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

 

Day 2 in Quebec City -
Our string of beautiful weather had finally ended, it was raining and cold.  One reason I wanted to do as much as possible the first day was that the weather forecast hadn't been as good for Day 2; and also, it was Canada's Thanksgiving Day.  We were worried that some stores and attractions might be closed.  It turned out that almost everything was open; and we realized that the long holiday weekend was part of the reason the streets had been so crowded.

We had scheduled a ship excursion for after lunch, so hopefully the weather would improve by then.  Carol had no intention of doing anything except resting her aching back until it was time for the excursion.  I wasn’t about to waste any exploring time in the beautiful city of Quebec, even if the weather wasn’t optimal.  Once again I was in town around 8:30 AM.  The streets were wet and empty.  I had the town to myself; as well as the funicular. 
From the promenade, I was able to get a nice unobstructed view of the hotel, since I was alone.

An area that I had been interested in seeing was the Citadel and Plains of Abraham, the site of a famous battle during the French and Indian War.  I had seen the Citadel from the promenade the previous day and wanted to get closer to get a photo.  I was also curious about the toboggan ramp at the end of the promenade that Justine had pointed out to us the previous day.  I would love to see it in action; but not bad enough to have to brave the freezing weather. To satisfy my curiousity, I Googled it and found a video of people toboganning down the Promenade. It looks like a hoot and the ride ends just in front of the hotel.

     



On the other side of the toboggan ramp was a sign telling about the Governor’s Walkway that went all the way to the Plains of Abraham around the Citadel.  It was just under a half mile; but it had 310 steps.  Since I didn’t have anything else to do, I decided to at least do the first part and see how it went. 

     

There were a lot of steps throughout the whole trail.  I would walk up a bunch of steps, then walk down a wood plank path till there were more steps.  Even with the limited visibility, the view from the path was lovely.  If I ever return to Quebec and am there on a pretty day, I will do it again. 

     

     

It didn’t take long before I wasn’t cold anymore.  The exercise certainly warmed me up.  At long last, I reached the end of the trail where there was a pavilion.  With the fog, the view from it wasn’t much to look at.  Later that day, when I got back to the ship and it had cleared off, I could see the pavilion up on the mountain from the Summit’s upper decks.  It would have been a very nice view from the pavilion in better weather.  While I was there, a bus of tourists arrived and walked out to the pavilion.  They had taken a much easier method to get there.

     

I walked around looking at different views of the Citadel and the Plains of Abraham, which were just nice lawns; but I was very glad that I had taken the Governor’s Walkway and seen more of the area.  I felt like I had accomplished something.

     

     

The walk back down was much easier.  There still weren’t many people walking around.  I took a few more photos of beautiful Quebec City and headed back to the ship for lunch and to get ready for our afternoon tour.

     

     

Our whole group had booked the St-Anne-de-Beaupre & Montmorency Falls excursion with Celebrity.  We thought it would be a chance to see some of the main tourist spots outside of town, plus give everyone a rest from the walking they had done the previous day while exploring Quebec.  Our tour guide for the day was the wonderful Renée.  During the whole tour, she was so entertaining and informative.  She told wonderful stories and kept the bus laughing.  She was a first class tour guide and everyone just loved her.

As we started out, the weather was still overcast.  The rain was supposed to be over; but one never knows about weather forecasts.  We drove to our first destination the Basilica of St-Anne-de-Beaupre.  We had read during our cruise planning that it was a “must see” place, so we weren’t going to miss it.  On the way there we passed by our second destination for the tour, Montmorency Falls.  Since we were in the bus taking photos while moving down the highway and through darkened windows, the photo is not that good; but it was the only photo we were able to take from a distance showing the full falls.  The photos taken when we got there weren’t from an angle that showed how large it was.

While we were driving, the skies were clearing and we could see the brightly colored trees.  They were gorgeous; but not something that could be photographed.  But that was OK, since when we arrived at the Basilica, the clouds had opened up to show the blue skies.  It was almost like it was planned for our arrival.  The beautiful church along with the natural beauty of the forest was just breathtaking. 

