We have just retired, and this is our fifth cruise on HAL. We’ve been to Alaska twice, Panama Canal, and the Western Caribbean. We love cruising on HAL because of the service, cuisine, and other passengers.
We flew into Montreal a day early and were met by the HAL representative who gave us vouchers for the rather “wild” taxi ride to our hotel – The Hyatt Regency. We had a large, very clean, quiet, modern room and enjoyed this beautiful hotel very much. There was also a HAL representative in the lobby to answer any questions. She told us of the three-hour bus trip to Quebec City (because of the high water), but, luckily, we were not surprised as I had been reading about it on CC.
We walked downtown to a great restaurant – Restaurant Julien, 1191 Rue Union. The service was superb as well as the French menu. Downtown Montreal was bustling with lots of people and activities.
Day 1 (Saturday): We were up early; ate a wonderful buffet breakfast in the hotel; packed our two bags and sat them by our hotel door to be picked up by HAL and put on the bus to Quebec City and the Maasdam. We boarded the bus around 11:15 am. We were given a sack with a bagel, fruit granola bar, juice, water, an apple and a banana. Check-in at the terminal went very smoothly. We got to go straight to our cabin, and our luggage arrived soon afterward.
We had As You Wish Dining, so we went to the Explorer’s Lounge to ask the maître ‘d for the same time and table for the 7-day cruise. He was very obliging, so we were thrilled we would have the same servers and wine steward each night. We enjoy getting to know the wait staff. Dinner that evening was Prime Rib and it was done to perfection. We then enjoyed the Adagio Strings – four girls from the Ukraine who gave fantastic performances each evening.
Now for the only “downer” of our cruise – Cabin 373! It was right beneath the kitchen or storeroom and the noise was terrible. At first we thought furniture was being moved, or a herd of elephants was galloping across the floor, or maybe we were below a bowling alley!! Well, you live and learn, and I will certainly avoid being below “white” spaces, etc. I wound up using ear plugs each night, so we didn’t ask to move. Our room stewards were very friendly and efficient, so other than the noise, we were very pleased with the cabin.
Day 2 (Sunday): Walked over to Quebec City. We took the Funicular to Upper Old Town. This was a very enjoyable, sunny, warm day. Quebec City is very interesting, bustling, and clean. We would like to return. After lunch, there was the mandatory life-boat drill, and then another wonderful dinner. We attended the opening Showtime which was a review of the weekly shows. The singers, dancers, and musicians were all very talented and exciting to watch. Closed out the day listening to the Adagio Strings.
Day 3 (Monday): A day at sea cruising in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. We ate breakfast in The Lido every day. The food and service were very good and it is much faster and open earlier than the Main Dining Room. We attended the demonstration by the Pinnacle Grill on “A Taste of Le Cirque;” then went on the Kitchen Tour. Today was the Mariner’s Brunch which was very nice. We then played Team Trivia, which we played every day it was offered. Steve, the Cruise Director, did a great job in moving questions along; no dawdling, and we loved his sense of humor.
We attended the Navigator Wine Tasting. This was fun and informative, and we enjoyed the other guests at our table. We then walked for 45 minutes in the fog and very cool weather. We walked 45 – 60 minutes every day. Tonight was formal night. I’ve read that some passengers do not like formal night, but we do. We rarely get to “dress up” where we live. Ended the day with Showtime – “Bob Mackie’s Broadway.” This was an outstanding show. We also listened to the Adagio Strings.
Day 4 (Tues): Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island – a very cloudy, dreary day, with a chance of rain. We enjoyed walking around Charlottetown which is quite scenic with lots of old buildings and churches. This is “Anne of Green Gables” territory, so I had to purchase a doll. We ate lunch at The Pinnacle Grill, which was wonderful. Played Trivia and tied for first place! Showtime was a comedian (Jeff Nease) who had us crying. Very enjoyable.
Day 5 (Wed): Sydney, Nova Scotia. Today was rainy, cold, and foggy, but we did walk over to town -- very small, so it didn’t take long. I think to really enjoy Sydney and the area; one must go on a tour. Played Trivia; Dinner in the Main Dining Room; Showtime – “Road House”. We enjoy “retro” country western music, but this had too many modern tunes for our liking. Listened to the Adagio Strings and then attended the Dessert Extravaganza which was beautiful.
Day 6 (Thurs): Halifax, Nova Scotia. Today we took a HAL tour to Peggy’s Cove. It was cloudy and chilly again, but no fog. We took the three-hour tour (without the lobster lunch). Our tour guide was interesting, the drive had beautiful scenery, and Peggy’s Cove was outstanding; but ninety minutes in Peggy’s Cove was too long. Luckily, we were the first bus there, so we got some great pictures without having to work around a lot of other people. We returned to the ship for lunch in the Lido, which was very good. We prefer the Main Dining Room for lunch and dinner, as we don’t eat too much!! This was another Formal Night and the dinner was again wonderful. Our stewards also brought an anniversary cake for our friends, along with a song!! Showtime was “Encore!” which was magnificent. Filled out the Custom Form and received Luggage Tags.
Day 7 (Fri): Bar Harbor, Maine. This morning, we went through Customs, which was run very efficiently. Got a tender ticket in the Showroom for a very short wait to board the tender to the mainland. The trip was about 10 minutes. We really enjoyed Bar Harbor. We also had a beautiful, clear, warm day which was a great asset. The walk along the Shore Path was very nice and scenic. Bar Harbor is very clean, attractive, and friendly. It was not too crowded as we were the only ship in port. We had lunch in the MDR, walked, read, relaxed, and then played Trivia. We received the high score which was a first!!
Tonight was the Master Chef’s dinner with the servers dancing, etc. Not my “cup of tea”, but many people enjoy it. This was also our 44th wedding anniversary, so we again had the anniversary cake and singing, along with Baked Alaska!! We listened to the Adagio Strings all evening as Showtime was dancing to the HAL Cats and Karaoke. Packed our bags and placed them outside the Stateroom door.
Day 8 (Sat): Boston. Up early. Disembarkation was quite easy and very efficient. Took a bus to the airport. We had an afternoon flight, so we ate lunch at Legal Sea Food Restaurant, which was excellent. We were flying United, and let’s just say, we will probably not use that airline again.
In summary, we had a fantastic cruise and will probably do another New England-Canada cruise. I think later in the summer would be better as far as the weather goes, but one would have to contend with more ships in port.