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Home > Member Reviews > AgouraTraveler's Port Reviews of Boston, Bar Harbor, Halifax, Sydney (Australia), St. John's (Newfoundland), Quebec City

AgouraTraveler's Port Reviews of Boston, Bar Harbor, Halifax, Sydney (Australia), St. John's (Newfoundland), Quebec City
Norwegian Spirit cruise in September 2010
Member Name: AgouraTraveler
Cruise Date: September 2010
Embarkation: Boston
Destination: Canada & New England
Member Review: AgouraTraveler's Norwegian Spirit Review
Boston
Port Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
Spent few days pre-cruise so didn't use NCL's tours. Millennium hotel excellent location across street from huge Quincy Market with dozens of shops, restaurants, and a 2-block long interior food court. Loved the macaroni and cheese with lobster. Also, Faneuil Hall is located here, make sure to take free Park Ranger guided tour of 2nd floor meeting hall--it looks exactly like history book pictures.

Used Old Town Trolleys for City tour, including Cambridge, then walked Freedom Trail (goes right by the Millennium). Get to USS Constitution early to avoid long lines. Loved Old North Church, but Boston Common too crowded to enjoy. Excellent City for Colonial period life, best if you can easily walk. I don't know how to plan this, but everything would be nicer if you visit when there aren't so many tourists in town. The historic sites are still wonderful, but some of the city's charm is lost with wall-to-wall people.

Rented a car (Enterprise picks you up) to see Lexington and Concord area. Wonderful free guide in Lexington Green explains history, points out Paul Revere's route and exactly where lines of patriots and British soldiers lined up to face each other. Don't miss Visitor's Center in Minute Man National Historic Park with it's excellent introductory film. Screens on front wall with maps, Concord on left wall and Boston on the right, easily explain the movement of Paul Revere and William Dawes, British troops, and colonial soldiers at the Revolutionary War began. Eastern portion of park has Old North Bridge and famous Minute Man Statue. Also drove 5 minutes South of Concord to see Walden Pond where Thoreau wrote.

Also drove to JFK Presidential Library and Museum. If you remember the early 1960's, this is a memorable stop, with displays covering his entire life and presidency. Only a tiny area setup with only video clips to relive the assassination. Exhibits on Jackie and the brothers.



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Bar Harbor
Port Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
Tender port, no large ship pier. Took NCL Best of Both Worlds Tour: Acadia National Park drizzly and foggy, so views were obscured, couldn't see a thing from Cadillac Mountain, but still were able to see scenic shorelines. Stop at Lobsterarium interesting, but Turret's cottage a slight disappointment because we could only walk through the first floor. The exterior was impressive, though.

Lots of tourist shops in town, plus an art show. Guide warned us that 25 to 30,000 daily vehicles jam the roads in Acadia during the summer. Don't know if he was exaggerating, but glad we were there at the end of Sept.


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Halifax
Port Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
St. John, New Brunswick next port (not a Port choice to review on this site so I'll sneak in a few words here). Bay of Fundy tidal changes big draw at this port and many of the tours show the Reversing Falls and tidal change areas along the coast. Could have skipped NCL tour Fundy Coastal Tour. New Brunswick Museum, located near pier, an excellent small place. Describes tidal changes and local history. Few shops in town, pretty churches, not a spectacular port.

Halifax, made a big mistake with Peggy's Cove by Coach & City by Double-Decker. Since we've seen other lighthouses and rocky coastlines, Peggy's Cove was a huge disappointment. Jammed with dozens of tour buses, hundreds of visitors walking through the tiny town, it was an unpleasant experience. The single store/restaurant with a public restroom had long lines.

Halifax city was great, tons of shopping and things to see. The double-decker buses run 3 distinct routes, but since we wasted all morning with Peggy's Cove, we only had time to quickly ride 1 route (the combined tour doesn't explain this). The highlight of this port was the Halifax Citadel, a British fort above town. Parks Canada has personnel in uniform explaining all aspects of for life. Saw a small change of the guard ceremony, being explained just inside the gate. Also saw an Enfield Rifle demonstration including a loud firing. Nice museum, many cannon, great views of the port below.



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Sydney (Australia)
Port Rating: 3.0 out of 5+
Sydney, Nova Scotia. Excellent Fortress of Louisbourg tour. This huge French partially-reconstructed fort was so large we only had time to walk 2/3 of the area, even with a couple of hours. Year 1744-dressed Parks Canada personnel were in each building explaining how they lived and showing products they made. Muddy roads and dark unlit rooms added to the authentic atmosphere. Bought a delicious soldier's wheat/rye loaf baked in the old oven. Spoke to the blacksmith and a French officer. As other reviewers have noted, it was much colder, windier, and damp then in Sydney so be prepared.

Walked the old part of Sydney, visited some churches. Didn't walk over to the newer shopping area part of town but heard from other family members that it was nice. On the pier, a large building full of craft stores and booths. Missed the Fiddle show because our morning Fortress tour was postponed until afternoon.



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St. John's (Newfoundland)
Port Rating: 3.0 out of 5+
No port choice of Cornerbrook, Newfoundland on this site so sneaking it here.

Gros Morne National Park was beautiful and large. The mountains, lakes, Rocky Harbour, and Lobster Cove were wonderful. Not a tour for shoppers, although our guide at lunch pointed out a couple of local souvenir shops and the bus actually stopped at another. Lunch was nice. Parks Canada has a nice short film on the park in the Visitor Center. Also some souvenir shopping available there. Tour guide, Vance, was hilarious, and had the bus laughing the entire trip with his stories about local life and the colorful characters that live in Cornerbrook.

Not much to see in town of Cornerbrook.



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Quebec City
Port Rating: 5+ out of 5+
Although the Spirit was returning to Boston, we weren't going round trip and not allowed to take any NCL tours of Quebec City, so we booked separately.

This was easily the most impressive city of the cruise. Took Les Tours Voir Quebec for a 2 hour walking tour of the old town, then the next day their Countryside tour. Even though the city was packed with tourists, we were able to hear our guide because they limit the sizes of the groups. Tour walked us past an amazing number of historical buildings and sites, and left us in the lower town full of shops and restaurants. The Countryside tour was even better, stopping at a copper factory/museum, a bread place, the chocolate factory's parking lot was full so we stopped at a fruit stand, Montmorency Falls, and the spectacular St. Anne's cathedral. Being the first week of October, the entire area's Fall Colors were spectacular.

We walked over to the Citadel and took their guided tour, looked out over the Plains of Abraham (Battlefield Park), took a guided tour of the Chateau Frontenac, and several times walked around the streets between the Chateau to our hotel, Courtyard by Marriott. The Courtyard is a modern facility with large rooms and bathrooms, plus it is 15 minutes from the overly-busy Chateau area. The streets between are full of shops, restaurants, and old historic churches.



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