We took a cruise of Canada and New England in mid-October. We had a nice time on our cruise, but it was, as my husband says, ill-conceived in general for a vacation for two midwesterners.
1. Quebec. We left from Quebec. I couldn't believe how wonderful this City was. We spent the day before the cruise just walking around, and it was perfect. I did get pretty cold, but on the positive side, the City did not feel at all crowded at this time of year. I see that people on other cruises had trouble with embarkation. Ours was very easy and fast, after a delay for a medical check because we admitted that we had recently had colds.
2. The ship. We had a balcony room. Obviously, it was not a large room, but I felt it was laid out well with enough closet space for all our things. The bathroom might have been a little larger than on other ships. Ultimately, our room became home for a week and I was often glad to come back to it. That said, this was the first time I had cleanliness issues on a ship. The first day, we noticed and reported an issue with our bathroom floor. I was told it was probably a stain and that someone would look into it. No one did, but it was not a big deal. The second day, I asked our steward to please clean the ash tray that was in our bathroom because it was caked with dust and contained someone's hair that was not ours. The steward cleaned most of it. The second day, we also reported problems with the shower, which was old, broken, and, to avoid too much detail, just basically icky. No one ever addressed this despite multiple requests. The second to last day, our shower door fell in. Not a big deal for me, but it would have been a problem for someone without much strength. I've never thought of myself as one to pay much attention to these things, but the amount of caked dust in the bathroom and elsewhere made clear that no one had thoroughly cleaned this room for weeks at least. It did not ruin our trip, but I did take care not to walk around barefoot and it was different from our previous cruises where I never had to give a second thought to cleanliness. The food on the ship was good, as far as I was concerned. I found it easy to eat healthy meals, which I appreciated. My husband, who was more interested in gourmet meals, was not impressed with the food. The common areas of the ship were nice with one exception. The deck was unusable some days because of cleaning or staining or something that involved chemicals so strong that it sent me back inside. While I will admit that the weather wasn't the best, it would have been nice to have the option of spending time on deck every day. We do not go to many shows, but we enjoyed most of what we did see. The cruise director was fun, and we enjoyed listening to him when his announcements came on. While I was put off by the problems we had with our room, I do have to say that the staff on the Spirit were the nicest I have encountered. People just generally seemed nice and happy to help.
3. The ports. Our first day we cruised the Saguenay fjord. We arrived exactly on schedule. It was a beautiful fjord, we had beautiful weather, and we even saw some beluga whales from the boat. Our second day we were at Sept Iles. We took the Zodiac tour. This turned out to be cold without much reward, though at other times of the year I understand it would be incredible. The birds had left for the winter, as had the whales. The cold weather didn't help. This day was largely about kicking ourselves for not coming earlier in the year. Our third day was Prince Edward Island. We just walked off the boat and walked around town. We visited the Province House, which was interesting. We shopped at Northern Watters, which we walked into by chance but really enjoyed. We had good pub food and looked around at the pretty houses. We attempted to rent bikes in the afternoon, but without success. Prince Edward Island was very pleasant for a cold and rainy stop. Our forth day was at sea. It was a nicely timed break. Our fifth day was Halifax, Nova Scotia. Other than Quebec, this was a highlight for us, but that could be because we had weather in the 50s for a change. We used Jonathan Duru from yourcabs to get us to Peggy's Cove at a time when there were fewer people there. We both really enjoyed Jonathan and recommend using him. He then dropped us off at the Citadel, which allowed us to see it and then take a leisurely walk downhill to the port. Our sixth day was in Portland Maine. We took the hop-on hop-off bus from the port to get our bearings and then walked around town. We had a good day visiting the pottery shops, eating lobster and, at the last minute, joining a lighthouse boat tour. Our last day was Boston, but in reality, we just went straight to the airport. Getting on and off the boat was remarkably easy except one port, I can't recall which one: either Sept-Iles or Prince Edward Island.
4. My pros and cons. This would have been a much different cruise in other weather or at a time with more wildlife around. As it was, we had a decent, relaxing time. It seems this is an excellent trip for people from the south or other areas where the seasons don't change. For us, we just traveled from one cold climate to a colder one with fewer leaves (as we had missed the peak). The people were nice both on the boat and off, we slept well, and each port allowed us to see new things and get our exercise. So I do recommend this trip, but not in mid-October.