Disembarkation & Traveling Home

Saturday, April 29, 2024

As I was trying to get ready for the evening, the hair dryer and make-up mirror quit again, and this time so did the TV. I couldn’t find the room steward, so I left a note. I think they are going to have to do more than switch out a fuse to solve the problem. We ate a very light dinner in the Lido because of the large lunch we had eaten that afternoon.

We played slots, cashed out, and then went to the room to finish the packing, tagging, and putting the two large bags out in the hallway. If all went well, we would see them tomorrow morning at the pier.

I was up at 6:00 and was surprised that we were not docked but slowly coming into Montreal. The Cruise Director came over the loudspeaker at 7:00 and said that because of the strong currents in the St. Lawrence River overnight, the ship was slowed more than expected.

Disembarkation would be delayed. If we had been staying in Montreal overnight, no issue. However, we were traveling home so delay is never a great thing to hear on disembarkation morning.

We went to the Lido for breakfast. We left our room at 8:30 so the stewards could prepare for the arriving guests. We sat near the elevators until our disembarkation number was called at 10:00 (1 hour later than advertised).

We found our luggage in the holding area and took the HAL transfer bus to the airport for the convenience. It was a 30-minute ride, and we were fortunate to be dropped off very close to the Delta area.

There was no out-side baggage check but luckily there was no line at the inside baggage check. Once we got those bags checked and got our boarding passes, she directed us to the security area.

Just as I entered the area, a woman in uniform stepped forward and said to me “Hello, you have been randomly selected for an in-depth security screening.” Sigh. Same thing happened to Chuck in Buenos Aires. I had to open my backpack, purse, and carry-on so she could rifle through them and run a wand over them. She did not run a wand over me. She did not open any of Chuck’s carry-ons.

Once she was through with my screening, we were escorted to the VIP security line that had only a few people in it. We had to send our stuff through the scanners, but we could keep our shoes and belts on.

The passport control area was next. Since we don’t have Global Pass, we had to get in the long line. We started at the back of the line at 11:00 and were at an agent in about 20 minutes.

Once he handed back our passports, we were free to go to our gate. Of course, our gate was at the very end of the long hallway but we got there by 11:40.

At 12:30, I got an alert on the Delta app that our flight was delayed from 2:00 to 3:00. Knowing that an hour would make us miss our shuttle reservation, I called the service, and they were able to move us to a later shuttle. As soon as I hung up, I got a Delta alert that the time had been changed from 3:00 to 2:30. I didn’t change the shuttle reservation back because I thought if we did arrive for the earlier shuttle and they had two open seats, they would let us on. It has happened before.

We decided to get sandwiches at the airport. Two turkey sandwiches and a small can of Pringles- $23 U.S. – crazy. Airport food anywhere is outrageous.

When we boarded the plane, we found it had very small uncomfortable seats, very little storage space overhead, and a narrow aisle – not our usual Delta experience. It did have WIFI available but no other in-flight entertainment. I was glad I had my Kindle book charged. We took off at 2:35. The flight was a little under 3 hours.

We landed at the International terminal. The people who had flight connections that left under an hour were allowed to get off first. We were told that we would not be going through Customs upon arrival because Customs had pre-approved us in Canada. I didn’t even know that process was a possibility.

We still had to collect our checked luggage and take the airport bus to the Domestic terminal to catch our shuttle home. The bus was packed, and traffic was bumper-to-bumper on Camp Creek Parkway getting to the other terminal. We made it to Domestic Ground Transportation at 6:45. I was certainly glad I had not changed our shuttle time back to the original 6:15.

Our shuttle arrived at 7:05. There were only 3 of us in the van so we could spread out. As we were traveling on I-75 there were 3 small cars and about 6 motorcycles that passed us and had to be doing over 100 miles an hour. The motorcycles were driving between the lanes and the cars would swerve over to the shoulders to pass the rest of us.

State troopers were trying to catch them in all the traffic. It was nerve-wracking to see. Inevitably we came upon a wreck – looked like one of the cars and 2 of the motorcycles. Lots of police cars and emergency vehicles. There was a shoe in the road. Just a sad and unnecessary outcome.

We finally made it to the shuttle office and arrived home by 10:00. We were exhausted. We were greeted by a disgruntled Pumpkin. I knew he would make us pay with a very sleepless first night back.

I was glad to be home, but we did have a very good time and I would like to visit those places again someday.

Until next time – “Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” ― Anita Desai

Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

Friday, April 28, 2023

So, I am trying to get ready for our last dressy night and as I was drying my hair, I heard a pop. Both the hair dryer and the makeup mirror suddenly quit working. I called Guest Services, waited on hold for 15 minutes, and then gave up. Sigh. I used my flat iron to finish my hair. I was glad my hair was short.

I saw the room steward as I was leaving for dinner and told him about the problem. He said he would call the electrician.

The main dining room was very busy. We shared a table with a couple from New York and one couple from Oregon. I chose the duck and Chuck had the sole.

HAL was hosting a second Orange Party of the trip because today was the King of Netherland’s birthday. We chose not to go because it wasn’t going to start until 9:30 and we had an early and long tour in Quebec. Chuck wanted to play some cards. I bought a hot chocolate and went to the room to read.

There was a knock on the cabin door at 8:30. The electrician was there to check the outlet. He confirmed it was now working and said a fuse had blown.

I set the alarm for 7:00 a.m. but I was up at 6:15. I got us some coffee and then breakfast was delivered at 7:45. We watched the sail-in to Quebec City. We were finally having a beautiful sunny day.

