New England/Canada Cruise on the Celebrity Summit
10/5/13 to 10/19/13

Page 1  -  Pre-cruise in New York City, NY and Ship

Page 2  - Cabin, Dining; Entertainment; Activities; Ports of: Portland, ME; Bar Harbor, ME; Halifax, Nova Scotia

Page 3  -  Ports of: Sydney, Nova Scotia; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; Quebec City, Canada Day 1

Page 4  -  Ports of:  Quebec City, Canada Day 2; Gaspé, Canada

 

Sydney, Nova Scotia

We arrived in Sydney to another beautiful sunny day.  We could look down on the terminal with lots of shops that we would visit upon our return to the ship.  The most distinguishing feature of the terminal is that it is the home of the world’s largest fiddle.  I took the below photos after we returned from our tour, since there were so many people around it in the morning.

     

The fiddle is a great landmark for people meeting tour guides, which is where we met our tour guide for the day Don Blackwood, donblackwood@seascape.ns.ca.

Don was the former Head of Tourism for Cape Breton Island and is a wealth of information on anything you want to know about the area.  When we first started looking at what to do while visiting Cape Breton Island, Don recommended that we either visit Fort Louisbourg or take a ride on the Cabot Trail.  He told us that with it being so late in the season, most of the re-enactors at the fort would be back at school, so the experience wouldn’t be as good as during the summer months.  He also told us that with the amount of time in port, we would not be able to do the entire Cabot Trail and in fact would only really get to see a small part of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park.  Since our main goal for the day was to see natural beauty and fall colors, we were going on the Cabot Trail.

Don had the same type of Dodge van as Andy had the previous day.  With all six of us in attendance, it was not as comfortable as we would have liked.  The Dodge has two seats in the front and middle and three sit in the back.  Unfortunately, the third seat in the van has a plastic thing on each side that sticks up and into the two people sitting on the outsides.  With three people in the back there is no way to avoid it.  Carol and Barbara folded up their coats and sat on them to make it a little more comfortable.  If the tour had been less driving and more sightseeing at stops, it wouldn’t have been as much of an issue; but it isn’t the best arrangement for long drives.  But Don did have a great speaker system in the van that allowed those in the back of the van to hear everything he was saying.  It really made a difference, since we didn’t have an audio system the previous day; so everyone appreciated it.

Shortly after we started the tour, we had to wait at a bridge due to construction.  Both Andy and Don had told us that they had just had an election the previous week.  They said that politicians get a lot of construction projects going to help get votes.  We did see a lot of construction at both of the ports, so they were probably right.

We were enjoying the beautiful countryside, even though the fall colors were not as good as around Halifax.  I think it was partially due to there being more coniferous trees on Cape Breton Island.

The scenery around the lakes was particularly enjoyable to see.

     

     

As we came over a hill, Don pointed out an area that had been built out into a lake.  We were going to be taking a ferry at that point to cross to the other side.

When we arrived at the ferry landing, we were surprised at what a short distance we had to cross.  The ferry operates by a cable that it pulls to move from one side to the other.  I had never seen anything like it. 

     

The water looked very rough, but the cable ferry system worked great.

We continued the pretty drive and started to climb Cape Smokey, which is the highest elevation ski mountain in Nova Scotia.

     

We stopped near the top to take some photos.

We continued the drive and the fall colors were looking good. 

     

We finally arrived near the town of Ingonish, which would be as far as we would be going.  We got a view of the rocky coastline across the lake and could see where we would be stopping for lunch, the Keltic Lodge.

When we arrived at the Keltic Lodge we got out to get some photos of the lodge and walked over to where we could get a closer view of the coastline.

     

The lodge had a large dining room, but we were eating in a smaller sitting room since it was late in the season and there weren’t many people there for lunch.

After lunch we drove around the area to see the lovely golf course and more of the coastline and beach area.  We could understand why the Keltic Lodge was a popular vacation spot.

     

     

We began the return trip, since we didn’t have enough time to go around the full trail.  It was really a shame, since we had just gotten into the prettiest part and it was supposed to get a lot prettier further into the park.  Oh well, something to do on a return trip land tour.  

Don pointed out the vapor trails in the sky.  He told us that 600 flights a day pass over that part of Nova Scotia.  It is the main path for flight between North America and Europe.  The planes seemed so close together from the ground.

