ship is really running late this morning. The first excursion was scheduled to disembark at 7:15 (a long duration one to Peggy's Cove) but we didn't even get to the pier until 7:15. Add time to tie up, get the gangways in place, get the harbor personnel onboard to clear the ship, etc. and it was well over a half hour delay for the excursion which would have been a big problem since there is an early on-board time/early departure due to the Whale Zone. I would imagine that the excursion gets cut quite a bit short.

As for my excursion on the English (old very noise engine) double-decker bus city tour with a 1-hour stop at the Citadel ... due to the horrendous noise from that old style engine, it was almost impossible to hear even a few words of the commentary unless the bus was stopped (engine idiling) at a stop light. As for the Citadel, it doesn't officially open to visitors until May 7 (this is only May 3) so the only parts open were the snack bar, the boutique, and one small "museum" display. Even the main information center was closed. Between the engine noise and the closed Citadel, although the bus route was very good, this wasn't even a slightly good tour.

YHZ-008 Historic City Tour and Double Decker Bus 3 hrs 9AM-12
Discover how Halifax has been named the Warden of the North for more than 250 years during this scenic city tour that travels via double-decker bus. Depart the pier with your kilted guide on a British double-decker bus for a scenic tour of Halifax, a military, commercial and political powerhouse for more than 250 years. As you proceed through Halifax's historic streets, your guide will inform you about the city's founding during the age of pirates and privateers, and the prosperous, world-class city it has become today. You will also learn about the Halifax Explosion, a deadly December 1917 collision of two ships in the harbor that forever changed the face of the city's North End, and how the people of Massachusetts responded to this plight.

During your tour, a visit will be made to the Halifax Citadel, the fourth fortress to guard the city since its founding 250 years ago, and one of Canada's most popular and most visited national historic sites. As you travel through the streets of this historic, yet modern city, you will also see such landmarks as St. Paul's Anglican Church, City Hall, the Old Town Clock and Province House.

After approximately 3-hours, your bus will make its way back to the pier where your tour concludes.

Please note: This tour includes minimal walking which is mostly pebbled surfaces. Any stairs would be at the guest's discretion. Guests should be prepared for the possibility of rain. The order of the sights viewed or visited may vary.


Day 13, Fri, May 4 - WHALE DAY: Dodging Whales in the Gulf of St Lawrence #3 of 3
To comply with speed restrictions within the Gulf of St. Lawrence which have been issued by the Canadian Coast Guard to protect Right Whales which inhabit the area, Marina will proceed at reduced speed through these waters. Arrival and departure times in Halifax and Saguenay have been amended accordingly.

Rain last night and this morning. Waves building. Very gloomy and foggy. Couldn't see a whale out there even if some were there.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

SO WHAT ELSE CAN GO WRONG? 7PM Announcement: DUE TO RECENT WEATHER IN MONTREAL, WE DON’T GET TO MONTREAL. WE STOP IN TROIS-RIVIERES. DUE TO THE HEAVY SPRING RAINS, THE WATER LEVEL IN THE RIVER IS TOO HIGH AND THE CATTLE BARGE WON'T FIT UNDER TWO OF THE BRIDGES. But transfers are provided: See the revisions in Sunday-Tuesday below.

* * * * * * * * * *


Day 14, Sat, May 5 - Saguenay, QB (2PM - 8PM: nap time)
Highlight this morning during breakfast: Bird Watching - 4 small birds flying around in the Terrace Cafe during breakfast. Chased around and around and around and ... but no luck getting them out.

The SCENERY as we cruise up the Saguenay Fjord is the BEST OF THE TRIP. It’s not an Alaskan area such as Misty Fjords (sheer very high cliffs) but more rounded hills with occasional sheer rock faces. There is lots of greenery. There are even many patches of lingering snow. I would REALLY like to have gotten some pictures but taking pictures from my cabin through salt splattered windows from sea spray and rain does NOT work; the camera focuses on the mess on the window. And the temperature outside is very cold plus a major wind chill factor. In fact, any outside, open deck, activity is definitely discouraged by the ship crew. It’s a very bitter, occasionally dangerous, wind. Temperature 45; wind chill down in the low 30s.

