Colonial America Cruise on the Oceania Vista
9/29/2023 to 10/14/2023



Click on the above link buttons that will take you directly to a particular page or area of the review; or you can just click through to the next page at the bottom of each page.
Page 1 – Pre-trip in Montreal
Page 2 – Ship, Cabin, Dining, Activities, Entertainment
Page 3 - Ship (continued); Ports of Call:  Quebec City, Canada; Saguenay, Canada; Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada; Shelburne, Nova Scotia, Canada
Page 4 - Ports of Call:  Bar Harbor, ME; Portland, ME; Martha’s Vineyard, MA; New York City, NY
Page 5 - Ports of Call:  New York City, NY (continued}; Charleston, SC; Miami, FL 




Oceania is our favorite cruise line, so when I was able to book a cruise on their newest ship, the Vista, I jumped on it.  I also liked the fall color itinerary that started in Montreal, a city that I hadn’t visited in the past.  I had taken a fall color cruise in 2013 after I retired and loved it, so I hoped that we would be able to see beautiful colors that we don’t see in south Florida.  Not long after I booked it, my good friends Jim and Kathleen, whom I have cruised with many times also booked the cruise.  Then Jim’s brother and sister-in-law, Steve and Jamie, booked the cruise.  Then a friend of Jim’s also booked it, so we would be a group of seven.  Below is the only photo I took of the whole group.  It was going to be a great cruise!

Jamie, Steve, Cathy
Jocelyn, Kathleen, Jim


Pre-Cruise in Montreal, Canada – Day 1

With the cruise ending in Miami, we only needed one-way flights to Montreal.  We were able to fly out of West Palm Beach, which is much closer than Fort Lauderdale or Miami.  With our connecting flight stopping at La Guardia, we had great views of Manhattan as we were landing.  The weather was so clear.


We had a three-hour layover.  Since we were able to stay in the Delta Sky Lounge, the wait was most enjoyable.  On the way to the lounge, I looked out a window and couldn’t believe how many taxis were waiting to pick up passengers.

We landed in Montreal before 4:00 PM.  It was the fastest immigration ever for us.  Less than 5 minutes.  We downloaded the ArriveCan app and completed the required information before the cruise.  We were able to just walk up to a kiosk, smile while they scanned our faces, and we were done.  We were totally shocked when we went to baggage claim and our luggage was already on the carousel.  That is unheard of these days, at least for us.

We went outside to the area marked for Uber and were on our way in just a few minutes.  We were staying at the Homewood Suites Downtown.  The hotel had several names on it.

The location was perfect, since it was a short walk to the old town and main attractions.  The gate at the entrance to Chinatown was right next to the hotel.

It was a very nice hotel with outstanding rooms.  It would be a perfect place for an extended stay since it had a full kitchen along with a washer and dryer.  It was a good size comfortable room.




We were very impressed with one feature, a safe in a drawer.  It was large and easy to use.

The bathroom was also a nice size with a large shower.


We met Jim, Kathleen and Jocelyn for dinner.  Steve and Jamie wouldn’t arrive until close to midnight due to a very long layover.  We were going to Qing Hua Dumplings, which is a dim sum place.  It was very popular and quite crowded.  We were glad that Jim had made reservations.


Cathy and I hadn’t been to one of these before, so we were looking forward to the experience.  The main things on the menu were dumplings, which we love.  Each order had 15 dumplings, so we ordered several different menu items so we could each try different types.  Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the meal. 


We were ready for an early evening after a busy travel day.  We were also looking forward to exploring Montreal the next day.


Pre-Cruise in Montreal, Canada – Day 2

I went out in the morning to check out Chinatown.  It was going to be a beautiful touring day with lows in the upper 50’s and highs around 70.  There were lots of restaurants and the Place Sun Yat Sen, a park that hosts festivals and cultural events. Sun Yat Sen was a philosopher and political leader who is considered the Father of the Nation of present-day China.


Jim had booked a fun activity for us, the Secret Food Tour.  We took an Uber to Montreal’s Mile End section where we would sample some foods from different restaurants.  We arrived early at our meeting place, the Guillaume Bakery.  We met our guide Eric, who was just an awesome guide and just a great guy to spend the morning with. 

He told us to check out the bakery while we waited for the rest of the group to arrive.  The place smelled so good and had so many treats we would have loved to taste. 