When we came back to the ferry crossing, we were able to get some better photos of the ferry and the cable system.  The current was pushing the ferry and it was putting the cable at an extreme angle.  We were just glad it didn’t break.  We asked why they didn't just build a bridge, but Don said that the locals didn't want to.  They wanted to keep their unique ferry.

     

The ride back was on the same road as we came.  But since we were going a different way, we noticed different scenery and terrain.  We looked forward to more beautiful ports to come.

 

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

Cruising into Prince Edward Island we could see that it was going to be different from Nova Scotia, the island was composed of very red soil.  The port area looked quite lovely in the glow of the early morning sun.

     

Once again I had arranged a private tour for the six of us.  Duncan Conrad of Duncan’s Island Tours, www.duncansislandtours.ca, would be showing us the highlights of what appeared to be a very nice island.

After the crowded back seat in the van the prior day, everyone was a bit apprehensive of what type vehicle Duncan would be using.  We had no reason to worry, since he had a Honda van that seated two in the front and back seats and three in the middle.  Plus it was a bigger van and had a very smooth ride.  Like Don’s van, Duncan also had a very good sound system.  As with our previous private guides, Duncan was also very knowledgeable of the area and he had a very pleasant personality.  A genuinely nice person who wanted to show off his island to us. 

He showed us a little bit of Charlottetown, the largest city on Prince Edward Island.  We passed by St. Dunstan’s Bascillica, which I had seen from the ship as we docked.

I found it most interesting that the traffic lights used square bulbs for the red lights.  I had never seen that before.  Duncan thought that perhaps it helps color blind people to be able to differentiate the colors.  Made sense to me.  I wonder why that isn’t done everywhere.

We passed by areas of very shallow water, where the boats were sitting on land.  They have pretty dramatic tidal changes in this part of the continent.

As we were driving to our first destination, Duncan pointed out that there is a lot of farming on Prince Edward Island.  PEI is a major producer of potatoes.  Unlike Nova Scotia, the island had farms everywhere.  It really made for lovely scenery.  Duncan told us that PEI had more coniferous trees than Nova Scotia, so the fall colors wouldn’t be as dramatic; but they looked mighty good to us.

     

Our first stop was at Victoria, a small fishing village that had a cute little wooden lighthouse.

     

There were several buildings and little stores; but Duncan said that most had already closed for the season.

I was still intrigued by the large expanse of shallow ocean area and red soil.

     

On the way to our next destination, we passed by a church with an unusual spire.  Duncan said that other churches in the area had a similar design.

Duncan told us about the Confederation Bridge we were heading to.  The 8 mile 1.3 billion dollar bridge was completed in 1997.  It had been a very controversial subject with many people, as they did not want to have a fixed connection to New Brunswick.  We stopped to take some photos and look around at the park area.  It was an impressive bridge.

     

There was a small lighthouse also in the park along with a little museum that wasn’t open.

Duncan drove over to a different viewing point where we could get a wider view of the bridge.  We couldn’t see where it ended.

Then Duncan surprised us with a treat.  His wife, Linda, had made some muffins for us.  They were delicious!  It was very thoughtful of his wife and we really appreciated it.  The women all wanted the recipe; which Duncan later emailed to me.

     

As we were going to the next stop we passed by a Halloween display.  It has always amazed me how creative some people can be.  Probably because it is a skill I do not possess.

     

All during the drive I had been seeing trucks full of potatoes.  I was finally able to get a photo of one of them.  In addition to growing the potatoes, PEI has some large processors on the island that we would pass later in the day.          

We made a quick stop at a place called Hostetter’s Viewscape.  From there we could get a photo of the fishing village of French River.  Just another lovely photo stop on PEI.  It is frequently photographed because it contains a water view and farmland in the same vista.

We were really enjoying the drive around the island.  The views from the road were so pretty.  We were very impressed with PEI and the best was yet to come.

     

For lunch we stopped at the Prince Edward Island Preserve Company, http://preservecompany.com.  In addition to a very good restaurant, they sell their line of preserves.  Some of which are made right there in the kitchen.

     

In the large store they also had a tasting bar, along with other interesting items.  The preserves were quite tasty.

The restaurant was quite large and a tour bus had stopped there.  PEI is a major producer of mussels.  Jerry and Hans had been listening to Duncan telling us how great they were at the restaurant, so they knew what they wanted to order.  As luck would have it, they were out of them.  We all still were able to order some very delicious meals.  For dessert, some of us had their specialty, raspberry cream cheese pie.  Raspberries are Barbara's favorite fruit, so she was especially happy.

