It was my birthday and time for a cruise. We always search on price- and this one came up. We have cruised many times and were now in the range of "senior discounts" - so why not try Holland America?
Quebec City is a great port. The airport was well run and we got a connecting flight via Philadelphia. Rooms the night before were on sale at the lovely Fairmont as they are finishing up a major construction project. Take a cab from the airport - $35 CDN or so. Brunch was amazing and the view was great but bring $$.
We decided our theme was to visit local microbrew establishments for lunch. Usually this is paired with fun local food- how can you go wrong?
Boarding was a breeze. Do not board at 12-1 there is a crush. At 2PM there was no one in line so it took five minutes. Our luggage beat us to the room. I rolled the dice on run of the ship outside cabins @399 and got a large cabin on the promenade deck. Note there is a real wraparound teak deck here- these are rare any more and a real luxury if you like walks. DH had major privacy concerns so I went to the desk and mentioned please a cabin change and we will gladly pay and they came back with a nice deal on an aft balcony as they were not full.
We found Bar L'Inox on Grand-Allee a few blocks from the ship who had a nice local selection and these delightful "Euro hot dogs" served in steamed French rolls. On the way back Café Artefact (near the ship) had a live singer and another local creation on tap and we returned for lunch.
We were completely happy to see there were real live musicians in all of the venues on the ship. Yes it is true hardly anyone dances any more but the three young guys in the Oceans Bar (who were contracted individually and really building a nice sound) captivated us for the week and they did not play too loudly which was also nice. The beer selection aboard did not reflect modern trends at all so shore leave was mandatory.
Prince Edward Island was nice- they wheeled in 15 boxes of the local mussels for lunch - mmm. There was a super cool knitting /sweater shop in town and a thriving local brew pub - The Gayhan House. Sidney had two nice places - we found the Old Triangle- the curry is fabulous and the Big Spruce IPA was very local. In Halifax it is tricky- this is a "corporate" beer town - you have to ask at the door for local microbrews. After four or five stops we found the Waterfront Warehouse- they also have good crab cakes.
We had to smile - they were making a major effort to work on some exterior painting - so you could tell where we were to dock by the rented lift cranes on the pier. These "S-Class" are well designed ships- and the crew was smiling and friendly. We were relieved that they were very strict about self service in the Lido- many people do not bother to use hand sanitizer and this was a good public health step. The water for tea was not very hot- this sounds like an insurance issue. Maybe we can sign a waiver and get access to boiling water.
Bar Harbor was charming - we found a few crew and many locals in the Side Street Café. The chef could not really figure out Lobster Rolls so just gave you a piece of bread loaded with lobster. Finally, Boston was packed with tourists and nice places to eat.
Fares were so low quite a few Canadians took the ship round trip- it was cheaper than driving. This seems like a good idea. If you miss Farcus decorating or parades there are other lines but we like these guys.