Nice cruise, but getting back to the ship at 3:30 really limits all your port time. More later. We are a family of 4 of average sophistication.
We flew into Montreal the day before and took the 747 bus to our hotel. Very reasonable and it includes a 24 hour metro pass. We stayed at the Intercontinental which had the subway and walkable malls underneath. We took the train out to Olympic park and Mount Royal Park. We walked to Old Montreal and Basilica Notre Dame. Boy, they love their taxes up there. %15 sales tax for starters.
We boarded the ship about noon and were able to drop off our bags in our veranda suite. We liked that we weren't bombarded with beer and wine packages. The ship is smaller and not overwhelming. I would say there weren't more than 20 kids on the ship. It was mostly seniors, who were great! They weren't the cranky ones. These were the greatest generation type, who always had a smile and/or nice comments for our kids.
The food, especially the seafood, was very disappointing the first 2 nights. The Pinacle restaurant,$25 per person, had fantastic food. I understand the quality difference between the pay extra Pinnacle restaurant and main dining room, I get that, but the dining room seafood those first 2 nights,was inedible. We had open seating for those 2 nights,after some constructive complaints about the food, we were then switched to a set dining time and things improved greatly. Kudos to ARVEE. . In the dinning room, It seemed Holland America sometimes out fancy-ed themselves on many dishes.ie.."Frisee, watercress and mache tossed with sour cherry vinaigrette topped with miso-brushed duck breast,poached egg, walnuts,dried cherries and tarragon." Really? How bout a steak medium? The Lido buffet served mostly the same diners as in the Rottingham dinning room. So if you didn't like it, oh well.
Quebec City-We took a city bus out to Montmorency Falls. Way cool! We walked around the City the rest of the short time in port.Yeah, the Fontenac was impressive but I found the City confining and it was very frustrating trying to read French inscriptions on statues and signs or to even communicate with service people who only spoke French, with attitude. The French lost the war and the Treaty of 1763 ceded all of Canada to the British, but somehow the French language stayed. Not a lot of bilingual effort to accommodate millions of English speaking visitors spending all that Canadian money, which by the way has English nobility on it.
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Kinda boring. Rented a car. The #1 site is the Ann of Green Gables re-created homestead. There seems to be several of these Ann of Green Gables sites.
Sydney-The top part of Nova Scotia-rented a car. Only had time to do half the Cabot trail,plus they charge $20 to cut through the national park. Nice scenery.Saw Glace Bay where Marconi sent the first Trans Atlantic wireless.
Hallifax-The bottom part of Nova Scotia- rented a car. Titanic cemetery, Peggy's Cove(Try to get there before the tour buses) Way cool again! Point pleasant park and Maritime/Titanic museum. A lot of traffic down by the dock.
Bar Harbor-Rented a car and toured Acadia National Park. We also did a plane ride, $180 for the 4 of us,over the park, Cadillac Mountain and Bar Harbor.
Boston-Got out of there ASAP because of their mayor.
The comedian on the ship,John Joseph was hysterical and clean. The other entertainment was pretty bad. Maybe we aren't song and dance people. We tried to play bingo a few times but they always started a few minutes early and we missed out. We did a couple of trivia contests only to be beaten by large groups of adults exceeding the maximum number of players per group(6)who seemed very proud of themselves cheating to win a pin. The dress code was enforced at dinner, which was good to see. I know you're on vacation, but who can't dress up a couple of times. The women especially dig the 2 formal nights. I brought my tux of which there were a handful of others.
The only real disappointing part of the cruise was the short port times. I see no reason why we had to be back at the ship at 3:30. It's not like we had to race to get to the next port which was only hours away. 5 PM would have been fine.