We were supposed to be able to get off the ship at 9:00 but the Cruise Director came over the loudspeaker and said they were still trying to get the gangway in place and please don’t come to the gangway area. He said he would make an announcement when it would be okay to disembark.

Our HAL tour was supposed to begin at 9:30. At 9:15, we went to the 5th floor to look out the port side to see how they were coming with the gangway. Much to our surprise, the gangway was set, and people were streaming off. We headed to the gangway, got in the line, and were just about off when the Cruise Director came back on the loudspeaker and said we could go to the gangway now. Faster communication between the personnel at the gangway and the CD would have been nice. By the time we got on the bus, it was 3/4 full. Sigh.

The HAL tour we were on today was called: The Best of Quebec and Countryside with Lunch.

The tour description: Learn the fascinating history of Québec as you are whisked back in time to relive the city’s 400-year legacy, followed by a journey along the St-Lawrence River to the Beaupré Coast. This is one of the most picturesque areas of the Province of Québec.

You will first visit the Ste-Anne-de-Beaupré Shrine, where popular belief holds that Ste-Anne saved numerous shipwreck victims off Cap Tourmente. If time permits, you will stop at the family-run Albert Gilles Copper Museum to view the amazing works of the artisan who created the copper doors of the Basilica.

As you make your way back to Québec City, you’ll stop at Montmorency Falls. Cascading down a 272-foot cliff, the falls are 1.5 times higher than Niagara Falls. See the powerful forces of nature as the water of the Montmorency River roars down the cliff to eventually meet with the St Lawrence River.

Inside the fortress walls of Old Québec, you will discover the strength and beauty of the cradle of French culture in North America. This city is a remarkable mélange of Amerindian, French and British heritage, evident in its narrow cobblestone streets, stone gates and ramparts. Stop at Dufferin Terrace and the Château Frontenac Hotel — Québec’s most famous landmark — for panoramic views over the Old City, the Lower Town, the St Lawrence River and the surrounding countryside.

Notes: The Best of Québec & Countryside is a comprehensive tour. If you purchase this tour, you should not purchase Countryside of Québec or Historic & Modern Québec, as they visit many of the same attractions.

Our guide today was a history professor from the University of Quebec who grew up in Minnesota. He was very informative and entertaining. He said we brought good luck. A couple of weeks ago there was still snow piled up and the weather today was the nicest they had experienced since October.

The bus was okay, but the seats were narrow and the space between rows was like an airplane – tight. The sound system was excellent.

Our first stop was a short walking tour of Old Quebec. The guide said that you could find many English-speaking people in this part of Quebec City but get further away – French would be all that you would hear or see.

We were following the St. Lawrence River to our next stop. There seemed to be thousands of snow geese all along the banks.

Our next stop was Montmorency Falls. He said the Falls were wider than Niagra but not as tall. He encouraged us to walk up the path to the base of the Falls or we could stay on the boardwalk and view it. We opted to go to the base but found the path closed off. He later said the officials told him that they closed it because the water was rising, and they were afraid it would flood the path. Since we could see other people were walking on the path, that explanation was a little weird. We viewed the Falls a while and then went to the Visitor Center for a bathroom break and a cup of coffee.

We then traveled down the Royal Road – created in the 18th Century to link Montreal and Quebec – to our next destination. It was a very narrow and winding road and our guide said some of the land we passed had been in the same families for centuries.

Our stop was Ste Anne’s Basilica. He said that Ste Anne was said to have saved shipwreck victims and healed thousands of people during her life through prayer. The Basilica holds masses every day to accommodate all the people who make a pilgrimage here from all over the world. We got there at noon just as a mass was finishing and the bells were tolling.

The Basilica was impressive – granite structure, handmade copper doors, mosaic floors, walls and ceilings of hand-laid tiny tiles. The ceiling depicted the complete life cycle of Ste. Anne.

Even the lower level of the Basilica (to hold the overflow of people at mass) was ornate.

The shrine itself is said to hold the arm bone of Ste. Anne.

We had ample time to tour the Basilica and its grounds. We didn’t have time to visit the copper museum. However, the guide said that it was still run by the descendants of the copper artist who created the doors and should be visited if we ever come back to Quebec.

Our next stop was a restaurant for lunch. I never know what to expect when the tour advertises lunch. Will it be sandwiches or a complete meal? Today, I was hoping that the lunch would include poutine, but it did not.

However, we were squeezed into several long picnic type tables. We started with a very good vegetable soup. Then, we had a choice of either chicken or salmon, both of which came with a large portion of vegetables. The meal finished with a light purple dessert – I thought it tasted like blueberry mixed with Cool Whip. Your choices for drink – water, tea, or cola. You could purchase wine. One woman ordered a glass of wine and was very disappointed with the amount she received for the price she paid.

I thought it was a good meal but just kind of an ordinary meal you could get on the ship. We spent a long time for lunch so they could get everyone served. May want to rethink the tour. Shorten the tour time and just include a snack of some sort (hint – poutine).

After lunch, we went to Upper Quebec and stopped at the Parliament building. The building had statues of famous Canadians on the front.

We then walked over closer to the walled portion of the city and the guide talked about the Battle of the Plains of Abraham where the French lost to the English.

It was now time to go back to the ship. I was disappointed that we didn’t get to stop at the Chateau. We only drove by it.

They had us back to ship right on the dot at 4:30 which was the all-aboard.

