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Home > Member Reviews > smltwngrl76's Port Reviews of Portland (Maine), Halifax, Saint John (New Brunswick), Bar Harbor

smltwngrl76's Port Reviews of Portland (Maine), Halifax, Saint John (New Brunswick), Bar Harbor
Jewel of the Seas cruise in October 2011
Member Name: smltwngrl76
Cruise Date: October 2011
Embarkation: Boston
Destination: Canada & New England
Member Review: smltwngrl76's Jewel of the Seas Review
Portland (Maine)
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
We had waited until we boarded the ship to try to reserve a shore excursion in Portland, but by 3 PM on the very first day, our in-room TV said there were no more tours available. We very much wanted to make it out to the Portland Head Light somehow, so we got off the ship and hoped to find some sort of private tour on the pier. Luckily for us, the "Lighthouses of Maine" tour through RCCL was just about to leave the pier, and had 2 no-shows! We waltzed right off the ship and directly onto the bus for the lighthouse tour, only needing to pause about 30 seconds for the RCCL rep to swipe our seapasses!

The lighthouse tour was excellent. We got to see two smaller lighthouses before heading out to the Portland Head Light, which was the "star" of the tour. En route, our tour guide entertained us with many facts about Portland's history, as well as a lot of corny jokes (but we loved them). There was a small gift shop there at the Portland Head Light, but we literally didn't think that a single other person could have squeezed into it, so we skipped it.

I would highly recommend this tour--I think it was 3 hours, and we paid $46 per person. Although a couple fellow passengers later told us they got a very similar tour for about half that price, we were still very satisfied that we got a great tour for the price we paid.

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Halifax
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
We loved Halifax. Just such an interesting place to be. It has a great boardwalk that will lead you directly down to the Maritime Museum, as well as a lot of small but interesting looking stops along the way. We did not reserve any tours here, we did it on our own. There is a lot of great shopping at Pier 22. We briefly looked around there, and decided to do more shopping there on our way back since there was just so much to see there. Then we walked down to the Maritime Museum, which is a completely flat walk on the boardwalk but takes about 15 minutes. We then turned UP Prince street and trekked up to the Citadel. I've read that this is quite a hike, and that is definitely not a misleading statement. I'm used to doing cardio workouts regularly, so it really didn't bother me, but others had some trouble and had to stop to rest several times. We got lots of nice pictures at the Citadel, but we did feel like we may have missed out a little bit by not having a tour guide (i.e. we read about the changing of the guard but had no idea when/how to actually see that). But our overall time in Halifax was great, and we took a slightly different route back down to the ship. OH, I should mention--where our ship had to dock was a secured pier and we were not permitted to freely walk on and off the pier. However, Royal Caribbean provided a free shuttle into Pier 22 which ran frequently and was quite nice--not a problem.
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Saint John (New Brunswick)
Port Rating: 1.0 out of 5+
I can't say that the poor rating is entirely Saint John's fault, as the weather did not cooperate with us on this port day at all. We were used to the cold and wind by this point, so that alone would not have been enough to deter us from exploring Saint John, but it also poured down rain, hard and steady, ALL day long, and was dark and gloomy. Luckily, we didn't have any excursions reserved and weren't even entirely sure what we were going to do when we did get off the ship--so we basically didn't. There was a large tent right at the end of the gangway, and under the tent was a small local flea market type thing. So we did eventually decide to go check that out, and it was cute. But we weren't there long and got right back on the ship. I had read that there was a lot of construction going on in Saint John, and we could see a lot of it from the ship. It just wasn't very "picturesque" and as I said the weather was extremely uninviting. So, we really didn't have a Saint John experience to speak of at all. We had massages in the ship's spa instead! :)

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Bar Harbor
Port Rating: 5+ out of 5+
I cannot say enough good things about Bar Harbor, Maine. This was by far my favorite port, and this port alone was enough reason for me to declare that I would LOVE to plan a land vacation specifically to Maine someday. It was one of the most beautiful places I've ever been to. We had pre-reserved a 2.5 hour tour with Oli's Trolley weeks ahead of time. I booked it directly on their website, paid with my credit card, and printed the tickets out ahead of time. It was only $29 per person. They took us on a beautiful (enclosed) trolley to Acadia National Park, Cadillac Mountain, Thunder Hole, and probably another place or two that I cannot recall the names of right now, but it was all so very beautiful. Our tour guide was enjoyable and knowledgeable, and we got a ton of gorgeous pictures. Back down in town, there were places to get lobster everywhere you looked, but unfortunately we aren't lobster eaters. So after our tour, we just headed back to the ship for lunch and got lots more pictures of the scenery from the ship. We had to tender in this port since Bar Harbor doesn't have a pier that can accommodate the large ships. I thought the tendering experience was fun--we used 4 large, covered lifeboats.

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