We sailed on Aug. 27th just ahead of hurricane Irene. (We had flown in from Texas a few days earlier and stayed with friends in NH.(I thought we may make it to Bar Harbor but was informed we would miss both Bar Harbor and Halifax, ended up missing Sydney too. That didn't bother us since we would be coming back through those ports. The seas were rough but not so bad that we were sick or miss anything. We were pleased when they added Gaspe and Saguenay, Quebec.
The ship was what we expected for an older ship and small than most. We had sailed in the 90's on the old Westerdam and Amsterdam so didn't mind a smaller ship. We read a lot and were with old friends to visit with so activities were not important to us. Reading in the Crows Nest during the day while at sea was nice.
Needless to say we were happy with the ship, the staff, the food, the entertainment, and the cabin. If fact the entertainment was great. Our group came in from all over the country so we ended up with open dining, as it turned out there were 11 of us and they had a table for 10 which they turned into seating for 11. We ate early (5:15) and ended up at the same table same wait staff for all 14 days. Could not be more happy with the way they accommodated us.
Everyday we docked or tendered we were off the ship all day except to come back and have lunch except on tendering days. Being in a port where you were right in town was wonderful. We could walk every where or take a tour whatever we desired.
I have written reviews on the tours we took during the cruise on the Holland America site.
The two added ports of Gaspe and Saguenay were added treats. Gaspe we tendered and took a school bus into the main part of town we shopped and visited with the locals had coffee at Tim Horton's (Canada's answer to Dunkin donuts).
We docked at Saguenay and the towns people turned out at the dock and welcomed us with music dancing and treats. Kind of nice. Sampled frozen maple syrup on a stick. The best part of Saguenay was sailing down the fjord from the St. Lawrence to the town.
Sydney, Nova Scotia was not on your list of ports. We rented a car here so i could drive up the Cabot Trail something i've always wanted to do. The rental company was there within 20 minutes from calling them (Enterprise, book ahead of time on the internet) after doing the paperwork we were on the road by 9:30am. The freeway was only a few blocks away. We only had enough time to go up the east coast part of the road but enjoyed what we saw. Beware the road goes through the national park and you have to pay the enterance fee. A very enjoyable day and would do it again.