I thought the tour was okay. The guide was very good. You could tell he loved his adopted city. I would have liked to have had more time in Old Quebec with a stop at the Chateau and less time at lunch.

Now, it was time to do some more packing and get ready for our last evening on board.

Travel Trivia

Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

The Algonquian people had originally named the area Kébec, an Algonquin word meaning “where the river narrows”, because the Saint Lawrence River narrows proximate to the promontory of Quebec and its Cape Diamant.

Quebec City is one of the oldest European settlements in North America and the only fortified city north of Mexico whose walls still exist. It is also the second-largest city in the province after Montreal.

Almost 73% of the world’s maple syrup comes from Quebec.

Quebec remains the oldest community in North America that speaks French.

Quebec is home to the Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Quebec. This is an important part of the Old Town UNESCO Site. It’s also one of the oldest Roman Catholic properties north of Florida.

Trivia provided by Wikipedia

Sea Day #4

Thursday, April 27, 2023

We left port at 4:00 instead of 3:00 for some reason. We passed under the Confederation Bridge at 7:00 pm. Reminded me of going under the Sunshine Bridge out of Tampa. Not much clearance.

Since I had eaten Chuck’s portion of the mussels and oysters in addition to all the other food on the tour, I wasn’t very hungry for dinner. Chuck agreed to eat dinner in the Lido. I had soup. He had the pork chops. I forgot the photos.

We didn’t go to the second show of the guitarist/singer duo on the world stage. Instead, we attended all three sets of the Ocean Bar Band. Since we had such a late night, we were glad to be able to set our clock back an hour when we got back to the room.

Woke up to a cold, foggy morning. We were going very slow again because we had re-entered whale territory.

Fishing boat in the fog

We had our last main dining room breakfast. We shared a table with a couple from Arkansas. Enjoyable conversation.

Since we have an all-day tour in Quebec tomorrow, we started the packing today. There will still be last minute packing tomorrow evening.

We got our disembarkation tags and paperwork that let us know that our HAL transfer to the Montreal airport is at 9:00 am. Our flight is at 2:00. We don’t know how long it will take to get there or what to expect at the Montreal airport regarding security and customs. Just hoping for the best.

The program today advertised a Dutch-themed lunch beginning at 11:30 in the Lido. I assumed they would have it until 2:00, normal lunch hours. We played slots until 12:45. Once we got there, the Dutch Corner had been replaced by the regular sushi section. I was disappointed that I had missed it. I had a bowl of seafood chowder.

At 2:00 pm, I attended the cruise director’s lecture “The Hidden Story of Canada’s Famous Symbols.” It was very interesting.

Our last load of laundry was returned. Nice to pack clean, fresh clothes.

Soon, I was getting ready for our last dressy night.

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Just like last night, we watched the sail away from the Ocean Bar listening to Cat play the piano.

It was soon time for our dinner in the Canaletto. I had the eggplant and mozzarella appetizer and the grilled branzino. Chuck had the veal and sage meatballs for an appetizer and the beef short ribs in the red wine sauce. We shared the gelato for dessert.

We played slots until the first set of the Ocean Bar band. The first set was 80’s music. The dance floor was packed. Their next set was 90’s music. Not as many on the dance floor during this set.

We docked at 7:30. We had a light breakfast in the Lido because we wanted our stomachs to be ready for our tour.

We were taking a HAL tour today: A Taste of Charlottetown: Culinary Walk.

The tour description: If you love sampling local foods in faraway places, you’ll love this culinary walking tour of downtown Charlottetown.

Led by a friendly and knowledgeable tour guide, this three-hour walk-and-taste tour provides samples of some of the Island’s favorite foods and beverages and a bit of the city’s history as well. You will stop at various restaurants and a brew pub to taste fresh oysters, steamed mussels, craft beer, lobster rolls and more.

Charlottetown’s history will come alive through engaging stories about some of the city’s most fascinating people, buildings and events. Known as the Birthplace of Confederation, Charlottetown hosted the 1864 Conference that began the process of establishing Canada as an independent nation. Banquets and private lunches played a huge role in the success of the discussions, so food is something the Islanders take great pride in.

By the end of the tour, you will have a great sense of some of the Island’s most impressive, and memorable tastes.

Notes: There’s no time to shop while on the tour. Tour includes tastings of seafood and other items that might trigger allergies; participants with food allergies should inquire about ingredients while on the tour and use their own discretion. Some locations require climbing 10-20 stairs. Tour requires about two miles of walking; however, the most walking done at any given stretch is 10 minutes. Many of the tasting venues have seating available. Non-alcoholic beverages are available for guests under 19 years. Not advisable for guests using a wheelchair.

Our tour was at 11:00, so we went a little early to the meeting place to look around at the craft shops in the tourist center. They had a number of exhibits and a lot of maple syrup products for sale.

We met our guide. She was a native and had a lot of information about the town, its history, and how it is rebuilding since the 2022 Hurricane Fiona.

PEI used to have a fox breeding industry
St. Dunstan’s Basilica
Former warehouse for bootleg rum

I enjoyed listening to her. However, I was really looking forward to the tastings and I wasn’t disappointed.

Our first stop was The Gallery coffee house that featured local art work for sale. We had coffee and a dessert that she called a dolly square but I know them as magic squares – chocolate chips, coconut, and graham crackers.

Our second stop was the Old Dublin Pub. I had a light beer and Chuck had a dark beer. The food was local steamed mussels. Chuck didn’t want his mussels, so I got two servings. So good.

