We picked this cruise because we liked the ports and the "one-way" nature of the cruise. My wife had always wanted to see the colors of New England. The cruise left from Boston and ended in Quebec City. My wife and I had never visited Boston so we spent an entire day there before departure. We walked the Freedom Trail and enjoyed the city. The morning before the cruise we walked the walkways along the water and got some good exercise. Our hotel was the Boston Seaport Hotel. It is located away from the downtown area near the World Trade Center area. The hotel is right on the "Silver Line" which means it is on the subway/bus system. We took the Silver Line directly from the airport. The Silver Line connects with downtown very nicely. In addition, the Silver Line also goes directly to the port and drops you right next to the NCL dock. The Seaport Hotel was right near the water and we had great views out of our windows. It was a great hotel for a pre-cruise stay.
We arrived at the dock between 1:00 and 2:00. Since we were staying in a suite, we were lead to an open check-in station. However, the other check-in lines seemed short. After meeting our butler and concierge, we were lead directly to our cabin. Our cabin was 10000 and was right in the front of the ship, directly below the bridge. The cabin was large with a sitting area, breakfast table and a separate bedroom. Bathroom was large with tub and large shower. The suite even had a second small bathroom. The balcony was on the small side but gave us great views out both sides of the ship as we left ports. When cruising, it was windy and rather cold because of the wind coming straight in. Our cruise was the second week of October. Because of the long summer, many of the trees were still green in some areas. However, since you are cruising north, the trees were very beautiful in many ports. I think early October is the time to go.
The Spirit is an older ship and you can tell from the decor. However, we enjoyed the ship and the amenities. Deck 7 is a walking deck where you can walk around the entire outside of the ship. 3 laps are 1 mile with great views. The fitness center is small but has nice large windows in front of the exercise machines. We were some of the younger passengers on this particular cruise (in our early 50's) so getting on the equipment was not a problem. There is a running track on the top level of the ship but many passengers use it to walk across the deck. So, you needed to dodge slow walkers on the track.
The "free" restaurants are the Buffet, Windows and the Garden Room. The buffet was typical cruise ship fare and normally very chaotic. As a suite holder, we could eat breakfast and lunch in Cagney's (one of the specialty restaurants). We ate breakfast in Cagney's every day except one. In the evening, Windows and the Garden Room have the exact same menu so it really doesn't matter which one you eat at. Both were good but we ate more often in the Garden Room because they had more tables for parties of two. Food was very good. We did not feel the need to pay-up and eat in the specialty restaurants. Many folks we met did pay to eat in the specialty restaurants and were very pleased.
Once again, as suite holders we had reserved seating in the balcony for all shows. I would rate the shows 3 of a possible 5. We saw them all. I believe the older folks enjoyed them the most. Most were packed. There were two identical shows each night and the early one was the more popular.
The crew on the ship was great. Dinner served quickly and efficiently. Housekeeping services were very quick to make-up your cabin when you were gone. Towel animals were creative. Butler and concierge were great!
Once we arrived in Quebec City, we were given priority disembarkment. Our luggage was waiting for us and easily found. We walked the old city section of Quebec City. It was a great walking town. No reason to pay for an excursion unless you cannot walk. We then rented a car and drove to Montreal. We stayed at the Montreal Airport Marriott which is located inside the terminal. It was very convenient and a great choice if you have an early morning flight.
Overall, we had a great trip. See my port reviews for further information. Sydney - Canada At Sydney, we thought we wanted to go to the fortress at Louisbourg. We went to the taxis and asked the price. All the taxi drivers had a pre-printed pricing form for the various attractions - none of which are close to the ship. This is one location where you need to get into a vehicle to see the best sights and scenery. The "fixed fee" trip to Louisbourg was $160. For two people, we thought this was way too high, but then we found two Fighting Illini who joined us. The taxi was a van, so the 4 of us were very comfortable. Louisbourg is a fortress that has been restored/re-built as a tourist attraction. There are demonstrations and workers are dressed in "period" costumes, etc. The location is right on the water and there was a lot to see. The drive to the fortress was pleasant but not anything special. We got back early and took a walking tour of the town. Unless you just like to walk (which we do), this town didn't have a lot to offer.
Corner Brook (I've added this since Corner Brook is not a port on Cruise Critic) From what we could tell, Corner Brook had one redeeming factor, the Stream Trail. We took a cab to the beginning of the trail (or the end of the trail depending upon your direction). Let's just say, we started high in the hills and the Trail was mainly downhill for us. From the top, the trail is carved out of the woods and crosses a deep gorge. People starting from the dock do not make it this far as we saw no one for the first ½ hour (except a few locals). Once you've dropped back to sea level, the trails wind around ponds and up and down hills. We walked all the various side trails and it was a great hike. Once we got to the bottom, we asked about shopping and were pointed to a small shopping center. Let's just say, some of the passengers on the ship thought the Wal-Mart was their shopping highlight.
10000 - Our suite was #10000 and was right in the front of the ship, directly below the bridge. The cabin was large with a sitting area, breakfast table and a separate bedroom. Bathroom was large with tub and large shower. The suite even had a second small bathroom. The balcony was on the small side but gave us great views out both sides of the ship as we left ports. When cruising, it was windy and rather cold because of the wind coming straight in.
Bar Harbor was one of our favorite ports and a place we would like to return. We enjoy hiking and Acadia Park is ideal. The town is very nice with many shops and restaurants. It is easy to cover the town by walking. Walk to the town square and get on a free Explorer bus. There are multiple bus routes, so get a copy of the route system from their web site or take the bus to the Visitor’s Center. We took a bus that dropped us at the base of Cadillac Mountain. Cadillac is the largest hill (mountain) in the park and offers great views. We hiked one of the trails to the top. On the way down, we took a different trail to the base. Once at the bottom, we decided we didn’t need the bus and hiked along the road back into town. This was a great day and we still had time to walk around and shop.
Saint John and the Bay of Fundy are the names used for this port. When you get off of the ship, the taxi dispatcher will tell you the fixed rate for all taxi rides. The cabs are not metered but each destination is a different price. We took a cab to Irving Nature Park for $10. The park is on a very pretty peninsula that has a network of walking/hiking trails. In particular, one lookout had seals bobbing in the water if you looked closely. The day we went to the park was a Canadian holiday and there were many cars in the parking lot. However, the trails seemed relatively deserted and were well marked. We called the cab company and got a ride to the Reversing Falls. This area is well hyped but when you see the river at only one time during the day, the “reversing” feature is somewhat lost. However, it was fun to watch the jet boats and you occasionally saw seals floating by. The river water, depending upon the time of the day, flows a different direction. When we tired of watching water, we called another cab to return to the port where there was more shopping.
Halifax was the only port where we purchased a shore excursion from the ship. We took a bus to Peggy’s Cove. The ride was very pretty. At Peggy’s Cove, you see the lighthouse and can walk around the area. Our time there was actually too short. Our guide was very informative and the bus comfortable. We are glad we went to Peggy’s Cove.