     

After lunch, Duncan took a photo of our group and we continued on our way.


Barbara - Hans - Diane - Jerry - Carol - Mike

We continued to pass by lovely vistas, lighthouses and interesting buildings.

     

Duncan stopped in a little fishing village to show us how lobster traps worked.  He did an excellent job of explaining the process.

     

We then headed to Prince Edward Island National Park, which is located along the island’s north shore.  There were interesting red rock formations along the shore; as well as grass covered sand dunes.  Just a beautiful area, even with the cloudy skies and cold wind that had moved in.

     

     

We drove past the Anne of Green Gables House, which is a very popular tourist attraction.  Since none of us had read the book, we continued on our trek without stopping to tour it.

Duncan told us about a unique shop at Brackley Beach, the Dunes Studio Gallery, www.dunesgallery.com.  In addition to a restaurant, they have a very large collection of items imported from Indonesia and other parts of the world.  They had very unique items and walking around the store and grounds was more like walking through a museum.  Just a beautiful place.

     

     

     

     

The view from the second floor looking into the gardens was particularly enthralling.

     

We then went down the street to see Brackley Beach.  With the strong cold wind that was blowing, only Hans and I went with Duncan to see the beach.  We were rewarded with a beautiful view of a sandy beach and huge sand dunes.

     

     

We couldn’t believe it when we saw a small wedding service taking place on the beach.  A beautiful setting indeed; but they should have made it a June wedding for better weather.

We passed by more fishing villages and lighthouses on the way to Dalvay by the Sea, www.dalvaybythesea.com.  It is now a hotel, which was visited by Prince William and soon to be wife Catherine in 2011.  It was originally built as a vacation home by Alexander Macdonald, who was a president of the Standard Oil Company with John D. Rockefeller.

     

On our way back to the ship, Duncan gave us a brief tour of the city.  We drove right up to the Government House, which is the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of PEI, the personal representative of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.  I would have thought there would be some security around; but it must not be necessary.

     

     

We all thoroughly enjoyed our day with Duncan and everyone fell in love with Prince Edward Island.  It was such a beautiful, peaceful place.  Talking to others who had toured PEI, many people echoed our thoughts on the lovely island.  As we sailed away, I was able to get some photos of light houses I had missed when we came in that morning.  After five very full days of touring, we were ready for a sea day.  We needed the rest.

     

During the next day while sailing through the St. Lawrence Seaway to Quebec, we could normally see land in the distance.  I was surprised to see the white cliffs in one area.

     

 

Quebec City, Canada

Quebec City had been on our bucket list for a long time, so we were thrilled that we would soon be able to cross it off.  We had thought it would be so nice to be able to be on the ship looking up to the beautiful hotel, Chateau Frontenac, on top of the hill; but that vision was cancelled when we found out several months before the cruise that we would be docked at Pier 103.  It was 1.5 miles out of town and would require us to take a shuttle bus to the town.  We were disappointed, but at least it would be a free shuttle.

I thought that I might be able to get a photo of the hotel as we came past it on the way to our dock.  Since we weren’t supposed to dock until 8:00 AM, I thought I was safe by going to the upper decks before 7:00 AM.  I was wrong.  I got up there just after we passed by the hotel; but since I had my telephoto lens with me, I was able to capture it.  I still wished that we could have been docked right at the hotel like the other ships were.

     

The terminal was a large white building in the middle of a large concrete pad.  It was primarily a commercial dock.  The one positive was that once we got off the ship, the shuttle to town was right there.

Since I was the only one of the group that was interested in a morning walking tour of the city, I was on my own.  I had booked a tour with Tours Voir Quebec, www.toursvoirquebec.com/quebec-city. They had a very good reputation and several people from the Cruise Critic roll call were going, too.  I was supposed to meet for the tour at 9:30 AM; but had come into town as soon as I could at around 8:30 AM to be able to check out the city and get some photos before the tourists arrived. 

Quebec City has two parts, an Upper Town at the top of the hill and a Lower Town down by the water.  The shops along the waterfront across from the main port were so quaint.  It had a European feel, which I was liking.  There was also a view up to the hotel, which kept calling for me to get closer.  It would have to wait. 