Our next stop was to sample some Prince Edward Island potatoes. A couple on our tour was from Idaho so there was some lively discussion on which potato was the best. I was just happy that the potatoes were in french fry form. We were served by the owner/operator of The Chip Shack. She wouldn’t tell us her secret recipe.

The last stop was the highlight – oysters and lobster. The waitstaff of the Lobster on the Wharf was excited, not only because the first cruise ship of the season had arrived, but it was also the first day of lobster season. We had a session on how to trap a lobster and then were treated to a mini lobster roll and raw oysters with wasabi sauce. Chuck didn’t want his oyster, so I got his. How lucky was I?

Our tour was finished at this point. Since it was only 2:00 pm and just a short walk back to the ship, some people stayed to order off the menu. We decided to go back to the ship. It was a good tour. We were never very far from the ship and the tour basically covered a few square blocks. Nice introduction to Charlottetown.

When we got back to the room, we found that we had received two gifts. One, the Casino had sent chocolate-covered strawberries. The other gift was a card that said our clocks would be moving backwards tonight. I couldn’t decide which one I liked best.

We relaxed on the balcony until it was time to get ready for the evening.

Travel Trivia

Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada (because I forgot to include it yesterday)

Sydney was founded in 1785 by the British, was incorporated as a city in 1904, and dissolved on 1 August 1995, when it was amalgamated into the regional municipality.

Sydney served as the Cape Breton Island’s colonial capital, until 1820, when the colony merged with Nova Scotia and the capital moved to Halifax.

Sydney Harbour played an important role during World War II as a Royal Canadian Navy base.

Sitting in front of the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion on the Sydney waterfront is the largest fiddle in the world! The fiddle stands tall at approximately 60 ft high.

The annual Celtic Colours International Festival is held throughout Cape Breton Island in October, with some of the concerts taking place in Sydney.

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Charlottetown was originally a French settlement called Port la Joie. It was renamed in honor of Queen Charlotte, wife of George, after the island passed to Britain in 1763.

Charlottetown is also known as the “Birthplace of Confederation” a name acquired in 1864, after the Charlottetown Conference which resulted in confederation and creation of Canada.

The Confederation Bridge that joins the two provinces of Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, is the longest bridge in the world over ice covered waters.

Charlottetown includes The Queens County Court House which was built in 1838 and is the oldest courthouse in Canada still standing.

Sydney, Nova Scotia

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Watched the sail away from Halifax in the Ocean Bar while listening to Cat. We had dinner in the main dining room again. I had the roasted chicken, and Chuck had the baby back ribs. I gave him some chicken in an exchange for a rib. Both were very good.

Rose’ Sangria

The Ocean Bar Band had the night off so we played some slots until time for the Comedian – Kelly MacFarland from Boston. I really laughed hard (even snorted once) at her routine, and it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a ship’s comedian so funny.

After the show, Chuck found a spot at the poker table and I came back to finish my photos.

Woke up at 7:30 again. Went for coffee and latte. I went outside just in time to see the pilot boat pulling aside to direct us into Sydney.

We had breakfast in the main dining room again. I typically get a small cranberry juice and then purchase a large fresh-squeezed orange juice. I drink these instead of coffee here. Today, our waiter got confused on what I ordered and mixed the two juices. Cran-Orange – not great but not bad. I also chose a new breakfast item – passion fruit yogurt – to try. It was very chewy with so much granola.

We were docked and cleared at 9:30. We left the ship about 10:00 and picked up a walking map at the information both. We toured the historical area and were able to go inside the St George church – oldest Anglican Church.

Street Art
Still piles of dirty snow in different places

We then headed to the shopping district and ran into another large protest group. There was also one in Halifax but this one seemed to have more people. Public Service Alliance of Canada appear to be on strike.

We turned to the waterfront area and walked the boardwalk back to the ship. We browsed shops and the craft market. We had our picture made by the giant violin.

We ate lunch in the Lido, and I came back to the room to work on photos. Chuck took a nap.

At five minutes to all-aboard time (5:00), I watched two HAL tour busses come wheeling in “hot” to let off tour groups. I could see shore excursion personnel talking on walk-in talkie- it’s now five minutes after five and then the last tour bus comes in just poking along – no worries. Once they got the passengers hustled aboard, the ship’s engines immediately fired up. Time to go. Time to get ready for the evening.

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Monday, April 24, 2023

We were early for our reservation, so we played some slots. Chuck chose the halibut. I chose filet mignon. We shared our entrees so we could both have surf and turf. We split an order of lobster mac n’ cheese.

After dinner, we went to the world stage. Tonight’s performance was a husband and wife singer/guitarist team. They specialized in songs that featured exceptional guitar work- ex. Jimmy Hendrix. We both thought the guitar-playing was excellent.

After the show was over, we went to the rock and roll set of the Ocean Bar band. Since we had no guided tour in Halifax, we were not worried about getting to the room early. We danced the night away.

I was surprised that it was only 7:30 when I woke up and that was with setting the clock forward. We had time to go to the main dining room for breakfast.

The officials cleared the ship at 9:15 a.m. We left the ship at 10:00 a.m.

In 2022, we took a tour to the Bay of Fundy and other sites outside of Halifax. With the sun out and the temperature pleasant today, the day appeared to be nice for a walk around Halifax.

We stopped at the information desk in the port and the attendant drew us a route to the Citadel and the public gardens. She said to be sure to stop in the public library as it had excellent panoramic views from the top floor.