When everyone had arrived, Eric had us meet next to the bakery where he told us about himself, what we would be doing and some history.   While he was talking, he handed out the first item, Brioche from the bakery.  I thought it was the best thing we had during the whole tour. 


This tour was also a sightseeing tour of the area, so we had pretty long walks between stops.  We also enjoyed seeing the area, especially some of colorful murals. 


Our next stop was at Drogheria Fine, where we had some gnocchi with tomato sauce.  Eric said that their sauce is what makes the place so popular.  It was OK.


The kitchen was tiny.

We continued our walk to the Green Panther.  This is a vegetarian restaurant.  We had a jackfruit sandwich, which was pretty tasty.   It was a first for us.


On the way to our next destination, we passed by St. Michael’s and St. Anthony’s Catholic Church.  I wish we had been able to see the interior.

It was then on to St Viateur Bagel.  This is a bagel factory where Eric said we would be able to get warm bagels. They make honey baked bagels.  The ones that were warm were sesame bagels.  Very good, but we couldn’t eat it all, since we were already filling up and concerned that we would be able to handle what about what was to come


We next went to Poutineville, which serves the areas popular food item poutine.  This is basically French fries covered in bean curd and brown gravy.  Cathy and I have both had it before and didn’t care for it.  We were served a barbecued beef poutine, which had beef in the gravy.  It was the best poutine I have had, but I still wouldn’t order it on my own.


Our last stop was at Caffe Grazie Millie where we were offered a selection of their cannolis.  As we were eating them and finishing up the tour, Eric recapped our experiences and thanked us for joining him. 


It had been an enjoyable tour, but a bit too much walking for some of the group that have mobility issues.  But everyone survived.  The tour ran from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM.  We Ubered back to the hotel to rest before our next adventure.

Since we were so close to Notre Dame Cathedral and the Port of Montreal, I decided to go out on my own to see the area.  There were some beautiful buildings around Montreal.  Not far away from the hotel was Place d’Arms where the Notre Dame Cathedral is located.  On one side of Place d’Arms is the old Bank of Montreal building that was constructed in 1847.  A beautiful Pantheon type of building.


The main structure to see is Notre Dame itself.  It is a smaller building than I expected it to be.  The Notre Dame cathedrals in Paris and Marseilles are much grander, but this is still a special place.  I would be back a couple times more to see the interior.


In front of the cathedral is the Maisonneuve Monument.  The monument is dedicated to Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve, the founder of Montreal.  It was unveiled in 1895 for the 250th anniversary of the founding of the city.  I liked the character at the base of the monument.


The Oceania Vista was in port, since it would be docked overnight.  I wanted to go see it and get some photos that I might use for the for the first page of the review.  It was there, but since it was being fueled, I would have to come back for better shots the next day. 


The cruise terminal itself was very attractive and recently renovated. 

That evening we had tickets for the Aura show at the cathedral.  Below is the description of the light show that is much more descriptive than anything I could write.

Light unveils the richness of Notre-Dame’s heritage and invites you to celebrate its beauty. The AURA Experience immerses you in a captivating visual and musical universe, presented upon one of the most sublime canvases imaginable: the French-inspired, Gothic Revival architectural interior of Notre-Dame Basilica of Montréal. The experience offers a four-act multimedia display of dynamic light, orchestral music, and expressive architecture.

The tickets Jim had purchased also included touring the cathedral before the show.  We arrived there about a half hour before the 5:30 PM entry for Aura so we could take photos of the cathedral’s interior.  As we walked to the entrance, we were told that the cathedral closed at 5:00 PM to get ready for the show.  So, we were pretty much the first people in line. The line did get quite long before they let us in.  We weren’t allowed to take photos or videos during the presentation.  I’m actually glad we couldn’t, since I wouldn’t have appreciated it as much if I was focusing on photos rather than enjoying the magnificent display.  But we were able to take photos before and after it, which I have included below.  





When we entered, it was quite dark.  Then we realized that all the windows had been covered to prevent any light from entering.  That is why they needed down time before letting us in.  The illumination of the cathedral was spectacular.  Such a gorgeous sight!  The show itself was so beautiful and a must-see attraction in Montreal.  Since we couldn’t see the cathedral as it normally is, we planned on returning the next morning.