     

The exterior was so beautiful in so many ways.  The building itself is made of a sparkling silver granite.  I was running around the grounds snapping away before the clouds decided to spoil the view.

     

       

Renée had told us that she would first take us to the underground chapel to see a full sized replica of Michelangelo's Pietà that is in the Vatican.  Since I had spent so much time on the exterior, I went into the church a different way; but was finally able to find the large underground chapel.  It was quite pretty on its own.

     

On one side of it was the Pietà.  We had previously seen the original in Rome, but it is behind glass.  This one was just sitting there in all its glorious splendor.  Just beautiful.

     

I found a stairway to the main sanctuary; but it came in from the side rather than the main entrance.  So I entered right in the middle of the room, and what a room it was.  The stained glass and ceilings were so gorgeous.

     

     

There was so much to take in and so much beauty.  The numerous arched pillars and mosaics blended into such a beautiful structure.  It definitely was a “must see”. 

     

The altar was lovely, but the main attraction was the Statue of St. Anne, who was the mother of the Virgin Mary.  Many people were around the base of the statue praying.  It was a magnificent statue.

       

Carol was intensely moved by a very lifelike statue of Jesus that was on one side of the church.

All around the outside of the altar were beautiful small chapels, each a work of art.  I have only shown a few photos of them, since I didn’t want to overdo it.

     

       

     

     

     

     

It was getting close to the time I needed to get back to the bus, so I quickly exited out the front door.  In my haste, I had totally missed the pillars at the entrance of the church where racks of crutches, canes and braces have been left by pilgrims who have reportedly been healed at the Basilica.  Fortunately, Hans did take a couple of photos of them that I have included below. 

       

It does seem like a place where miracles happen.  That is probably partially why 2,000,000 visitors a year come to the Basilica.

We took a different road back to the falls that was more of a back country road than the highway we had arrived on.  Renée pointed out root cellars and other structures that were common in the area.  It was a very nice drive, which allowed us to see what life in the rural communities of Quebec was like.  After we got back on the highway, the drive to the falls didn’t take too long. 

We stopped near the top of the falls at a small inn.  We were told that we could take the easier upper route to the bridge over the falls that didn’t require any steps if we went to the left; or take the lower path to the right which had steps, but would provide different views.  There weren’t many steps down to the lower path, and they were graduated and not too steep.  The benefit of doing the lower path was that there was an overlook that would give a partial view of the falls from a different angle.

     

I could also see a different path across the river below the falls that would give a different angle; but that one did not look like a walk I wanted to experience.

When I came back up from the viewing platform, Carol was on the lower path.  I didn’t understand why she had taken it rather than the easier path.  She said she hadn't been able to find the upper path, so she had taken the lower one. At the beginning of the lower path the steps had appeared doable to her, so she had walked the entire length of the lower trail.  Unfortunately, at the end of the lower trail she was confronted by steep steps down to the overlook or a lot of steps up to the bridge over the falls.  So, she had to turn around and go back the way she had come. 


I climbed the steps to get to the bridge over the falls.  It was a very sturdy bridge; but the view of the falls wasn’t that good from it.  It just didn’t show its grandeur.  The falls is taller than Niagara Falls; but significantly narrower.

     

The upper section looked pretty with the brightly colored trees reflected in the still water.

The view of the surrounding area was great.  I could see the landing that I had taken photos from on the lower walkway.        

     

Jerry and Diane were also on the bridge.  I asked them if they took the easy path and they said they had.  When they left, I went with them.  I could see why Carol couldn’t find the path, since there really wasn’t one.  It was just a dirt road with no markings, and she had not gone down the road far enough to get to the bridge.  On the way back, there was a nice grove of trees turning colors. 

When I got back to the inn, Carol and I admired the garden area.

     

The ride back to the Summit didn’t take very long.  We had thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon tour and thanked Renée for a job well done.

