Canada/New England Cruise - Eurodam - 9-11 to 9-22-08
Pre-cruise: We flew to Quebec via Newark with no problems. The flight from Newark to Quebec was on a smaller, commuter jet and my larger carry-on had to be "gate-checked". I had another small bag with my book and other things I wanted on the flight so that was not an inconvenience to me. Once arriving in Quebec, we went through immigration and customs and retrieved our bags very quickly. We also had no wait for a cab. The ride to our hotel (Hotel Champlain, 115 Rue St. Ann) cost $32.50 plus tip. Our room at the hotel was lovely. It was more like a small apartment, with a kitchen area, a living room area with a flat panel TV and a fireplace, and a sleeping area. We found a lovely restaurant, Relis Place De Armes on St. Ann for dinner. After dinner we walked over to the boardwalk area near the Hotel Frontenac and saw the Eurodam docked below us. A lovely start to our vacation.
Thursday, 9/11/08: This morning we had a lovely continental breakfast at the hotel, which was included in the room price. After breakfast, we walked around the area getting some great pictures as it was a beautiful, sunny day. Around 11:00am, we checked out and took a taxi to the ship. The fare was $7.60 plus tip. We dropped our bags off and walked right into the "Check In" area. Again we had no wait. From there we were directed to a lounge where we waited maybe 10 minutes before we were able to board. All in all, from the time we checked out of the hotel to the time we boarded the ship, it was about 1 hour. They asked us not to go to our cabins until 1:30pm. We had a leisurely lunch in the Lido. After lunch, we made a reservation for later in the cruise for the Pinnacle Grill and also made reservations for tonight's dinner. We have "As You Wish Dining", but the dining staff recommended making a reservation for dinner, at least for the first night. While we waited for our friends to arrive, we visited the Casino to get information about the "cashless" slots. (Actually, you can put cash in, but all proceeds are transferred to your room key card.) We then went to the port talk. They gave a brief synopsis of all the ship's tours. I also signed up for Internet Service. If you do this on the first day, they give you extra minutes. I also bought a Soda Card, which cost $18 plus 15% gratuity and allowed for 20 glasses of soda (Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, etc.) Dinner was wonderful. I had the prime rib and Bill had the chicken. We all had the "Apple Blossom" - apple tart with ice cream - for dessert. We finished off the evening by going to the show which was a preview of the singers and dancers and 3 mini-games with audience participation which were quite funny. This concluded our first day onboard the Eurodam. We stay docked in Quebec overnight.
Friday, 9/12/08: Today we were still docked in Quebec. We took a ship's tour - "Old and New Quebec". The bus made 2 stops: the Battlefield Park and near the Hotel Frontenac. The weather today was cool and overcast. We were glad that we had the opportunity to take some pictures yesterday. Right after we got on the bus at the last stop, the rain started. This afternoon they had the lifeboat drill. 30 minutes prior to the time of the drill, they made an announcement in the cabin. You are expected to be at your lifeboat station with your life jacket on at the time the drill starts. They checked attendance by calling cabin numbers. It was rather cold and rainy on deck during the drill, but it didn't take too long. Shortly after the drill was finished, we sailed away from Quebec. This evening was the first formal night. We wanted to eat around 6pm, but when I called for a reservation, they only offered 5:15 or 8pm. We decided to just go to the dining room around 6pm. We walked right in, no wait for a table for 4. After dinner, we listened to some of the music in the lounges and then went to the show, "Nightlife" with the singers and dancers. It was very enjoyable. Tomorrow - Saguenay.
