Not officially a port of call, this was the city from which we embarked. Flying from Seattle, it was necessary to arrive at least one day before sailing. Never having been to Boston, we allowed ourselves three days in Boston, and would recommend at least as many days for anyone visiting this glorious city. TIP: get a 7-day link pass (purchased from vendor machines in the subway stations) which is good on all subway transit lines PLUS ferries. We were able to visit MIT and Harvard, follow the freedom trail, visit historical sites of interest, such as the Adams' estates and the USS Constitution, along with a visit to the JFK Museum. In our mid forties, we were hale and hearty enough to manage the stairs at subway stations and jump on and off the trains as needed. For those who are older, I would recommend an additional day to see all that we did in three days. If you are retired and have more time (and money), spend a full week in Boston. I was really impressed with this jewel of a city, whose bridges and waterways reminded me of my hometown of Seattle. However, Boston is much more rich in American colonial history, of course, and its mass transit system makes it so much easier to get around than in Seattle.
We took the excursion tour up to Acadia National Park. I enjoyed the tour guide who pointed out all the points of interest along the way. While we could have gotten to the park for less, it was reassuring to have this coordinated with the cruise, so that we didn't have to worry about getting back to the ship on time. As it turned out, a couple of youngsters who toured Bar Harbor on their own got back too late and missed the ship. They ended up being sped out on a pilot boat to meet us an hour after we disembarked. The ship slowed and the pilot boat tied on, then the couple climbed a rope ladder onto deck 5, the whole spectacle of this being watched by many of the passengers on board.
We enjoyed a meaningful tour of the Catholic Basilica by Franciscan Brother James. Also, we toured the Halifax Immigration Museum, which was very informative. Those immigrants who crossed the Atlantic came to New England entering via Ellis Island. There were also many who came to Nova Scotia (meaning "New Scotland") entering via Halifax. This museum is a must for anyone visiting Halifax.
Besides an interesting visit to St. Patrick's, the first Catholic church in Nova Scotia, there wasn't much to see or do in Sydney. We visited a small cutural/maritime museum, then stopped at a used bookstore. We checked out the public library to see if there was public internet access, but you had to be a card carrying member. We visited a local park, and walked the waterfront boardwalk. We boarded the ship long before it was time to disembark.
Charlottetown was quaint and charming. We visited Cows Ice Cream (the kids insisted), then my wife and daughter took the Anne of Green Gables tour. They are both aficionados of that whole story, so they enjoyed it. My son and I enjoyed strolling the beautiful streets, and took in some street entertainment along the way. I had brought my laptop on board the ship, but found the ship's internet speed way too slow to pay approx a dollar a minute. Until Charlottetown, we did not find free public Wi-Fi. In the dockside port of entry building, there was free Wi-Fi. It was slow, but free, so I checked email and responded to queries that needed a timely response.
For all of us, this was the highlight of the ports of call. We strolled the old part of the city, appreciating the stately architecture of "New France", which in some ways is more traditional than modern day France. We enjoyed shopping here, getting some very nice, quality clothing articles. Later, we picked up the bus tour of the old parts of the city. It was good to get the background and history of the city, and this tour also took us up to the Citadel.
When visiting Quebec City, be sure to allow time to do lots of shopping. If you do take a tour, make it a short one.