This was our 4th cruise on HAL but this time we were in a Neptune Suite.
We flew the red-eye from Vancouver to Toronto to Laguardia.
Bags were tagged straight through to LGA.
In Toronto, they have streamlined the process. Step 1:You go to this area where they scan your boarding pass, Step 2: fill in your US immigration form, Step 3: Look for your name to appear on the screen + proceed to the agent.
They have revamped the departure gates. Some gates have virtually no seating area. Also, they frequently change the gate number, so listen for the announcements + watch the board.
There were storms in New York so our flight was delayed for takeoff because the airport was congested.
We arrived one hr late but we had HAL transfers so the rep was waiting for us.
When we arrived at the Manhattan terminal, a downpour started.
As a suites guest, you get to wear a badge that says Suites so people don't get mad at you for going ahead of them.
The room was ready so we went there to drop off our hand luggage.
The bathroom had one shower + a whirlpool bathtub ( only fit 1 person though ).
The stateroom had a king bed + full size sofa + 2 armchairs.
The verandah was a long rectangular shape with two chairs with ottomans + a round table with 4 chairs.
We really enjoyed the amenities of the Neptune Lounge + the services of the Concierge.
I don't know why I read previous posts that there was nothing to eat.
There was a nice spread throughout the day.
ie Breakfast was white bread, bagels, English muffins with a toaster for use. Jams, marmalades, nutella, some other toast spreads I didn't recognize, fresh fruit slices, whole fruit, cereal, yogurt, granola/fruit parfaits, smoked salmon etc.
Continental Breakfast 7 am to 10:30 am
Midday Snacks 11 am to 2:30 pm
Afternoon tea 3 pm to 5 pm
Canapes 5 pm - 8:15 pm
The Pinnacle Grill was also available for breakfast.
The Mariner Society Lunch is from 11:30 am to 1 pm in the Rembrandt dining room.
At 3pm, they had a Smooth Sailing Presentation: Make the Most of Your Cruise. It was an overview of what the cruise had to offer and some helpful tips. I wish all cruise lines had this.
Muster Drill was at 4 pm out on deck. It was the shortest drill I have ever attended.
Everyday, they screened the same movie continuously from 10 am to 10 pm. It was also shown on your stateroom tv.
For music, they had Adagio playing classical music, BB King Blues Club nightly in the Queens Lounge, Guitar Vocalist Johnny Champagne, Lynn & the HAL Cats, Pianist Entertainer Diane Fast.
We were on As You Wish dining. They only allow reservations 3 days in advance. We never got reservations for dinner but finally were able to have lunch in the MDR on a port day.
On a port day, we would usually breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill, return to the ship for a late lunch + then have a pre-show snack in the Lido Buffet before the 8 pm show.
One complaint is that the Lido Buffet is closed from 8:30 pm to 10:30 pm. So then, there is nothing to eat unless you want pizza or room service. After a few days of this, then we would grab some snacks from the Neptune Lounge before dinner + stash it in our fridge for later.
On formal nights or sea days, there are a lot of special events so you may not want to schedule specialty dining on those day.
HAL only serves sustainable seafood.
Mass is celebrated daily.
The Cruise Director is J.T. Watters from Tampa, Florida.
He's not long-winded like other cruise directors. After the show each evening, he just wishes you a pleasant evening. That's all !
The Lido Deck has a retractable roof so it can be closed at night or in inclement weather which makes it easier to still hold events there.
A note for Canadians: you will clear Canadian immigration at the 1st Canadian port of call. Before that port, you will need to complete a Canadian customs + immigration form. After that, anything you purchase will be subject to duty + taxes. So, if you're buying anything onboard, do it before you complete the form or factor it into the form. This also means that if you have a super early flight on disembarkation day, that is not a problem because you already cleared Canadian customs early on in the cruise.
Day 2 - at sea - Formal
Royal Dutch Tea, Behind the Scenes Kitchen Tour, Internet Minute Prize Giveaway ( do not need to be present to win ), Thermal Suite Cruise Pass $ 349 for couple, $ 249 for single.
Day 3 - Boston
Boston Port Authority offers shuttle service from the pier to the Harborwalk area from 8 am to 4 pm. $ 10 one way or $ 15 return.
Day 4 - Bar Harbor ( this was the only tender port )
There is a free Island shuttle, pay $ 5 for the Park Pass to go to Acadia National Park. It's hop on, hop off, 30 minutes wait between buses. You should be off the ship 1st thing in the morning in order to enjoy the park fully. First bus departs at 9:15 am. The shuttle doesn't go to Cadillac Mountain. Someone said that Oli's Trolley goes there.
New England Clam Bake - 12 pm to 2 pm on Lido Deck 9, English Afternoon Tea
Showtime - Cape Breton Trio
Turn your clocks 1 hour forward tonight.
Day 5 - Halifax ( sales tax in Nova Scotia is 14% )
Some historic sites downtown, nice waterfront area with free wifi.
If you do the hop on, hop off, there will be long lines especially if there are other ships in port.
There are several shops in the Civilization Museum.