Saturday, 9/13/08: Today we visited Saguenay, Quebec. This was the first of our 3 tender ports. It is a small community, but the people were very gracious. As everyone from the ship walked from the tender to the pier, the locals gave us a blueberry chocolate - delicious. We had a tour called the "Heritage Route". We stopped at a museum which was in an old church and two other sights. This is a "company" town built by the people who ran the paper mill and the aluminum plant. Our guide was very knowledgeable and we learned a lot of the town's history. Our friends did not take a ship's tour but were able to get on a shuttle for $10/each and the shuttle made 3 stops around the town. The weather was cool and overcast - in the low 60's. We got back to the ship too late for lunch, so we had ice cream up in the Lido. (The ice cream - and the waffle cones - were delicious and became a daily event.) At 5pm, the ship left anchor and cruised through the fjord. This was very scenic. We waited until around 7pm to go to dinner so that we could enjoy the scenery. Again, we had no wait. The food was very good, as usual. The entertainment tonight was a comedian, Al Katz. He was very funny. We set our clocks back 1 hour tonight. Also, tonight they gave us the Mariner Tile for this cruise. As this is only our third HAL cruise (and the second as Mariners), maybe I don't understand what the tile is to represent. On our second cruise which was on the Oosterdam to the Baltics in her inaugural year, we got a lovely tile which was a picture of the Oosterdam and had the words "Holland America and ms Oosterdam I 2003". The tile we got on this trip is a very art deco picture of a ocean liner with a city background and an American flag. It has the words "Holland Amerika Lijn and New York". No mention of the Eurodam or the year.
Sunday, 9/14/08: Today was the only planned sea day. It stayed cool and overcast all day. The noon temperature was 59F. We attended the Mariner's brunch which was very nice. They served wine and offered several menu selections. We were able to sit at a table for 2. Our friends were invited at a different time than us. Due to the cool weather, we spent most of the day inside reading, which we enjoy. Dinner again was very good. We couldn't make up our minds on the desserts, so we ordered an extra one to share. The entertainment tonight was Dr. Justin Miller who played the amplified guitar and mandolin. He was a very talented musician and most of the audience loved it, but I didn't care for this. Our evening ended on a depressing note as we watched our beloved Cleveland Browns get beat by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Monday, 9/15/08: The captain came on the PA system in the cabins around 7:20am to announce that due to the remnants of Hurricane Ike, this afternoon would be heavy rain and 50 knot winds so he decided to cancel the port stop at Prince Edward Island. All shore excursions were refunded, along with port taxes. They also served champagne at dinner to make up for the inconvenience. So, we had another sea day. Again, we spent another quiet day inside due to the weather. (Not that I'm complaining about having to spend another day aboard this beautiful ship!) There was another show this afternoon by Dr. Justin Miller for those who were interested. About 5:15pm, the Captain came over the PA system again to say that the Canadian Coast Guard requested our ship to answer a "Mayday" call from a sailboat that was in trouble. We changed course and speed. At this point, the ride got very rough. Our glasses that were on the desk were knocked to the floor. I made the mistake of leaning over to pick them up and was hit with a terrible wave of nausea. We continued to bounce around. About 6:10pm, the Captain came on the PA system once again and said that the good news was that the 6 people aboard the sailboat were rescued by helicopter. So, we were able to turn around and slow down. I started to feel a little better but it wasn't until much later that night that I was "back to normal". (And this is with daily meclizine, ginger tablet and a relief band).
Tuesday 9/16/08: Today we docked in Sydney, Nova Scotia. The Maasdam was also in port with us. Evidently there is only room for one ship at the dock, as they had to tender in. After breakfast, we left the ship. We didn't have a tour planned, but we were able to take a shuttle around the town. I believe that the fare was $5/person. They would take Canadian or US currency. There were some museums and old churches within walking distance of the pier. It was a quaint, old town. At the pier, they had shopping areas and a craft show. There was another craft show inside one of the churches, also. They greeted us with a piper when we arrived and when we left, they had a small band concert that we could hear from the ship. The weather was sunny and cool, low 60's. This afternoon it was pleasant enough to spend time out on the balcony. We left Sydney around 4:45. When we sailed past the Maasdam, we exchanged "horn" salutes - very cool! Tonight was the second formal night. We went to dinner at 6pm, again no waiting. I had the Beef Wellington and it was wonderful. The show tonight was the singers and dancers again - "In Concert" with popular music from the 50s to the 80s. These performers do a wonderful job. We thoroughly enjoyed the show. We found out that one of the singers, Ginny, is from the Cleveland area and she and our traveling companions had mutual acquaintances - small world!