     

As I kept walking up other streets, I was just overwhelmed with how beautiful the narrow streets with their many shops were.  Although I had just started exploring the Lower Town, I understood the appeal of this very popular tourist destination.  I was so glad we were going to have two days in Quebec City.

     

     

     

I liked the statue of Louis XIV.  It added to the Frenchness of the city.  But so did the French Pastries.  I still can’t believe I resisted and didn’t get one, but photos were more important to me at that moment.

     

I was quite glad to find the Funicular building, because it blends in too well with the other stores.  I totally passed it the first time I walked by.  I would not want to have to walk all the way up the hill if I didn’t have to.  After all, the funicular climbs up 195 feet.  Much better than walking.

Near the end of Rue de Petit Champlain is a building with the Petit Champlain Mural on the side of it.  It is a beautiful mural; but it is blocked in part by a green fence.  The only way to see the whole mural is to hold the camera above the fence and snap away.  It depicts the history of the area.

After seeing the first mural I went back up the street to find the Quebec City Mural, which covers the side of a five story building.  It shows 400 years of Quebec history and shows all four seasons, starting at the top in winter, then dropping down to fall, spring and summer at the bottom.

While on the walking tour, our guide would tell us who some of the people were on the mural as well as point out all sorts of other interesting things.  I have included a larger version of the mural below, so that you can see the detail. 

It was getting close to the start time for the tour, so I walked back to where the bus had originally dropped us off to join the group I would be walking with.  The Tours Voir Quebec tour guide for our walk was Justine.  She was just a wonderful woman with lots of energy and a lovely French accent.  With her bubbly personality and knowledge of the city, I knew this was going to be a good tour.  There were only eleven of us, which made it easy to get close to Justine to hear what she was saying.

Justine started the tour telling us all about the city and walking through some back streets that I hadn’t yet visited.  We were learning and seeing a lot.  But wherever we went, we could see up to the hotel.

I enjoyed seeing the canons aiming at the Holland America ships that were taking our place at the main dock.  The Summit should have been there.

She also took us back to the very busy Petite Champlain area I had visited earlier.  It was much more crowded.  There were also an assortment of interesting street entertainers.  I particularly liked the one with the gorgeous white dog.

     

The description of the tour on their website said “leisurely descending path through all the important sites of Old Quebec.” However, when we got to the funicular, Justine gave us a choice.  She said that if anyone wanted to take the funicular rather than walk up the hill, they could.  No one did, so we missed out on the leisurely descent and instead got to have our morning exercise. 

Our ascent started with climbing what are called the “Breakneck Steps”.  They really weren’t that bad.  We then had to walk up the inclined sidewalks to the top of the hill.  It wasn’t a problem for me; but I was surprised that some of the older folks on the tour didn’t just take the funicular.  Since the tour normally starts in upper town, the literature was correct. The company did the people on our cruise a favor by not only starting the tour at a special earlier time; but also starting it where the shuttle bus dropped us off.

I preferred the view looking down the steps rather than looking up.

We started our tour of Upper Town in Montmorency Park.  There were lots of lovely statues and just gorgeous buildings all around.

           

I also found the foliage covered planters to be rather unique decorations.

     

On top of the hill was the Notre-Dame Basilica-Cathedral.  A very impressive building.  Samuel de Champlain is buried in the church; but they don’t know which corpse is his.

The interior was even more impressive with the gilded altarpiece being the highlight.  There was a service in progress, so everyone was polite and only took a few photos.  I came back later with Carol when I wouldn’t disturb anyone, and got a lot more pictures, which are shown below.

     

       

     

The city hall was decorated for Halloween.

Justine took us to a small alley where there was an unusual looking statue.  It was donated by the creators of Cirque Du Soleil, who were from Quebec.

While we were walking around Upper Town, Justine stopped at a place where there were some farm animals, a donkey and goat.  I didn't expect to see these guys in Upper Town.  She pulled out an apple and asked if anyone would like to give it to Aldo the donkey.  Aldo did appreciate the gift but it took him several tries to keep it in his mouth.  He apparently receives regular gifts from visitors and tour guides.  The goat was too short to be able to take advantage of people’s generosity.  Although we were sure that Aldo shared his apples with the goat.