On our sail away, I hoped to be able to get photos of the Chateau Frontenac with the lights highlighting it.   I was in luck, it looked beautiful.

We also passed by Quebec’s Image Mill.  It is a grain elevator that is used as a screen for a light show depicting the history of Quebec.  It is supposed to be quite a show.  Unfortunately, since we were at the wrong terminal, we couldn’t see it while we were there; but we at least could see how large it was, since it was lit up.

We had enjoyed a couple of wonderful days in Quebec City.  It was now on our list of favorite cities we had visited.  Now we have to go back for a longer visit.  The next day would be a relaxing sea day, so we would be ready for our last port of the cruise.

 

Gaspé, Canada

We woke up to a lovely sunrise as we sailed toward Gaspé.  Gaspé is a fairly new port for major cruise lines and not one that is visited frequently.  As a result there were very few options for excursions other than through Celebrity, and those were very expensive.  We had found an individual that actually organizes the buses for the various cruise lines.  He offers a very reasonably priced tour to Percé Rock, which is where I wanted to visit.  Ken runs Ken's Gaspé/Percé guided tours, www.infogaspesie.com/ville.php?Vacances=112.  Rather than having to pay $148 for Celebrity's cheapest "Percé on Your Own excursion", Ken’s tour just cost $46.  Hard to beat, so a group of us from Cruise Critic had booked him.

Gaspé was the other tender port we had.  Once again, since we were getting off the ship early, there was no line for the tender.  But once we got into the tender we found that we had very cold weather.  It was just 30 degrees, the coldest temperature we had experienced by a long shot.  Jerry and Diane had decided not to go on the tour, since Jerry wasn’t feeling well.  Carol’s back was still bothering her; but she got on the tender anyway.  By the time the tender docked and Carol saw that there was a steep ramp to climb, she decided to pass on the tour and go back to the ship.  The cold weather and climbing did not appeal to her.  So it was just Hans, Barbara and me going on the tour.

Since we had arrived early, I walked over to the restaurant that we had been told had free Wi-Fi to check on my email.  I wasn’t alone.  It was a popular place.

The area around the terminal looked very nice.  I had read that the area would have some of the nicest terrain we would see on the cruise. 

     

The terminal building itself looked fairly new and was very roomy inside. 

     


Ken’s pre-cruise information had told us that we would either have a regular tour bus or a school bus depending on various factors.  In a recent reminder email he told us that we would have the school bus.  It wasn’t that big a deal, since the cruise lines also had to use the school busses in Gaspé.  Ken was easy to spot in the terminal with his large sign.  He directed us out to the bus and we were very surprised to find a very nice and comfortable tour bus rather than the school bus.  He told us that a large group had previously booked the bus but cancelled at the last minute, so the 39 of us were benefiting from their loss.

     

Ken was a very pleasant sincere gentleman who was very proud of the Gaspé area.  He was also very knowledgeable and would turn out to be a real pleasure to tour with.  We really liked Ken and were so grateful that we had an alternative to the cruise line tour.

As we passed through Gaspé, Ken pointed out one of their major industries, a wind turbine company.  We had seen many windmills in Europe before, as well as on this cruise in every port we visited; but seeing them on the ground, they looked massive.

As we continued the drive, we enjoyed the mountainous terrain.  Since they have colder weather in Gaspe, the peak fall colors had already passed.   But there were plenty of colors to see.  I was particularly enamored by the bushes with the red berries on them.

     

     

We stopped at a little park along the water to see Indian Head Rock.  It was also a restroom break for those that were in need.  It had warmed up considerably with the bright sunshine.  It was nice to be able to see the coastline that was so different from prior ports we had visited.  Ken told us that we would need to walk a little if we wanted to actually see the Indian head, since you had to be at the right angle.   Although the light wasn’t perfect, it was easy to see the image when we got to the viewing spot.

     

We got back on the bus and continued on our way.  Shortly we slowed down for a view of Percé Rock in the distance, where we were headed to.  We wouldn’t actually get there for another 45 minutes.  It was further away than it looked.