When the barge finally stopped, from what I could see the little town looked very interesting. Since I like little towns I decided to brave the weather: knit shirt, long sleeve shirt, sweater, parka, and knit cap made it survivable. First, I just got off the barge and walked around in the Port Village Area – window shopping but no buying. After that I bought a ticket on the hop-on/hop-off shuttle bus for the “Downtown and Cultural Area Circuit.” I would have gotten off that and walked around some, but it was just too cold so back to the barge to thaw out. But even with the temperature and wind, THIS WAS DEFINITELY THE BEST DAY OF THE TRIP.

Highlight (was to have been my 2nd rated excursion of the cruise). But on April 18 I discovered that Oceania has deleted all the listed excursions and substituted a miserable 99th rated excuse. So now just staying onboard and taking a nap is a better deal but I did decide to brave it and went out to walk around some on my own. I will get an actual refund for the booked excursion but that won't come close to making up for what I'm missing.

(SAG-006) Discovery Of New France - 4 hours CANCELLED

Get a unique historical perspective of the colonization of the Quebec province by visiting re-creations of several 17th century settlements, and then the Saguenay Fjord Museum. Departing from the pier, you'll enjoy a picturesque drive to New France, a re-creation of 17th century life during the colonization of the Quebec province. The setting features meticulously restored historical buildings, costumed characters, historical figures, and fascinating demonstrations about the world of New France.

During the 17th century, the First Nations tribes and the French colonists lived side by side and their cultures became interdependent. Much of this knowledge has been gleaned from archaeological excavations of the area around the New France site. More than 100,000 artifacts have been unearthed here, many of them on display. There is also a re-creation of a Huron Village, a rural farm, and Quebec City's upper and lower towns. Interacting with the characters at New France, watching folkloric Indian dances, and sampling traditional foods adds to your understanding of life here in the 17th century.

The (only) alternative (very poor) was a visit to two museums. Other than the excursion I missed, nothing changed here.


Day 15, Sun, May 6 - Quebec City, QB (8AM – 7PM)
Surrounded by several miles of granite walls dating back hundreds of years, Quebec City’s fabulous Old Town exudes European character, exemplified in the iconic Château Frontenac. Another architectural gem is the fascinating Musée de la Civilisation, a treasure trove of items recreating the French-speaking city’s early days.

The excursion below, listed as 3 hours, was much shorter. We get off late and back early. It was only barely 2 ½ hours. Quebec City seems a very nice place, what little we saw of it (the interesting sights: don’t blink or you will miss it). The onboard commentary (history of the area) was good but the only thing we actually saw was Montmorency Falls (nice). Just another “drive-by-shooting” type city tour. With about 60 hours to go until I’m supposed to be home, there is nothing left to do. The trip is essentially all over.

YQB-008 Historic & Modern Quebec w/ Montmorency Falls 3 hours 8:30AM-11:30
In addition to a delightful historical tour of Quebec City, you will venture into the unspoiled countryside to a thundering waterfall that's 90 feet higher than Niagara Falls. Commencing from the pier, you will drive by Place-Royale, a lovely square on the site of the original settlement. Then, it's on to Dufferin Terrace, where Samuel de Champlain built his fort in 1620, and where you’ll also find Château Frontenac, an castle-like hotel that has been an icon since its opening in 1893. You'll discover even more about the history of Quebec City at these two historic sites and enjoy some brief free time to browse on your own. Next, it's on to Cap Diamant, the promontory that overlooks the Plains of Abraham, where the French and British clashed in a battle.

After stopping for photos and to enjoy sweeping views of the St. Lawrence River and Laurentian Mountains, you will head for Montmorency Falls, which thunder down 275 feet into the river. Explorer Samuel de Champlain named the falls for his patron, the Duke of Montmorency, and it's a memorable tribute as they are higher than Niagara Falls. After a 30-minute stop to capture some unforgettable photos, you will re-board your coach and travel back to the pier in Quebec City where your tour concludes.

Please note: This tour is primarily panoramic in nature and walking is mainly at the guests' discretion during the stops. The surfaces to negotiate are generally flat in nature.

We were originally scheduled to depart at 8PM and continue up the river to Montreal. However that late change means that we spend all night here (and until 4PM tomorrow afternoon.)


Day 16, Mon, May 7 – NOT Montreal, QB (8AM – overnight)
Day 16, Mon, May 7 - Quebec City (-4PM) / Trois-Rivieres (11:50PM)
We spend most of the day in Quebec City with only two scheduled activities: a repeat of what I took yesterday, and a very expensive helicopter flight. We are here until 4PM then putt-putt on up the river but not to Montreal. This evening/night, we stop in Trois-Rivieres at 11:50PM.