     

We had noticed that the top roof on the Chateau Frontenac was a different color from the others.  Justine told us that the prior year, it was replaced at a cost of $7.5 million.  The copper roof starts out a bright copper color.  Over the years, it then turns dull and then as green as the rest of the roofs on the building were.  She told us that after the roof was completed, calls were received reporting that the hotel was on fire because it appeared so when the sun shined on it.  When we saw another building with a fairly new copper roof on it, we understood how it could look like fire from a distance, especially on a sunny day, rather than the cloudy one we were experiencing. 

We finished the tour in Upper Town at the hotel.  It had been most enjoyable.  We were then free to walk along the lovely promenade in front of the hotel.  It was a perfect place  to get a view to the river, people watch, or take in the scenery.

     

     

There was also a nice statue of Samuel de Champlain and The Wolfe-Montcalm Monument; which is an obelisk in memory of the two generals on opposite sides of the battle at the Plains of Abraham.

        
Since I knew I would be coming back later with Carol, I took the funicular down the hill.  What I thought would be an easy walk to the bus stop turned out not to be.  Rather than taking a right turn near the bottom of the hill, I went straight.  I found that I was back where the canons were aimed at the HAL ships, where there was no exit down to the streets.  So I came back out of that area and immediately took another wrong turn and ended up taking a much longer walk back to the bus stop.  I really didn’t need more exercise at that point.  I was glad to get on the bus and go back to the ship for a quick light lunch.

Carol and I came back into town and looked around Lower Town briefly and then got on the funicular for Upper Town.  We figured we would go there first before Carol got tired out.  Lower Town would be an easier place to end our touring, since she could hang around the many stores down there and easily get to the bus.  The weather had warmed up and it was much sunnier.  It made everything look prettier.  Carol made the planter look prettier too.

     

While touring with Justine, she told us about a store that sold maple products.  I wanted to go by and see what they had.  It didn’t look like it would be that far on the map.  Maps can be deceiving.  On the way we passed by the beautiful Ministry of Finance building.


Further on past many tempting stores, we came to the fortification wall, which goes around the city. 

     

When I found the street we needed to turn down to get to the maple store, it was a fairly steep decline.  I was worried that there might be an incline later that would not be Carol friendly; but we walked on.  Near the bottom of the hill, we quickly spotted the maple leaf sign that Justine had described for us to find the store.

The store had so many different maple products.  My favorite thing about the store was that there were many samples to try.  We did buy several tasty items.  Some for the remainder of the cruise and some to take home with us.  I wasn’t sure how to get back to where we needed to go to either catch the funicular or bus; so I looked at the Quebec app I had on my iPhone and found a route that looked reasonable.  It wasn’t bad and the incline was pretty mild; but more walking than Carol should have done.  We ended up at Notre-Dame Basilica-Cathedral, where we were able to look around and take more photos, since the Sunday services were over.

Carol wanted to look for some gifts to take home, so we walked over to a store named Cool as a Moose.  It sounded like a real Canadian souvenir shop.  They did have an awful lot of very cute, very tempting items.

On our way to the funicular we passed by another lovely statue, the Récollets Monument.  It honors the group that was a reform branch of friars that became known as the Franciscans.

     

Since the funicular wasn’t crowded, I was able to get a photo looking down.

When we did arrive in Lower Town, I was surprised at how crowded it was.  I was so glad I had been there early in the morning to see it in a more pristine state. 

I wanted to do some more exploring; but Carol had already walked a lot more than she should, so she just wanted to look around a few shops and then go back to the ship.  I asked her if she knew how to get back to the bus stop or if she wanted me to take her there.  She said she thought she knew where to go.  She confirmed with me that it was just straight down the street.  I told her it was.  Right after she left, I remembered the mistake I had made in the morning and hoped that she realized that she had to turn before the dead end.

I continued to walk around Lower Town and was thrilled to find some lovely fall colors; but the streets were so crowded, I didn’t want to stay too long.

     

On the way to the bus stop, I did take the correct turn.  I had to wait a little while for the shuttle bus. 

When I got back to our cabin, Carol told me that she had just gotten back.  I couldn’t believe it since I had left her well before I headed for the shuttle bus.  She apparently made the same mistake I had made in the morning and had ended up taking a much longer walk to find the bus.  She was really hurting and was not particularly happy with her husband for not giving her more precise directions.

When I walked out onto our veranda, I was thrilled with the view.  We had the best fall colors we had seen the whole trip right across the river.  Truly beautiful.  This is what we had hoped to see on the cruise.

 

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