Our next stop was at a wetland called the Malbaie Salt Marsh.  It was a photo opp and restroom break.

     

The scenery kept getting prettier the further we drove.  I was thoroughly enjoying the beautiful drive.

     

     

At last we arrived in Percé.  Ken stopped across from his motel restaurant, the Fleur de Lys, www.fleurdelysperce.com.  The information on this link is in French; but the link for Ken that I provided earlier also has info for the hotel restaurant in English. 

Since it was getting close to lunch time, he told us we were free to eat wherever we wanted.  He did let us know that his restaurant had a lobster roll lunch with soup, salad and dessert for $12 if anyone was interested.  He only had room for 25 people.  We would need to go into the restaurant to pay for our tour during our stop.  We could also pay for our meal at the same time if we wanted to.  It was convenient, since he took credit cards.  I wanted to get photos of the rock while the sun was shining, so I headed down to the beach.  What an impressive rock.  It is 1,545 feet long and 288 feet high.  That is more than one and a half times as long as the Celebrity Summit and as tall as a 29 story building.  Mighty big.

     

     

One of the tours that are sometimes available are boat rides around Bonaventure Island, which is right across from where we were taking photos.  The appeal of the ride is to see the largest Gannet colony in North America.  We could see lots of birds around the rock.  They were diving into the water for food; but they were too far away to get good photos of them.  I hoped I would have time after lunch to walk to the other end of town to see them. 

The little restaurant was very nice with a homey atmosphere.  Most people must have decided to eat there, since it was full at lunch time.  The meal was a nice light lunch and was well worth the price.

     

After lunch I walked back down to the water to see if the Gannets were still diving into the water near the pier.  I was thrilled to see that they had actually moved quite close, so I pulled out my telephoto lens to see if I could get a nice photo.  I found that among the Gannets were a lot of sea gulls, so I had to pick out the right white birds.  The yellow heads did make it easier.  They were just in the area for a few minutes and headed down the beach.  They had saved me the long walk to the pier.

     

The drive back seemed to go much faster and we enjoyed the scenery.

     

The Summit was in the bay waiting for us.  I went back to the restaurant to check my email and then to the tender dock for the short ride back to the ship.  It had been a most enjoyable day.  I think once people find out about what a nice port Gaspé is it will grow in popularity. 

     

We had two sea days left to enjoy the Summit and pack for our trip home. 

 

Disembarkation
I woke up before we docked at Bayonne.  Since we hadn’t arrived I wondered if perhaps I would be able to get a panorama shot of the Big Apple.  I opened the curtains and grabbed my camera.  I had lucked out.

     

We had originally planned on taking a limo or taxi back to the airport; but decided to just use the Celebrity transfers, since it only cost $56 for the two of us; about the same as a taxi.  I assumed it would take out some of the hassle, too.  I was right.  Since we were in a Concierge Class cabin, we were told to wait in the Normandie Restaurant, where there would be coffee and some breakfast foods.  With our assigned time to leave the ship being 8:20 AM, we got to the Normandie before 8:00 AM.  The place was packed to the gills.  There were no chairs available anywhere.  Carol spotted the bench at the piano in the corner and we were thrilled to get it.  More people kept flowing into the restaurant.   People were not happy that there was no place to sit.  The people standing next to us weren’t supposed to disembark until 9:50 AM.  That would not be a good end to a cruise.  We were happy when our number was called.  Just like when the cruise started, we got on a shuttle bus to take us to the terminal.  Once in the terminal, it was very easy to find our luggage and walk it over to the bus.  We arrived at the airport with a few hours to kill and catch up on our reading.  We were ready to get back to warm south Florida.

 

Recap
It had been a wonderful cruise with good friends.  We accomplished our goals of visiting NYC and Quebec, as well as finally getting to see the lovely New England/Canada fall foliage.  It had been a very good vacation.  It was time to start working on the next one.

 

     

 

 

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