Caribbean Princess Review

A solid cruise on a fantastic itinerary

Review for Canada & New England Cruise on Caribbean Princess
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mikepowie
10+ Cruises • Age 40s

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Sail Date: Aug 2023
Cabin: Oceanview (obstructed view)
Quebec City
Halifax
Acadia National Park

We recently came back from a 10-day Canada/New England cruise from Quebec City to NYC aboard the Caribbean Princess. While the ship-related aspects were quite good—at times excellent—the itinerary itself made it perhaps our favorite cruises thus far and should be on everyone’s cruise bucket list. Plenty of details about both the ship and the ports in this long review.

Background: My wife (42) and I (48) booked this cruise at the beginning of the year. This is our fourth time on Princess (amazingly, all on Caribbean Princess). We’ve also sailed seven times on Celebrity and once (our most recent cruise) on Viking. Our prior cruises have either been to Alaska (2x) or the Caribbean (8x), all with lengthy reviews on Cruise Critic. We had high expectations for this Canada/NE itinerary; we were not disappointed.

Pre-Cruise: The ship overnighted in Quebec City before sailing on Day 2, so we took the slightly risky option of flying out from Washington Dulles (IAD) to Quebec City (YQB) the day of the cruise. Fortunately, flights on Air Canada, with a layover in Montreal (YUL), were generally uneventful. We had flown business class which helped with the somewhat lengthy process of Canadian immigration at YUL, as there are several hoops you must jump through. FYI, we found a ATM at YUL fairly easily to get Canadian bills (Bank of Montreal, not one of those rip-off “exchange” ATMs).

Cabin Review

Oceanview (obstructed view)

Port Reviews

Bar Harbor

Weather was good again, and we did a strenuous hike to the peak of Sargent Mountain starting at the Parkman trailhead and then down to Jordan Pond. We used the free Acadia bus system, which was good, but be sure to check the schedules in advance and plan your route and times accordingly. We are sad that this port will apparently not allow ships with more than 1000 passengers to anchor after this season pending the court challenge. We overheard hikers on Mount Sargent bemoaning the distant sight of the Caribbean Princess anchored out in the harbor. While I am somewhat sympathetic to the concern of the impact of cruise ships, I believe that the ship crowd is more likely to use the busses or stays around Bar Harbor and actually reduces the large amount of car traffic compared to a comparable number of visitors by land. It was pretty clear that Acadia’s biggest problem is parking and car traffic on the roads, not the number of hikers or people walking in Bar Harbor.

Boston

again, great weather. Did most of the Freedom Trail (which was crowded since it was pleasantly sunny Saturday in August), ate lunch in Little Italy, and then went to Fenway for an afternoon Red Sox game, before returning to the ship for a quick shower and a late dinner. Other than the Red Sox losing and the T breaking down en route to the game (and thus some exorbitant Uber fares), you could have not asked for a more perfect visit.

Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island)

also rented a car from PEI Car Rental located at the Delta hotel, walking distance from the pier. Good, family-owned business that clearly gets busy on days a ship is in town, but they do their best. Drove to the Anne of Green Gables stuff, of which my wife is a modest fan. The museum and grounds were pretty good, but the national park nearby in Cavendish offers relatively little in terms of scenery/woods, and was very crowded—too crowded to view the house. I would recommend skipping that and finding some island scenery elsewhere. After returning to Charlottetown and returning the car, we walked around the city, which was modestly interesting (but not on the level of Quebec City) and had Cow’s ice cream.

Halifax

Halifax was great and the terrific weather returned. Again, we met helpful and friendly volunteer greeters. Walked around the city: Public Gardens, had an Alexander Keith’s (mild) IPA at a pub (tour sold out), took the public ferry across the harbor to Dartmouth and back as a cheap “harbor cruise”. Bought some postcards and souvenirs at some less touristy shops. It’s a larger, posher, and more sophisticated-looking city than I had imagined.

Quebec City

We were too tired after long day of traveling and a welcome aboard drink to go back out for the evening. A city that definitely deserves both days, so if you can arrive the day before to give yourself that time, do so. We explored on our own in QC: Citadel, lower city, upper city, promenade, and its many stairs up and down. Great self-guided tours are available online. We also did the Croisieres AML tour of the St. Lawrence to Montmorency Falls, which was about 100 CAD for two—well worth it. It was a Saturday in August during a festival and the weather was great, so QC was very crowded with tourists, especially as the day went on. Recommend an early start if that’s the case. A fabulous city regardless.

Saguenay Fjord

Saguenay is terrific too, but you need a plan. The ship docks outside of town in La Baie, but even the town itself isn’t very large. Like all of the Canadian stops, it has exceptionally friendly people, and at least greeting in French before asking to switch to English I think goes a long way. Rented a car from National rental car that is in the cruise terminal (just a table as this is obviously only on a temporary basis). Very friendly man at the rental car lot gave us directions. Went and hiked in Monts-Valin National Park (the Fjord du Saguenay National Park appeared to be sold out when we checked online), specifically the Pic de la Tete de Chien (Dog’s Head Peak). A semi-strenuous hike that was muddy, but fun with good views at the top even though there was off-and-on rain. Few if any cruise passengers there. The trail had (mostly local Quebecois) people but not crowded. While not as spectacular as some U.S. national parks in terms of what it offers, definitely a nice place to go hiking and spend a day. Afterwards, we briefly saw some of the ruins from the 1996 flood and La Petite Maison Blanche that survived in Saguenay itself. As with leaving Quebec, the evening sailing down the Saguenay River on the Lido deck was an extraordinary treat, helped by fantastic weather. Beautiful, untouched fjords that has some of the characteristics of Alaska, but somehow much more unique and genuine an experience that’s difficult to articulate.

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