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Home > Virtual Cruises > Serenade of the Seas: New York to Saint John
Serenade of the Seas: New York to Saint John
Day 1: New York
Day 2: At Sea
Day 3: Halifax
Day 4: Saint John
Day 5: At Sea
Day 6: New York
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Day 3: Wednesday, Halifax
HalifaxAhoy! I woke up to sun and the amazing realization that we were finally in port! It was such a relief to move about the cabin, shower, etc. without holding onto the wall or my stomach. Already loved Halifax simply for being on land.

From my balcony, I could see the tops of buildings and the Canadian flag -- and sunshine! It was a beautiful day: not a cloud in the sky, temperature in the mid 70's. I couldn't wait to get into town and explore.

Before leaving the ship, I headed to my deck's computer station to print out some questions from the message boards. The computers are fast and easy to navigate, and I haven't seen more than two people in any work area at any given time. There are several options for Internet access onboard. There's an Internet cafe on Deck 4 that seems to be the busiest (but also has the most stations). You'll find a few computers at Latte-tudes, Serenade's coffee bar (gives the place a "real" Internet café feel) along with work centers near the Centrum on decks seven and nine. I've found a few random computers here and there throughout the ship -- in the Concierge Lounge, Crown & Anchor Lounge, and Fuel (limited of course to teens) -- so keep your eyes peeled. Still, it's never a fight to log on. Charge is 50 cents per minute, and $15 per day in your cabin if you have your own laptop. Packages are not available.

The terminal in Halifax is large and brimming with activity -- craft shacks, snack shacks, rental car stands (Enterprise for one). I'm kicking myself now for bypassing the "lobster chips" -- passengers have been raving about them and seafood fans should be sure to pick up a bag (or five!). First stop was the tourism booth, which is inside the terminal to the right, a few stands down from Enterprise. Don't miss the tourism booth if you're unsure what to do, as they have an impressive amount of information and are eager to help!

I chatted with Sue, a tourism representative, for about twenty minutes, and she circled points of interest on the map that shouldn't be missed. She was very accommodating and made a great first impression of the city.

From the terminal, it's a quick walk to the boardwalk, which is absolutely beautiful. From the water's edge, you can look out across blue water to homes nestled into hillsides -- Nova Scotia is truly beautiful. I can only imagine what it will look like once the leaves begin to turn -- those with cruises in mid-October should be in for a real treat.

The town of Halifax is equally charming -- tourists mingle with joggers and rickshaw drivers and local merchants for a blend that's part college-town charm, part small-town Canada. With a cute café, tiny boutique, or old-world pub on just about every corner, I was instantly enchanted. Halifax is somewhere I could easily picture myself spending a week.

Alas, we needed to be back onboard by five, and with a "Historical Pubs" shore excursion at 1:45 p.m. time was tight. I spent the rest of the morning strolling through the city. For cigar enthusiasts, a new store called Paul Stulac in Bishop's Landing sells Cuban cigars and is wildly popular. Another interesting find is a shop called Freak Lunchbox on Barrington Street (across from St. Paul's Church). I had to stop in for the name of the store alone. It's a candy store and more -- with treats many shoppers said they haven't seen in years, like Mary Janes and Pop Rocks. Lots of fun and not to be missed!

Before returning to Serenade of the Seas I grabbed a quick salad at a chic little Italian kitchen store that had a deli counter and returned to the terminal to meet my tour. We had a group of 50 and everyone looked ready and eager to have a blast. The "Historical Pubs" tour is not so much historical but hysterical, as our tour guides wore kilts and provided a bagpiper and three-piece band to accompany us from pub to pub. They also gave each person a bright yellow rubber hat that had to be worn -- both confirming our status as tourists in the city (as if there was any doubt with the bagpiper, band, and group of 50 -- at times we looked like a deranged Easter parade) and as an identifier once inside the pubs.