Halifax is very hilly, and we got quite a workout making our way to the Citadel. The city is an interesting mixture of both old and new architecture. There was a lot of construction going on – most of it appeared to be new condos.

We did stop in the public library, and I was very impressed. It was very modern and spacious with five floors, two coffee shops, and a roof top garden. Their selection of books was immense. The tourism attendant was correct: the view was amazing from the roof top garden.

By the time we made it to the Citadel, we decided we were too tired to go further uphill to the public gardens.

We headed back down to the waterfront and walked the waterfront path back to the ship. Once we arrived back at the pier, I checked my Fitbit. We had only walked 4 miles total, but the hills were a challenge.

If we are ever fortunate enough to come back to Halifax again, maybe we’ll take the hop-on, hop-off bus and go to the public gardens and out to the Titanic graveyard.

After a Lido lunch, the rest of the afternoon was spent reading and relaxing on the balcony. I believe a little chair dozing was also involved.

Travel Trivia

Halifax, Nova Scotia

The first permanent European settlement in the region was on the Halifax Peninsula. The establishment of the Town of Halifax, named after the 2nd Earl of Halifax.

December 1917 saw one of the greatest disasters in Canadian history, when the SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship carrying munitions, collided with the Belgian Relief vessel SS Imo in “The Narrows” between upper Halifax Harbour and Bedford Basin. The resulting explosion, the Halifax Explosion, devastated the Richmond District of Halifax, killing approximately 2,000 people and injuring nearly 9,000 others. The blast was the largest artificial explosion before the development of nuclear weapons.

According to National Geographic, the world’s largest recorded lobster was a 44-pounder caught off the coast in 1977. It was believed by scientists to be at least 100 years old.

The Old Town Clock, a famous landmark, has been keeping time since 1803.

Halifax is closer to Dublin, Ireland than it is to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

The Fairview Lawn Cemetery has the world’s largest collective group of graves from the Titanic tragedy.

Location of the first official rules for ice hockey.

Bar Harbor didn’t want us but Portland did!

Sunday, April 23, 2023

We decided on an early dinner in the main dining room. We each had the grilled and chilled veggies, salmon chowder, and chicken cordon bleu.

After we listened to the first set of the Ocean Bar Band. We played some slots and then I went to the room. Chuck stayed to play some cards.

Our port today is Portland, Maine from 7:00 to 12:30. We were supposed to be in Bar Harbor today. Bar Harbor was the second port of the cruise that was replaced. I had read that Bar Harbor residents had voted recently to limit the number and size of cruise ships so maybe we didn’t make the cut.

We visited Bar Harbor during the Voyage of the Vikings and went to the Acadia National Park. For this visit, I was looking forward to spending more time in the town. Fellow passengers who had never visited Bar Harbor were really disappointed that we were not stopping there.

Being Sunday and a very short time in port, I wasn’t sure what would be available to do in Portland, so we decided to take a HAL tour to Kennebunkport. I was glad that Portland had a dock. Bar Harbor was going to be a tender port and loading and unloading the tender boats can be a long and tedious process.

We were up at 5:00 a.m. Room Service delivered breakfast at 6:00 a.m. Our 7:30 a.m. HAL excursion today was called –The Best of Maine: Portland Headlight & Kennebunkport.

The tour description: See two of Maine’s most famous destinations: the Portland Head Light and Kennebunkport.

Visit Fort Williams Park on the rocky coast of beautiful Cape Elizabeth. Fort Williams was a military outpost for coastal defense serving the United States from the Spanish-American War to the Korean War.

Don’t miss the Portland Head Light commissioned by George Washington in 1791 — the oldest lighthouse in Maine and one of the most photographed lighthouses in the country.

You will also stop in the charming coastal village of Kennebunkport to view stunning Federal- and Victorian-style homes built by wealthy sea captains and merchants in the 1700s and 1800s. Watch for the Wedding Cake House and Walker’s Point — the Bush estate and former Summer White House, which world leaders often visited.

Stretch your legs at Dock Square in the center of Kennebunkport, where art galleries, antique shops, and upscale stores make a charming town center.

Notes: Wear comfortable walking shoes. Tour requires walking approximately five minutes each way at the Portland Headlight.

The bus we were on was comfortable and roomy. We docked in the heart of the city of Portland. Our tour started with traveling around Portland and viewing different sites, including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s childhood home.

Longfellow’s childhood home

We crossed the draw bridge and entered the city of South Portland where they built Liberty ships in WWII. Our destination was the town of Cape Elizabeth to see Fort Williams and the Portland Headlight – the oldest lighthouse in the state and the 2nd oldest in the United States. We did have some gorgeous views.

I wish I hadn’t had to use the restroom because the only facilities available at this stop were port-a-potties and they were gag-enducing. However, I knew my bladder could not wait for another hour to the next rest stop so in I went. I believe I set the world record for holding my breath.

Once we left that stop, we crossed back over the draw bridge and took the interstate to Kennebunkport. The guide said the name meant “long cut bank.”

As we were heading to the town, he was trying to give us information, but it was hard to hear him sometimes because two women would not stop chatting with each other. Then they would periodically have to ask him to repeat things. That situation is not the first time it has happened on tours. In my opinion, it is rude to carry on private conversations during a tour even if you are not interested in the information. They did get “shushed” a few times.

Once we got near the downtown area, we drove around and saw interesting houses (including the one that was used in the filming of “Dark Shadows”) and more beautiful scenery.