Here is what I missed:

(YUL-004) Montreal & Countryside (OS) lunch. 8 hours 9 - 5
See the historic side of Montreal in its compact Old Town and then venture into the bucolic countryside for lunch and a glimpse into its traditional apple cider production. Depart from the pier and travel directly into the heart of Old Town, a once-walled area where the city was founded in 1642. As you stroll along the cobbled streets, you will see icons such as the Notre-Dame Basilica, which when completed in 1829 was the largest house of worship in North America. It still commands attention, as do the other unforgettable sites such as the courthouse, city hall and various squares where Montreal's history unfolded.

For a different perspective of the city, you will then drive into Plateau Mont Royal, a predominately Francophile neighborhood with beautiful stone buildings, wrought-iron staircases and bohemian undercurrents. A former working class district, it has been gentrified and become an attractive environment for trendy boutiques and restaurants.

Then, it's off into the countryside for an inspired lunch that reflects the local cuisine. This rural area is also renowned for its flourishing apple orchards and apple-based products, which you will discover at a tasting at the family-owned Jodoin cider house. Its ice cider is particularly distinctive. It's made with three apple juice varieties and then frozen and fermented to create a delicately sweet beverage with an intense finish. The cider is often paired with strong cheeses and foie gras. Following this tasting, you will return to the pier.

Please note: This tour includes approximately 2.5 hours of easy to moderate walking/standing over mostly flat surfaces; although there are cobblestone streets in Old Town.

But I miss all that. We just had to sit around in Quebec City.


Day 17, Tue, May 8 – Montreal Trois-Rivieres / Depart (8AM)
Oceania promises that somehow, they will get 1200 passengers from Trois-Rivieres to the Montreal Airport in time for our flights. The transfer is pre-booked. There are 7 transfer times: 6AM-9AM every half hour. The transfer will take 1:45-2:00 hours so my 9AM departure gets me there by 11:25 – plenty of time for my 5:50 flight. One couple wasn't so lucky: they had a 12:21 departure and between the late bus arrival and long security lines, they didn't make it.

This is an Air Canada flight rather than United in order to get a non-stop direct flight so it is on a separate ticket. The flight is a very late one (long wait - ~6 hours - at the airport) but the late departure is very convenient due to having to do the transfer from Trois-Rivieres.

Air Canada AC7685Montreal - IAH5:50PM - 8:45PM3:55

Home at 10:30PM. One month until the next trip.

EXCURSIONS:
(PB = pre-booked)
Cape Canaveral (PB) PCV-001 Kennedy Space Center6 hours
Charlestown (PB) CHS-005 Fort Sumter and Historic Charlestown4 ½ hours
New York City (PB) NYC-004 Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island6 hours
Boston (PB)BOS-003 Boston Freedom Trailscratch weather
Portland (PB) PDX-001 Lighthouses Of Mainescratch weather
Bar Harbor (PB) BHB-011 Villages & Harbors of AcadiaCENSORED!!
St John’s (PB) YYT-010 Bay of Fundy Coastal Photography3 ¼ hours
Shelburne (PB) SHE-001 Historic Unesco LunenburgBad Food Day
Halifax (PB) YHZ-008 Historic City Tour and Double Decker Bus3 hours
Saguenay (PB) SAG-006 Discovery of New FranceCANCELLED
Quebec City (PB) YQB-008 Historic & Modern Quebec3 hours
Montreal (PB) YUL-004 Montreal and Countryside (OS)DELETED


Selected pictures
Click to enlarge

Kennedy
LibertyReversing
Lepreau Falls
St Johns
Montmerency
"Go Cart"
Quebec City






OCEANIA CRUISES:
1 Nov 16, 2016 - Caribbean Charisma, Regatta, 13 days
2 Dec 16, 2016 - Heart of the Caribbean, Riviera, 11 days
3 Jan 13, 2018 - Seaswept Breeze, Riviera, 11 days
4 Apr 22, 2018 - Seaside Sojourn, Marina, 17 days
5 Jun 15, 2018 - Panama Enchantment, Insignia, 17 days
6 Oct 3, 2018 - Cuba, Serena, 8 days
7 Feb 5, 2019 - Allure of the Islands, Rivieria, 13 days