Wednesday, 9/17/08: We woke up this morning to another cool and sunny day. The NCL Dream was docked in front of us. After breakfast, we left the ship and just looked around at the shops at the pier. Our friends hired a cab to take them to the cemetery where the Titanic survivors were buried. After we returned to the ship, we had lunch and enjoyed some time on Deck 11 in the Crows Nest, the library and internet cafe. (The internet connection was always VERY slow.) Tonight we had dinner in the Pinnacle Grill. We all had the beef (Bill had originally order the lobster tail but the waiter said that the chef did not recommend that tonight, so he changed his mind) - 3 of us the filet and one had the porterhouse (it was huge!). Everything was wonderful! Tonight the 4 main singers presented a cabaret-style show in the Queens Lounge.
Thursday, 9/18/08: This morning we had to get up early to meet our tour at 7:45am. We are in Bar Harbor today and our tour is "Arcadia National Park and Lobster Bake". 30 minutes prior to leaving the ship, we had to meet with Immigration as this was our first US port. We waited in line for at least 20 minutes before they opened the doors. Once they started, it didn't take very long. You had to show your passport and then they gave you a yellow debarkation ticket to show when you got off the ship. Because we were delayed on leaving the ship, our tour stops in Arcadia Park were cut short, as we had to be on time for our lobster lunch. The weather was sunny, but cool and with a strong north wind. It was in the high 50s. We made two stops in the park, one at Cadillac Mountain and another scenic viewing place. Our lunch was held in the beautiful Bar Harbor Club. The meal was delicious. The meal consisted of a huge whole lobster (or a nice large steak of you prefer), mussels, corn-on-the-cob, red-skinned potatoes, cole slaw, rolls and butter and blueberry cake for dessert. They also had coffee, iced tea and water. Beer was available for purchase - I think it was $5. This lunch was absolutely delicious - everyone raved about the lobster! After lunch was over, you could either ride the bus back to the pier or walk back. It was only a couple of blocks from where we were, so we opted to walk back, taking some time to browse in the shops along the way. There were a lot of good sales, as this is the end of the season up here. Before we left the dock, there was a little excitement. As I was looking down from our aft balcony, I saw a tender that appeared to be on fire. However, the captain came on the PA system to explain that what actually happened was while lifting the tender they accidentally set off a smoke "alert" which would be used if there was a man overboard. Bright orange smoke was pouring out from the back of the tender which looked like fire. We had to wait about 10 minutes until it stopped smoking before they could load it. The dinner menu was "Dutch", but no more little hats. The food was good. I had the brisket and Bill had the sole. After dinner, the entertainment was Caroline Dennis, a very talented singer and pianist.
Friday, 9/19/08: Today we are in Boston. We took the "Scenic Boston" tour which was somewhat of a disappointment. Bill and I had the last 2 seats on the bus. They were on the driver's side (left side), over the engine and directly across from the toilet. Most of the sights were on the right side. When we were all instructed to look to the right, all we saw was the wall of the bathroom! Even if you had a good seat, this tour did not encompass much of the historic area. Perhaps the large busses could not maneuver in these areas. At the end of the tour, you had the option of being dropped off at Quincy Market and taking the shuttle back ($5/person) or staying on the bus and going back to the ship. We opted to go back to the ship. The weather was again very cool - in the 50s. We warmed up on the ship with coffee and hot chocolate in the Lido. At 4:30 they held the disembarkation talk and crew farewell. It was nice to see so many of the crew members from all parts of the ship on stage. (On a previous evening - not sure which one, they had a crew talent show, but it didn't start until 11pm and we had an early tour, so we didn't attend.) Tonight the suggested dress was Forma (Optional) - really - that is what it said. As this is a HAL ship and not a NCL ship, we were very puzzled by this. We opted to go with the formal dress, but we were in the minority. Tonight's show with the singers and dancers was "Dream Park". I know I am sounding like a broken record, but this show was wonderful. Not only the music and dancing, but the set design also. One of the best shows I have seen on my 20+ some cruises. After the show, we visited the Piano Bar. It was a very nice evening.