House from Dark Shadows

We saw the Walker ‘s Point Estate (known locally as the George Bush compound – summer White House) from a distance. The guide said the Bush’s do still use the houses during the summer months. You know that they are in residence if the American flag is flying. Secret Service stay there all the time.

Secret Service vehicles

Once we stopped in the town, we were allowed an hour and a half to walk around Kennebunkport – perusing the shops and looking at the buildings.

Most of the restaurants were not scheduled to open until noon or after so the people who wanted to eat a Maine lobster roll were disappointed because we had to leave at 11:45. We were fortunate to have had a wonderful lobster roll and blueberry pie in Bar Harbor, so we were okay settling for homemade treats and hot coffee on this trip at H. B. Provisions.

Once our time was over, we rode back through picturesque farmland on US Route 1 which ends (or starts) in Key West, Florida.

We arrived back to the ship at 12:45 which was fifteen minutes past the “all aboard” time. I wasn’t worried. As I mentioned, we were on a HAL sponsored tour so if they had left – they would have to figure out how to get 40 people to Halifax.

When we got back to the room, we discovered that the HAL appreciation tiles had been delivered along with the laundry. The laundry came with a nice note thanking us for using the service.

However, we also got a note telling us to set our clocks forward an hour tonight. 😒

We went to the Lido for lunch, and I got a bowl of very good seafood chowder.

We watched the sail-away, played some slots, and then I went to the room to download my photos to the laptop.

Time passed quickly and it was soon time to get ready for our Pinnacle Grill dinner.

Travel Trivia

Maine – The Pine Tree State

The original inhabitants of the territory that is now Maine were Algonquian-speaking Wabanaki peoples, including the Passamaquoddy, Maliseet, Penobscot, Androscoggin, and Kennebec.

European contact with what is now called Maine may have started around 1200 CE when Vikings are believed to have interacted with the native Penobscot in present-day Hancock County, Maine. The first European confirmed settlement in modern-day Maine was in 1604 on Saint Croix Island, led by French explorer Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Mons.

The territory of Maine was confirmed when the United States was formed following the Treaty of Paris ending the revolution.

Maine officially became the 23rd state on March 15, 1820.

In 1873, Chester Greenwood, a 15-year-old resident of Farmington, Maine, invented earmuffs when he was looking for a solution to chilly ears. He patented the first design of his earmuffs in 1877 and later went on to make improvements.

West Quoddy Head, in Lubec, Maine, is the easternmost point of land in the 48 contiguous states.

Maine has more than 60 lighthouses. The Portland Head Light is the oldest lighthouse in the state and was the first lighthouse completed after independence from the British. It was completed in 1791 and was automated in 1989.

Freeport, Maine is the home to the L.L. Bean Company, the first retail clothier to be open 24/7/365, founded in 1912.

Joan Benoit Samuelson from Cape Elizabeth, Maine was the first-ever women’s Olympic Games marathon winner. She won the Gold medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

Maine is the only state in the United States whose name has one syllable.

It is the only state bordered on three sides by Canada.

Maine Lobster yield annually is 40 million pounds, nearly 90 percent of the nation’s lobster supply.

Maine produces 90% of the country’s toothpick supply.

Maine’s coastline has so many deep harbors it could provide anchorage for all the Navy fleets in the world.

Portland, Maine

Native Americans originally called the Portland peninsula Machigonne (“Great Neck”).

Portland was named for the English Isle of Portland, and the city of Portland, Oregon, was in turn named for Portland, Maine.

The first European settler was Capt. Christopher Levett, an English naval captain who was granted 6,000 acres in 1623 to found a settlement in Casco Bay (now Portland).

In 1820, Maine was established as a state with Portland as its capital. In 1832, the capital was moved north and East to Augusta.

In 1851, Maine led the nation by passing the first state law prohibiting the sale of alcohol except for “medicinal, mechanical or manufacturing purposes.” The law subsequently became known as the Maine Law, as 18 states quickly followed. On June 2, 1855, the Portland Rum Riot occurred.

The Civil War came to Maine’s doorstep in 1863. The Battle of Portland Harbor—a conflict that was started by a group of undercover Confederates—took place on June 27. Led by Lieutenant Charles Read, the southerners decided to sneak into Portland’s Casco Bay and steal a federal cutter, the USRC Caleb Cushing. But before long, news reached federal authorities, who sent four Union ships out to capture them. Read was eventually forced to surrender and was imprisoned.

No transatlantic port in the U.S. is closer to Europe than Portland.

Acclaimed poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and author Stephen King were both born in Portland.

The world’s largest independently owned bookstore can be found in Portland’s historic Pioneer Square.

Like Bigfoot? Visit the International Cryptozoology Museum. In 2003, Loren Coleman established this unique museum inside of a Portland house he’d purchased. Visitors can see stuffed jackalopes, yeti footprint casts, and a fully-furred Bigfoot model.

Boston, Massachusetts

Saturday, April 22, 2023

After I got back to the room from the Tech presentation, Chuck was back from playing cards and meeting new friends. We got ready for the evening and went to the casino. We were having fun on the slots and time got away from us. Decided to have a late dinner at the Lido – we both chose steak and fried shrimp (Chuck also snagged a small pork chop).

After dinner, we listened to Cat play for a while, but the Ocean Bar band was not going to play until 9:45. Since tomorrow was our first port day, we called it a night.

We got up at 6:30 and after coffee and breakfast in the Lido, we watched the sail-in to Boston. The jets landing at Logan seemed very close to the port. So very loud.

