Maasdam Cruise Review by SSBosco: Montreal to Boston--WiiFi, HOHO, walks & Dirty Lobster Rolls
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Montreal to Boston--WiiFi, HOHO, walks & Dirty Lobster Rolls
We did Montreal three nights pre-cruise. Just follow the yellow arrows on the airport floor of a taxi logo to the exit. No need to pre-buy a ticket or fare card. $38 set fee for taxi from airport with a wonderfully thought-out taxi queue system. Big construction back-up--took an hour into town. There is an express bus #747 http://www.stm.info/english/info/a-747.htm for $8 that goes to main bus terminal near University and makes stops along the way and there are multiple bus routes you can transfer to at main bus terminal to your hotel if you want to go the "wheel-your-own" route. The $8 is the one-day pass fare for any bus. You can't miss the large desk against the exit wall after you get out of customs. See internet for Metro map and multi-day passes.
The Old Montreal $17 walking tour (average 2 hours) meets outside the entrance to the gift shop at Basilica Notre Dame at 10:45AM for the 11AM tour in English.
McDonald's and Starbucks are at corner of Notre Dame More West (not East) and Saint Laurent. That's one block to the right coming out of Notre Dame entrance.
There is a little Variety Shop that does post office duties 2 doors down from McDonald's towards Notre Dame. A stamp for a post card from Canada to the US costs $1.03 plus tax. There is a real post office in the Convention Center with a store front entrance on Rue Saint Antoine. Look for the big red mail box at the 10-story building in the middle of the block two blocks in front of Notre Dame.
We stayed at Auberge Les Passants du Sans Soucy in Old Montreal on Saint Paul West (not East). It was fine and a perfect location. Breakfasts were average and filling. Very nice, helpful staff.
Saint-Laurent is the dividing line for West and East and your taxi driver will want to know every time. Between the end of May and middle of October they block off Saint Paul East (not West) to traffic after 11AM each day for pedestrian-only tourist area that intersects Jacques Cartier Square. It's lively and typically touristy. Nothing wrong with it. Be careful of your footing on the cobble stones. http://www.vieux.montreal.qc.ca/tour/etape6/eng/6fena.htm
We were walking distance to the Port which is directly across the big street from the Museum of Archeology and History as seen on any decent map. The ship is taller than the two-story terminal so you can't miss it if you're anywhere near the port. If you're walking, go through the narrow arch to the right of wide driveway and walk along the metal barricade to the desk and they will tell you where to go (right into the desolate middle of the building and then left 200 feet to the elevator). Embarkation was a breeze.
Quebec City is easy. We docked across from the Museum of the Civilization. There's a long covered walkway to the terminal building. A Celebrity ship docked upstream on the other side of the ferry stop (nearer the funicular) and one of the "Explorer" type ships was a little further downstream. You can't get lost no matter where you dock. You can see the ships from almost anywhere.
There is Free WiFi in the passenger terminal building with tables and chairs if you have your own computer. If you don't have your own then walk to the funicular through the old part of town with all the shops. $2 gets you up to the plaza of the Chateau Frontanac. You will need to climb a few steps to get up to the funicular and then to get up to the plaza. The Main Tourist/Tour Office is just down the slope on the right on the corner--12 Rue Saint Anne. Has blue flags in front. There are 6 or so steps to get up to the main level. Has internet computers for $2.50 for 20 minutes. Multiple tour company booths in the lobby offer bus tour and guided walking tours. Stock up on water before you set off. They sell bottles at both ends of the funicular.
Charlottetown, PEI, http://www.historiccharlottetownseaport.com/ is charming and clean. The passenger terminal has free WiFi with tables and chairs and the Pink HOHO bus is right outside. $44 (which they charge to your cabin card) runs you all over town in an overlapping pattern. It's a little expensive for an hour ride but saves the legs and takes you out a couple of lighthouses. A whopping dollar gets donated to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Downtown is a 10-minute walk up the hill and left of the port. There's an underground arcade/mall with real (not tourist) stores. The Cows Ice Cream on Peake's Quay is OK. http://www.tourismcharlottetown.ca/what-to-see-do-2/shopping/ The public rest rooms are hidden by the stairs across the grass at the back of the main shopping building at Peake's Quay.
Sydney, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia--town is small but the scenery on the island is gorgeous. http://sydneyport.ca/cruise tells you all about cruise terminal and sights. A walk through town takes about an hour. Free WiFi in the terminal building with tables and chairs. GET THERE EARLY because after a while each port's service slows down terribly as more people get on. They have a group of locals that staff the shops and the tourist table in the terminal hall. There was a large room with local craft stands and a museum upstairs. The big fiddle outside is nice for a photo. We were docked. Huge Princess had to tender in.
Halifax doesn't have an indoor hall with tables for WiFi like the other Canadian ports. The best hot spot is inside the artisan (read craft) mall in the terminal building which you have to get to from the outside sidewalk. We used the inside seating benches near the windows at the top of the ramp through the door to the chocolate shop, then left.
There is a very organized HOHO tour bus system in Halifax. Again, they will charge the $44 to your cabin card. There are three routes--A takes an hour and B & C take half an hour. There is some overlap but each is interesting. Most of us rode all three. You can ride all day with your sticker. The C route goes to the Citadel. The A route will take you closest to the McDonald's where you can get a lobster roll. Get off at the Public Gardens stop on Spring Garden Road and ask if you haven't found it on Google Maps. There were three ships in port that day but the busses handled everyone and the queues weren't bad. The terminal building (Pier 21) has the Immigration Museum and there's Maritime Museum further up the boardwalk.
Last port was Bar Harbor. You can arrange tours to anywhere in the building where the tenders dock. Typical cutsie gift shops with the same old-same old.
The closest WiFi when you get off the tender is in Agamont Park directly across the street from the tender shopping building. But you have to sit on the park benches and the glare is awful in the fog. Bar Harbor is the first time some of us have had cell phone service since we didn't have a Canadian carrier.
If you miss the restrooms at the tender shopping building look across the driveway at the top of Agamont Part for a brown building with a beige gable with a window.
We were bored with regular lobster rolls and saw a sign for a "Dirty Lobster Roll". They gently heat the chunk lobster meat and claws and add celery to the mayo sauce and then lettuce on the hoagie roll with a delicate scampi sauce that has a little bite to it. It was huge. Had 8 ounces of lobster. Typical lobster rolls are about 4 ounces or so and have just mayo. It came with hot hand-made potato chips. It's Hot Spot on Cottage Street right across from the Rite-Aid. Apparently it's a place where the locals go when they get off work at night. It's a low-key/low-decor place but they have tables, a bar and beer and sports on a big TV and WiFi.
There's a bakery another block out Cottage Street on the other side of the street that has delicious pain au chocolat (Americans seem to call them chocolate croissants)--the kind that has chocolate in every bite. They only have fruit-flavored/health style drinks, no sodas.
The expedited debarkation on the Maasdam in Boston was perfect. We rolled our suitcases off the ship at 7:40 and finally saw the signs that pointed to taxis. Signage was not thought out very well. The confused taxi lady wasn't in command of the taxis that came intermittently. Drivers stopped wherever they wanted. Got to Logan Airport at 8AM Less
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