After the show we were hungry but didn’t want to go to a big dinner.  After all, we would be getting on the Vista the next day where we would eat way more than we needed to.  We had noticed that the restaurant/bar at the hotel, Brasserie Blandino, had some very looking pizza.  It was also a very attractive restaurant.  We decided to have some drinks and pizza for dinner.  It was a great choice!  Everything was outstanding.


That night we had to pack since we were boarding the Vista the next day.  We were looking forward to seeing Oceania’s new class of ship.


Montreal, Canada – Day 3

Since we hadn’t been able to take all the photos of Notre Dame that we wanted to before the Aura show, we headed there after breakfast.  We had plenty of time before we needed to get to the ship for embarkation.  When we arrived, the tickets Jim had purchased were still good.  The cathedral looked very much like we had seen it the previous night, but it was a bit brighter inside and more was illuminated.  It was a very different look from the different lighting in the darkened cathedral.






The pulpit was particularly ornate.



It was a treat to finally be able to see the gorgeous stained glass since the windows had been uncovered after the Aura show.



On the way back to the hotel I was able to take a couple photos of some whimsical white statues at the Parc de la Presse. The park is named after one of the city’s newspapers.  When we passed there the previous night, there were many homeless people who had set up tents in the park, so we didn’t go in to take photos.  The park was still occupied by their transient residents, but I was able to take some photos from across the street.


Jim had stayed up late a month before the cruise to obtain early boarding for our group.  We were scheduled for 11:30 AM, which would be great for having lunch at a normal time.  The day before the cruise we were notified that due to operational issues boarding would be delayed.  The large suites could board at 12:00 PM, the PH Suites at 1:00 PM and everyone else at 2:00 PM.  It didn’t seem logical that it would take an hour for each of the groups before our 2:00 PM group, so we decided to leave to go to the terminal at 11:00 AM, drop off our luggage and see what was happening.  After all, there wasn’t anything else we could do.  When the Uber dropped us off, the terminal was pretty empty.  We went inside to see when we might be able to board.  The attendants at the desk looked happy to see us since it had been an unusually slow morning for them.    

We were able to get to the buffet for our first Vista meal around noon.  After lunch, they began calling different cabin categories to board by deck.  We were in our cabin by 1:30 PM.  I began my tour of the ship taking lots of photos of the different venues and menus.

From deck 15, I was right beside the 213-foot Port of Montreal Tower that had just opened in May.  The city recently completed a major renovation of the passenger terminal area.  It made it more of a destination for tourists and residents.  While we were there many people were visiting the terminal to just walk around, go to restaurants, visit the tower, or just enjoy the area.

We stayed on the ship the rest of the day since we docked overnight and would have another day to tour Montreal.  That evening after dinner, I went outside to take night shots of the Vista.


Montreal, Canada – Day 4

We were going to do a walking tour of the old town area in the morning and look for a boat tour of the St. Lawrence River in the afternoon.   Once again, we were having another gorgeous day.  We had been very lucky with the weather during our Montreal visit.  The old town, which was founded in 1642, was just a short walk from our hotel.  It was a pleasure to walk along the bricked pedestrian streets.  There were lots of interesting nicely decorated shops.



Some had their Halloween decorations up.


We even got to see a little fall color.  With global warming our late September/early October cruise was too early to see much of the fall colors like I had seen just ten years that started just a week later.

We came to Nelson’s Column, a monument dedicated to Admiral Horatio Nelson.  It was erected in 1808, three years after his death at the Battle of Trafalgar.  It is the city’s oldest monument and the oldest war monument in Canada.


Close to the column is the Hotel de Ville, which is being renovated.  Quite an impressive building.


Continuing we came to Vauquelin Square.  There is a fountain with a statue of Jean Vauquelin, who was a Captain in the French Navy.


We continued walking through old town, when we came to an impressive building we had earlier seen from a distance.  I had originally thought that it was a church or city hall type building.  It was the Bon Secours Market.  It is a two-story public market built in 1847.  With the interior just being a bunch of shops, there wasn’t any architectural beauty to take photos of.


We passed by the front of the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours, which is a pilgrimage chapel dating back to 1771.  It is referred to as the Sailors Church. 


When we walked to the next block, we then saw the very impressive back side of the Sailors Church.  It was adorned with beautiful statues.



From the church, we could see the 148-foot-tall Clock Tower.  There are 192 steps to the top if one wanted to climb it, which I didn’t. 