See the Goose by the jet wing? I hope he made it.

The officials cleared our ship at 8:20 and we walked off at 8:45.

The last time we were in Boston was in July of 2022 for the Voyage of the Vikings. We came in two days before embarkation since that was Chuck’s first time to Boston. On that visit, we walked the Freedom Trail from beginning to end and back – a total of about 9 miles. Today, we were not going to be that ambitious.

The Beginning
The End

We hadn’t really had any set plans as we were going to wait to see what the weather was like. It was a cold, blustery day but we dressed in layers. Topped with jackets and hats, we were warm enough. Since it was not raining, that was a plus.

Out of the port area, we walked down the sidewalk and found an Old Town Trolley kiosk. We decided that the Hop-On / Hop-Off trolley would be our transportation for the day and bought two tickets. We probably could have saved some money if we had decided earlier on what we wanted to do and bought the tickets online. Oh well.

The narrator of the trolley was very good. As we passed by each stop, he gave us a lot of information about Boston and its history that we didn’t get walking the Freedom Trail. He was also funny.

The downside – since it was so cold – the plastic sheeting was down over the open trolley windows, so my photos weren’t the best.

Zaandam in port
One example of the many pieces of street art
“Quoth the raven nevermore.”
Famous Oriental Company Teapot that now hangs at a Starbucks

We stayed on the trolley for most of the stops just enjoying the views and listening to the information. However, we did get off at the Public Gardens and the Boston Commons since we didn’t spend any time at either site last July. The gardens were pretty with the tulips in bloom and the Swan Boats were in business.

Thought it was Paul Revere – It’s George Washington

We stopped and watched as people marched through the Commons protesting the consumption of meat and touting the vegan lifestyle. I am glad all the hotdog vendors did not throw anything at them.

The trolley dropped us back at the port around 1:30. We ate lunch in the Lido restaurant and then spent some time in the hot tub at the Lido pool.

I like the hot tubs in the Sea View area better than the Lido area, but it was too windy to go to them. I was glad that HAL had the retractable roof open just a little in the Lido pool area so it was not as stuffy as it can get in there.

After a relaxing time in the hot tub, we got hot chocolates to take back to the room and a nap until dinner. Love the ship life.

Travel Trivia

Massachusetts – The Bay State

Massachusetts was originally inhabited by tribes of the Algonquian language family such as the Wampanoag, Narragansett, Nipmuc, Pocomtuc, Mahican, and Massachusett. Early explorers visited the coast of Massachusetts in 1497. The first English settlers in Massachusetts, the Pilgrims, arrived on the Mayflower at Plymouth in 1620.

On April 19, 1775, the Revolutionary War began with the Battles of Lexington and Concord.

Massachusetts became the sixth state to join the United States on February 6, 1788.

James Naismith invented basketball in 1891 at the International YMCA Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Also in 1891, Fig Newtons were invented in Cambridge, Massachusetts and named after Newton, Massachusetts. They were almost called “Fig Shrewsbury,” but Newton won.

The chocolate chip cookie was invented by Ruth Graves Wakefield and her husband in 1930 in the Toll House Restaurant in Whitman, Massachusetts.

Earl Tupper of Grafton Massachusetts invented Tupperware and marketed his products to the public in 1946 as a giveaway with cigarettes.

Dunkin Donuts was founded in Quincy, Massachusetts in 1950 and opened its first franchise restaurant in Dedham, Massachusetts in 1955. It sold 52 varieties of donuts.

Lake Chargogagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg is a lake in the town of Webster, Massachusetts. It is located near the Connecticut border and has a surface area of 1,442 acres. The name derives from the Loup dialect, which is an Algonquian language. The locals call it Webster Lake.

Massachusetts is one of the nation’s leading producers of cranberries.

It is illegal to use tomatoes in clam chowder in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts is located along the Atlantic Flyway, a major route for migratory waterfowl.

Mount Holyoke College, the first college established for women, was founded in 1837 in South Hadley, Massachusetts, as the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary. The founder was Mary Lyon, a pioneer in education for women.

Boston, Massachusetts

About 13% of Boston citizens commute by foot, giving it the highest percentage of pedestrian commuters in major cities of the United States.

The first post office in America opened in Boston in 1639.

The Boston Fire Department (1678) is the oldest in the United States.

The Boston Pilgrims won the first World Series over the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1903.

From May 15, 2003, to April 10, 2013, the Boston Red Sox sold out every home game at Fenway Park—a total of 820 games—setting a record in the sport’s world.

The Boston Public Library, the first public library in the United States, was founded in 1849.

Boston is the only state capital in the contiguous United States to have an ocean coastline.

The Big Dig rerouted Boston’s main highway into a 3.5-mile tunnel due to traffic congestion. The Central Artery (I-93)—designed for 75,000 cars—had over 190,000 vehicles pass over it per day. The project cost an estimated $22 billion with interest, making it the most expensive highway project in US history.

Boston Common, established in 1634, is the oldest public park in the United States.

Boston University Bridge is one of the only places in the world that a boat can sail under a train passing under a car driving under an airplane.

The oldest restaurant in continuous service in the United States is Boston’s The Union Oyster House, established in 1826.

On January 15, 1919, a 55-foot steel tank filled with 2,319,525 gallons of molasses ripped apart, releasing a 13,000-ton wave on Boston’s North End that destroyed nearby houses, vehicles, businesses, apartment buildings, and more. It took over six months to clean up and caused over 40 injuries and 21 deaths. Until it finally faded away in 1995, the smell of molasses still permeated through Boston on hot days.

