Cabin review: MBD317 Mini-Suite with Balcony
Our category AB mini-suite D317 was located quite near to mid ship and was convenient to both the forward and middle stairways and elevators, although NOT very convenient to the rear stairways and elevators down to the Botticelli Dining Room. The mini-suite had the standard extra living room with triple sofa, chair and table, as well as two large flat-panel TVs - with one remote, spacious refrigerator that worked quite well. Our twin beds were really quite comfortable and the duvet coverings were very nice. Closet space was more than ample and the large bathroom boasted a standard-size bathtub with shower. The linens were very fine and the towels were thick and plush. Shower curtains were new and efficient. Furniture appeared to have been recently reupholstered. The FOUR chairs and table on our standard size balcony were in good repair and the railing had recently been refinished. Sounds from either side neighbors were almost non-existent: good sound-proofing. Overall, the cabin was in excellent condition.
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Port and Shore Excursions
Although the village of Bar Harbor is most charming in itself, it is the splendor of the Acadian National Park - including Cadillac Mountain and the Loop Road - which dominates the attraction of Mount Dessert Island.
On one of my three visits here, our lobster lunch was provided at the historic Asticou Inn in Northeast Harbor, and it was superb! This Inn overlooks the Harbor and is surrounded by exquisite gardens: a real treasure!
This last visit included an outstanding lobster lunch in Hulls Cove, near Bar Harbor, and the Prince Edward Island muscles served as an appetizer were unbelievably GOOD! I made a real pig of myself on the several bowls of them I consumed. Luckily I still had room for the huge lobster served piping hot from their steamer, along with corn on the cob and Cole slaw. What a "lunch!" Absolutely spectacular!
Being the third visit to Boston, the previous two having been exhaustingly complete: Freedom Trail, Faneuil Hall, North End, Old North Church, Paul Revere's home, Bunker Hill, John Hancock Center, Prudential Building, the Back Bay, and Cheers, this last visit was limited to a wonderful lunch at the Legal Seafoods Harborside with Gloria, my former next door neighbor who now lives on Cape Cod. The lobster roll I had was so, SO good, as was the clam chowder starter! This is a fairly new restaurant but an old and established chain which I whole heartedly recommend. It was an easy 10-minute walk from the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal.
Another first for me, Charleston, South Carolina, provided a glimpse of the colonial past of a young America. A beautiful city, carefully maintained ante bellum homes, displayed the "Southern Charm" so famous of the City.
Our tour was to the nearby Magnolia Plantation and Gardens which continued the pleasure of viewing an historic plantation home surrounded by acres of ancient oak trees draped with Spanish moss and interlaced with green vegetation covered ponds, remnants of a once thriving rice-growing industry. After the "War Between the States," as they prefer to say here, and the end of slavery, the rice production disappeared since it was the knowledge of these African slaves that had made it possible.
The interior of the plantation home with its many antiques and memorabilia to view made the entire time an enjoyable experience. A delicious box lunch of chicken salad on a croissant, sweet potato fries, and Cole slaw was served at table beneath the flowing branches of the old oak trees, nearby a pasture where small horse were grazing and also attracting the attention of the visitors.
Our subsequent city tour took us back to Charleston and through the Citadel University, then in session, and along the many streets lined with old homes still maintained in their original splendor.
A real step back into history!
Although we immediately flew from Fort Lauderdale back to Washington DC on this visit, our two previous visits have been highlighted with the Water Taxi tours of this beautiful city with its many canals and exquisite homes, displaying a modern opulence and extravagance unique to this city. It is not JUST the biggest and busiest cruise terminus after all. Beautiful beaches, excellent restaurants, scenic waterways, and spectacular weather make Fort Lauderdale a wonderful place!
The several times I have visited Halifax have been on tours to the north, to the Bay of Fundy and the Grand Pre region near the village of Wolfville, home for 200 years to the French Acadians before being unceremoniously ejected by the conquering British. Some of these Acadians wound up in Louisiana where they became known as "Cajuns," a mispronunciation of "Acadians."
Twice I have visited the Annapolis Valley and toured wineries: the Grand Pre Winery and then the Gasperau Winery in Gasperau Valley. Both produce excellent wines and it was a unique pleasure to encounter these "cold weather" grape vineyards and taste their wines.
The included lunch in Wolfville at the Tempest Cafe was excellent, with a lobster roll - chuck full of succulent lobster pieces, preceded by a bowl of clam chowder and followed by a sinfully-rich dessert of an apple tart smothered in maple sauce, topped with vanilla ice cream!
Also a major apple-growing region, the superb apples were most abundant at the time of our visit: October. There are apple orchards everywhere you look!
Sydney, Nova Scotia, (not on the list) was our first port-of-call after Quebec City, and our visit to Cape Breton Island - to the Bras d'Or Lakes - was excellent, highlighted by the Scottish Highland Village, a real living museum with ancient and antique buildings and furnishings reminiscent of a rich Scottish history. Included lunch was at the Inverary Inn in the village of Baddeck, home of Alexander Graham Bell and a Museum in his honor. It was my second time visiting here and lunching at the Inverary Inn, and it was again very excellent with OUTSTANDING clam chowder to start with and peanut butter cookies to end with. Wonderful lunch!
Our full day tour of NYC was as complete, enjoyable and interesting as it could have possibly been. Luckily, our guide was Darrell, a tall black man who could easily make a career as a stand-up comedian. However, this rapid delivery of a plethora of knowledge and clever quips as our bus criss-crossed the Island of Manhattan keep our intent attention; we did not want to miss a word! Our lengthy stop at the Rockefeller Center with a tour to the "Top of the Rock" was a highlight as was the stop near the World Trade Center disaster where we were able to observe much of the reconstruction projects. Lunch at the Seaport Village on South Street near Pier 17 was very, VERY crowded with many other tourists, but my choice of the independent lunch at the Heartland Brewery and Pub was an excellent one. We were seated far enough back from the Pier 17 area that the crowds were of not consequence. There was a fabulous view from Pier 17 of the Brooklyn Bridge, however.
My first visit to Newport, Rhode Island, was indeed memorable. Besides touring two magnificent "mansions," built by the Vanderbilts in the later 1800s, I was also able to visit the International Tennis Hall of Fame which is also located in Newport; since my sport is tennis, this honor was especially important. The half day spent in this port was hardly enough to absorb the opulence and elegance of the many mansions and "cottages." Another visit is certainly warranted!
Undoubtedly the most European city in North America, Quebec City is an absolute treasure of colonial splendor and beauty. Our two nights here at the Htel Le Germain-Dominion preceding the cruise provided many opportunities to tour and investigate the charms of this ancient city. The hotel's proximity to the Cruise Terminal was also a tremendous "plus," with only a block to drag our luggage. Anyone who has yet not visited Quebec City has missed an experience of lifetime.