Saturday, 9/20/08: This morning we anchored in Newport, R. I. shortly before 10am. They started the tender service immediately, but the Harbor Master said that the area was to be a "no wake" zone and limited the tenders to 5 mph, making each one-way trip 25 minutes long. The wait for tenders was quite long. If our friends hadn't warned us as to how long it was taking to get on the tenders, we probably would have missed our tour. From the time we went to the Queen's Lounge to get our tender ticket to the time we actually were at the pier, was a total of 1 ½ hours. We took a tour of "Scenic Newport" which was a bus trip that rode around the area and we got to see a lot of big, beautiful homes. We also walked around the town a little and got some great ice cream and a store called "Island Goodies". The tenders going back were much faster as they were not restricted on speed. We finished most of our packing and watched the sail-away from our balcony. The weather today was the best of the cruise, high 60s and sunny). Again, no waiting for a table. The show tonight was Caroline Dennis and Dr. Justin Miller. We did a little shopping in the stores and purchased a couple of photos. All in all, this has been a thoroughly enjoyable cruise.
Sunday, 9/21/08: This morning the phone rang very early and I thought it was the programmed "wake-up" call, but it really was our friends calling to tell us that we were passing by the Statue of Liberty! Even though it was 5am, we were glad that he called. We went out on the balcony and saw the beautifully lit statue welcoming us into the harbor of New York City. Our "real" wake-up call came an hour later. The first disembarkation call for those carrying off their own bags was 7:05am. I was surprised that it was so early. We went up to the Lido for breakfast around 8am and as expected, it was very crowded. We ended up eating out by the pool. It was cool but still quite pleasant. When we went up for breakfast, we left the "Do Not Disturb" sign in the door as we had our bags on the bed. (They did not give us a time to get out of the cabin.) When we came back from breakfast, the "Do Not Disturb" sign was off the door, our bags were moved to the couch and the bed and been changed and readied for the new guests. We freshened up, finished our last minute packing and left the cabin around 9am. We went up on the Lido Deck out by the pool to wait for our color, Pink 1, to be called. We disembarked around 10am. Again it was a very orderly procedure. Upon disembarkation, we were directed to the Custom Agents who were at desks like the check-in cruise agents were. After they checked our passports and took our declaration form, we proceeded to the luggage area to locate our bags and find a porter which was readily available. The porter walked us and our bags to the taxi line. This whole process took about 15 minutes. We waited in line for about 20 minutes for a taxi. When you first get in line for a taxi, they give you a numbered ticket. Hold on to that, as they distribute the cabs in numerical order by calling the ticket numbers. It appeared to be a good, fair system. The cab fare, including toll, to La Guardia airport was $32 + tip. We were quite early for our flight, so we inquired about an earlier flight. There was one that left 90 minutes earlier, but they would charge us $50/person to make the change. We declined. The line through security was long and slow - probably at least 30 minutes. We were taking a small commuter jet (Continental) and the waiting area was downstairs (no elevator). The only thing down there was the waiting area - no food and no rest rooms. After we waited down there about an hour, they changed our gate 10 minutes before scheduled boarding and we got to walk up the stairs with our bags, to the new gate. Flying is no fun!!! Anyway, the flight was uneventful and we arrived home safely. The cruise was wonderful and I would it highly recommend the itinerary and the ship.Please let me know if you have any questions.Mary Lou