Filipino Crew show
Day 6 - Sydney
Fiddlin' Flapjack Breakfast - 7 am to 9:3 am concert featuring the Cape Breton Trio
Most of the attractions are outside Sydney. You definitely need to take a tour , hire a taxi or rent a car.
The downtown area is verrry sleepy !
Poutine Bar - 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm on Lido Deck 9
De Librije dinner is held on Day 6. This is only held on the Eurodam, Zuiderdam and other select ships.
De Librije, a Michelin 3 star restaurant in the Netherlands, has evolved an idiosyncratic cuisine, rooted in selected regional products, enhanced by state-of-the-art cooking techniques & reciprocal Asian touches. Creating modern innovative dishes & reinventing gastronomic classics. Everything on your plate will be edible. $ 49 per person. You can add a 2 oz wine taster per course for $ 69 per person or add full glasses of wine ( didn't get the cost ).
Amuse Bouche - North Sea Scallop
Appetizer - Maine Lobster with Green Bean Coulis, Oysters on the Beach or Goat Cheese with Hazelnut
Soup - Lobster Bisque Foam or Chilled Clear Tomato Gazpacho
Entree - Seared North Sea Cod with Speck Ham, Duo of Lamb Loin & Crusted Lamb Neck, North Sea Turbot with Iberico Ham or Broiled Beef Tenderloin
Dessert - Deconstructed Apple Pie, Rice Chocolate Stones or Assortment of Sorbets
It was a delightful meal.
Day 7 - Charlottetown
Free wifi in the terminal.
In the morning, we walked off the ship, toured the downtown area, walked to Victoria Park to Government House ( the residence of the Lieutenant-Governor ). It was a nice sunny day.
In the afternoon, we took the Island's Finest with Anne of Green Gables tour. This tour takes you to the Island Preserves Company for a 3 course lobster lunch, then onto the house of the cousins of Anne of Green Gables. You only get 45 minutes here + you could actually spend a whole day here.
Day 8 - at sea - Formal
Sep 19 + 20: Tamarind Sushi Lunch $ 7.50 per person includes appetizer, sushi/sashimi and dessert
Tamarind also offers Pan-Asian fare. Lunch is complimentary. Dinner is $ 15 per person.
Pinnacle Grill has lunch for $ 10 per person or dinner for $ 25 per person.
Canaletto offers dinner for $ 10 per person.
On Deck for a Cause at 1 pm, Chatting with the Stripes at 2 pm, Indonesian Tea Ceremony at 3 pm
Turn your clocks 1 hour back tonight.
It will be very picturesque around 3 am sailing into Saguenay. Normally, you would have another opportunity when sailing out at 5 pm but our departure was delayed until 10:15 pm due to gale force winds so we missed the opportunity.
Day 9 - Saguenay ( sales tax is 15% )
We had gale force winds ( 7 on the Beaufort scale ). Captain almost cancelled the call but with persistence, was able to dock the ship safely.
They have a hop on, hop off that starts at 9 am + runs every 10 minutes. There are 2 routes. One around La Baie with a 60 min loop, one to Chicoutimi with a 75 min loop. Both loops only cost $ 15.
Shops + attractions open at 11 am. Locals are very welcoming and friendly, speaking good English. Downtown area is small + interesting with many locals selling their own crafts. So at 5 pm, it was still too windy to safely undock, so we waited until 10:15 pm to depart.
There was also a Crystal ship that came in the morning + decided to cancel the call.
Also, the Le Boreal, a small yacht-like ship came in the early afternoon. They had to tender + they also stayed late into the evening, around 8 pm. We watched the tender bobbing in the water.
Cupcake Afternoon Tea at 3 pm, Market-style cheese buffet 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm on Lido Deck 9, Dessert Extravaganza: photo-taking at 10:15 pm, eating from 10:30 pm to 11:30 pm on Lido Deck 9
Day 10 - Quebec City
Since Saguenay and Quebec City are so close, we were only 30 mins late arriving into port.
When doing your online check in, they charge $ 0.25 per page for printing. The online check in should take approx 4 minutes per person.
Free wifi in the terminal.
The downtown is very walkable, lots of historic sights.
Day 11 - Disembarkation
Expedited disembarkation is from 3 am to 7 am.
Regular disembarkation starts at 7 am.
If you get downstairs + there are no taxis, pick up the white phone on the wall.
If the line is busy, keep trying until someone answers.
It is about 25 mins to the airport.
It is a flat rate to YQB $ 35 Canadian or you can also pay in USD. The taxi driver will ask you which currency you will use.
The airport check in counters open at 4 am & there is nothing to do once you get past security.
Boarding is 30 mins prior to departure.
Print & Digital Photos. There are 4 Value Packages. Valid for guests in one stateroom only.
Any 5 activity photos plus digital files $ 99.95
Any 5 portrait photos plus digital files $ 199.95
All your photos taken during the cruise $ 349.95
All your photos plus digital files $ 449.95
We really enjoyed the ship + the itinerary. I see that the Eurodam is doing slightly different ports next year ( omitting Bar Harbor ) and adding Saint John, Portland on some itineraries. That'll be interesting.