We hadn’t pre-booked a river cruise since we didn’t know when we would be able to go.  We headed to the docks where there were several options, but only one boat, the Le Bateau Mouche, fit our needs.  They had a one-hour tour that left at 2:30 PM, which worked great with our 6:00 PM sailing time.  Everyone wanted to go on the tour, as did I.  But I wanted to do something else before the tour while everyone else went back to the ship for lunch.  One of the most popular tourist attractions in Montreal is St. Joseph’s Oratory on Mount Royal.  I had seen photos of the structure for many years and didn’t want to miss what might be my only opportunity to ever see it in person.  I needed to be back by 2:00 PM to meet the others to get tickets for the boat tour, so I got an Uber to take me to Mount Royal.  With it being 11:30 AM, I figured that 2.5 hours should be plenty of time to get there and back as well as explore the oratory.  The driver asked where I wanted to be dropped off.  I told him as close to the oratory as possible.  He came to a parking lot that he would have had to pay to enter, so he passed by it looking for a place to drop me off.  I told him that I could just walk to it.  I had no idea what I had committed to.  When I got back to the parking area, I saw that there was a free shuttle bus to take visitors up the hill.  It was much higher up than I thought it was, so I was glad I wouldn’t have to walk.  There was about a five-minute wait for the next bus. 

The bus dropped us off at the back of the oratory, where I couldn’t see the front exterior view I was looking for.  But it did bring me to the oratory’s entrance.  An oratory is a place of prayer, but it is a structure other than a parish church.  The name kind of conflicts with the descriptions I have read that say it is a Catholic minor basilica and a national shrine.  It is also considered Canada’s largest churches and it has one of the largest domes in the world.  It is the largest domed basilica in North America.  The interior was more modern than I expected.  It was a massive basilica.



When I left to go back outside for exterior shots, I walked around the parking lot to get the best angles of the dome from the side of the church.  They are the best ones I would get.


I climbed the stairs to get to the front of the church.  I was too close to get a photo, so I walked out onto the large terrace.  There were views looking down into the city, but not the more attractive parts.


The bronze Angels Unawares statue on the terrace was quite interesting.  Below is the official description of the statue from the St. Joseph’s website.

This monumental sculpture refers to the duty of hospitality and solidarity of every human being, evoking an evangelical precept from the New Testament: ” Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” (Letter to the Hebrews 13:2). The artist depicts children, women and men of different origins and times, piled up on a boat (this can be distinguished by the clothes, hairstyles and accessories), while the wings of an angel appear in the middle of the group.


I took some photos of the front of the oratory, but the sun was at the wrong angle and there was no way to get far enough away to get the image I wanted.   Some of the paths were closed due to construction which might have been the issue. 


There was a lot more to see at the oratory than I had time for, but I got to see what I needed to.  I took the bus back down the hill and walked out to the street to order an Uber.  It took a while to arrive, and traffic was pretty heavy.  I got back in time to go to the buffet for a quick bite before meeting the others at the boat dock.  The Le Bateau Mouche was a very nice and comfortable boat for a tour.  I was impressed with it having solar panels on it.  A good way to shade the customers on the lower level from the sun. 


We were on the top level and would have great views of the sights we were passing. 


After leaving the dock area we got nice views of the Clock Tower and the Jacques Cartier Bridge.  The narrator pointed out the decorations on the top of the bridge that looked like small Eiffel Towers.


We were able to see Levi’s Tower, which is a water tower built in the 1930’s.  Its nothing special, but it does look cool.


In the distance, we could see the Montreal Tower, that was built for the 1976 Montreal Olympics.  It is the tallest inclined structure in the world at 541 feet.  It sits at a 45 degree angle.  This photo isn't from an angle to show the tower's extreme slant.

We also passed by Six Flags amusement park, but we couldn’t see much of it. I did take a photo that included some of Six Flags while we were walking back from old town. 

On the way back to the ship, we could see the Montreal Biosphere in the distance.  It was built for Expo 67 and is an environmental museum.

We passed by the Vista and were able to see a uniquely constructed condo complex.

I was glad to be able to see some parts of Montreal that we hadn’t seen, but most things were too far away.  I’m glad we did it, but I wouldn’t recommend it.  A hop on hop off buss would probably be a better way to see the sights outside of the city center.  Before getting back on the ship, I took some photos of the front of the vista with its emblem.


The ship left the dock around 6:00 PM.  I was on the upper decks for sailaway.  I took some photos of the area around the terminal.  It is a nice one.





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