Trivia provided by Wikipedia.

Newport, RI? Nope – Sea Day #3

Friday, April 21, 2023

After playing some slots and listening to Cat in the Ocean Bar, we headed for the main dining room for dinner.

I chose the Cod and Chuck chose the flat iron steak topped with chimichurri sauce (an Argentinian sauce made of finely chopped parsley usually mixed with red wine vinegar, garlic, salt, black pepper, oregano, red pepper flakes, and sunflower or olive oil. Some recipes add shallot or onion, and lemon juice.)

The food was very good, and the service was much faster tonight.

We went to the world stage to see tonight’s show – Mark Yaffee, comedian. This is the first show that HAL has offered on this cruise that we hadn’t already seen on other ships. I thought he was okay. Chuck thought “meh.”

After the show was over, we went to the Crow’s Nest where the Orange Party was going strong. At least once every cruise, HAL hosts an Orange Party to celebrate its Dutch Heritage. Guests are asked to wear something orange but you are not turned away if you do not. Officers, staff, and guests mingled and the Ocean Bar band played. The dance floor was crowded.

This year the Orange Parties are even more meaningful for HAL since it is the 150th anniversary of its first sailing. The pastry chef on board even created a special cake.

Once again, we discovered that cruising can be a small world. When we were dancing, a woman stopped us and said she remembered us from the South Pacific Cruise. We were always in the BB King lounge when they were. Then, when we sat down and ordered a drink, the server said “Hello, Mr. Chuck – it’s me Esmerelda from the VOV cruise.” We were delighted to see her again. She and Mayo always took such good care of us in the Ocean Bar. This cruise, she was working the bar in the Crow’s Nest and she said Mayo had transferred to the HAL Koningsdam ship.

We spent our time alternately dancing and chatting with other people until the party wound down, and then we headed to our room.

Today, we were scheduled to arrive in Newport, Rhode Island. I was looking forward to this port as it was a new one for us, and we had a guided walking tour of the cliffs and then a guided tour of The Breakers (a home of the Vanderbilts) scheduled.

However, a couple of weeks before the cruise began, we were notified that two of our ports were being replaced. This port was one of them.

Since this port was being replaced with a sea day, we slept until 8:00. There were no morning presentations that I wanted to attend so after coffee and breakfast, we decided to walk a mile around the ship.

Wow! The weather certainly had changed from yesterday. Yesterday, it was chilly but pleasant. Today, it was very windy and cold. We only made it one lap and we were ready to go back inside. Time for me to pack up my shorts and t-shirts and get out my jeans and sweatshirts.

With no big plans for the day until the late afternoon Tech presentation, I grabbed the HAL blanket that was provided in the room, my hat, jacket, another vanilla latte, and my book and relaxed on the balcony periodically scanning for whales that the Captain said we might see beginning today. The sides and roof of the balcony did a good job of blocking most of the wind.

I was hoping for whales but, at this point, I would be happy to see a bird or even another ship. The Atlantic can be just as desolate as the Pacific.

However, I did get my binoculars and camera out just in case a whale popped up. This area is known for the endangered North Atlantic right whale. The Captain said it was doubtful that we’d see one but if you did happen to see a spout in a V shape instead of straight up – it’s the right whale. But there was more of a chance of spotting a humpback.

Because we were in right whale territory, the ship was also only allowed to sail at 10 knots from now until Boston. Felt like we were crawling but it’s better than striking a whale.

I never did spot a whale, but it probably would have helped if I hadn’t gone to sleep in the chair. I woke with a start, realized I had slept through lunch (the horror) and I needed to get ready to go to the next Tech presentation.

Sea Day #2

Thursday, April 20, 2023

It was crowded in the main dining room, but we were shown a table for two near one of the rear windows. I thought being at a table for two might make the service faster since service on dressy nights is usually slower than regular nights because of the crowds. Nope. Still slow. Took two hours for the whole meal service. Sigh.

The meal was delicious though. Chuck had the sole. I had the rack of lamb. We split a piece of Dutch apple pie.

After dinner, we went to the Ocean bar to hear Cat play the piano and then dance to two sets of the Ocean Bar Band. Before we knew it, the clock was striking midnight.

Needless to say, I didn’t wake up until 7:30. I went to the Exploration’s Cafe just to check on the coffee situation, and they were back in business. Great start to the morning!

Once we finished breakfast in the main dining room, I went to another presentation from the Future Cruise Consultant. She announced the 2025 World Cruise and a new 2025 Grand Voyage going to both Antarctica and the Arctic Circle in the same trip. Those two cruises are each over 100 days – too long for us. Pumpkin would disown us. She did show a couple of regular cruises that looked interesting.

Unfortunately, during the presentation, the Officer in Charge came over the loudspeaker and summoned the medical team for an emergency. Never found what the emergency was.

The next presentation was by the Shore Excursion manager. Of course, she spent most of the time talking about the various HAL shore excursions available, but she did mention some alternatives if you didn’t want one of their excursions.

I was glad to hear that there would be walking maps available at the ports. She also said that since April is just the beginning of the New England – Canada cruise season that the tourism infrastructure might be limited – ie. shops and restaurants still closed.

The Lido was having a special Bar-B-Que corner for lunch, in addition to the other items they offered, so we went for the pulled pork sliders and the ribs. Excellent.

Another Tech presentation and more relaxing on the balcony with my book rounded out the afternoon.

Time to get ready for the evening.

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