Our first stop was the Split Crow, Halifax's oldest pub (established in 1749). We received a free beer at each stop (Keith's IPA) and took turns shouting "SOCIABLE!" -- the cue for everyone on the tour to raise their glasses in a toast to Halifax (and, for many, simply an excuse to drink more beer). The bagpiper performed at our second stop, O'Carroll's Pub. He even coaxed a fellow tour member down to the performance area after the member had done a quick Irish jig while marching en route to the bar. The poor guy was a good sport and, with a bright red face, stood front and center and jigged to the bagpipe music for a few minutes. He later admitted to us all that he had no idea what he was doing, just that his wife dragged him to see "Riverdance" a few months before and he was just making fun of Michael Flatley.

By the last stop, The Lower Deck, people were getting really rowdy but the mood was festive. We sang along with the band to Irish and Scottish tunes, then boarded our buses and headed back to the terminal. I had a great time, made some new friends, and would totally recommend this tour.

The line to board the ship was pretty brutal -- at least 20 minutes long. Turns out we were late getting back (at the designated 4:15 p.m. "all aboard" we were still in the last pub) but so were two other excursions. It seemed like half the ship's 1,700 passengers were re-boarding at the same time -- and a woman on our tour was seriously late for her $150 massage. The wait was fairly painless; our "Historical Pubs" group was shouting and rowdy on the gangplank, providing other passengers, returning from more sedate excursions, with a bit of entertainment.

After re-boarding, I headed up to the Seaview Café for a pre-dinner snack and to watch the sail-away. Just ordered a nacho-like thing -- tortilla ships, guacamole, sour cream though no cheese. The fish'n'chips, and "feathers and fins" -- chicken finger and wing combo -- looked good. Just great greasy bar food. You can sit inside -- it's got a charming maritime themed restaurant and then there are outdoor tables (they're always the first to go on sail-away or during nice weather sea days). Lots of people were on deck and for good reason -- the weather was beautiful and even saw a few whales! Once Nova Scotia was far in the distance, I headed down to the Solarium to relax in a lounge chair and get some rest before dinner.

At dinner, I was glad to see my tablemates from the night before. We chatted nonstop about Halifax -- they visited Citadel Hill, which apparently has a great walk-through museum of the history of Nova Scotia, along with Keith's brewery and a few shopping areas. Though I had just had a snack after the excursion, I ate everything offered to me, continuing to play my role in cruise-dom's tradition of gluttony. I had a chilled strawberry bisque appetizer that sounded great but was just so-so, a basic salad, then shrimp scampi and (of course) tiramisu. It was Italian night in the dining room, and all the waiters danced around the room, then assembled on the stairs to serenade us (aboard Serenade, how quaint) with an Italian love song. They had 47 different accents and of the lot, somehow only one was actually Italian, but the effort was great and our waitress seemed to have a blast (waving frantically to her tables from way across the room!).

After dinner, I fought a bit with the in-cabin Internet connection, which has been unpredictable today, then gave up and headed to the "Love & Marriage" show. This was absolutely hilarious and shouldn't be missed. Similar to "The Newlywed Game," it put three couples against each other to see who knows each other the best, with questions that ranged from "what bra size is your wife?" to "what's your husband's most embarrassing habit?" to -- of course -- the inevitable questions about "whoopee." The crowd was raucous and had a blast, and Allan (our cruise director) did a great job hosting.

I went to the Hollywood Odyssey after the show (deciding that that night's big event, a country-western hoe-down in the Safari Club -- just the place to learn line dancing -- wasn't exactly up my alley), and found a wonderful beatnik atmosphere and friendly crowd. The bar was dark and smoky, and a Latin guitarist was a super backdrop for some interesting conversation with fellow passengers. I stayed for an hour chatting with passengers and the bartender, then wandered around the ship to find out what else was going on that night.

Vortex was the loudest I've ever heard it -- the thumping bass was audible from deck 9 (Vortex is on 13). I entered, expecting a huge crowd, and instead found a few older couples boogying to the Electric Slide on the dance floor, and lots of expectant wait-staff looking bored. I had a quick drink and then headed down to the casino, which was fairly busy, given that it was after midnight. I met up with a few people from the shore excursion, yelled out a few "SOCIABLE!"s, and watched Steve, the casino bartender, impress us with a few bar tricks. The ship's rocking was back in full effect, so I returned to my stateroom. You probably won't be surprised to hear that I'm looking forward to Saint John in the morning.
Day 2: At Sea red arrow Day 4: Saint John

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