We flew from Newark at 7:15 AM to Montreal and arrived at 9AM. We were shuttled to the pier by Gerry & Associates. We had been told at the airport that the Westerdam was late in arriving in Montreal and so they would be delayed getting on their ship.
The main problem was that they put passengers from two different ships on the same bus.
We sat on the bus for one hour and fifteen minutes without any explanation.
A HAL rep boarded and announced that anyone embarking the Westerdam (which was two hours late arriving in Montreal) should leave the bus.
About sixteen persons embarking on the AMSTERDAM were left on the bus. No one told us why we were sitting still.
We did not board the ship until @ 1PM, leaving us no time to walk around Old Montreal, which is within walking distance of the pier. When I wrote a letter to the Guest Relation Manager on the Amsterdam, she sent us a complimentary bottle of wine and an apology. She told us that she would notify all pertinent personnel of the mishap. I did the same by sending the same letter in our cruise survey “Comments”.
We were also disappointed that we did not get early seating, since I am insulin dependent. I will be sure to get a letter from the doctor that I must eat by 6: 30 PM instead of 8: 30 PM. The Maitre’d explanation was that the early seating was filled in March and we booked the cruise in JULY.
HAL should also open up more excursions since people use the Internet to book excursions leaving the people who wait until they board to book out in the cold.
Quebec: Montmorency Falls and St. Anne de Beaupre Cathedral- beautiful water falls that freeze up in the winter, beautiful fall foliage and the cathedral was very impressive.
The chapel below has a replica of the Pieta and many colorful nature mosaics on the walls, a beautiful pipe organ as well.
A native Quebois artist fashioned the beautiful copper doors of this cathedral. WE stopped at his family’s art gallery on the way back to the ship. His youngest daughter did a demonstration of the embossing technique used with the copper. Very beautiful art pieces at a quite reasonable price.
Saguenay Fiord and National Park: We took another tour of this park and the naturalist was very competent in English and French as well. Learned about ice fishing and how the fiord waters freeze to almost 19” thick. The foliage was beautiful there also.
Charlottetown, PEI: Visited the Province House, location of the founding of the commonwealth of Canada in 1865. They had a limited budget for their chambers, so all the furniture and paneling was made from Canadian pine, and faux painted to look like African maple, and there were wooden pillars that looked like marble. The present government still meets in that building in a different room, though.
That excursion started me thinking what I could faux paint in my home to achieve a new look.
Sydney , Nova Scotia: They have a lovely docking place for the cruise ships. There is a huge fiddle outside. Very quaint, many churches and there was a lovely craft market – I purchased some birds eye maple, some small stuffed animals and a handmade knitted scarf with matrix yarn to wear with a plain sweater.
The tour guide warned us about a storm that was coming through Nova Scotia and by 6Pm that evening , many passengers were quite sick due to the excessive motion of the ship. It was too dark for us to see the waves. We ate a light dinner and went to bed.
Halifax< Nova Scotia: We took the excursion to Baddeck to see Alexander Graham Bell’s summerhouse. He was quite an interesting inventor. The foliage was beautiful.
Gloucester, Mass. : We took the excursion to Rockport. We think it was overpriced since we were told later that there was a free shuttle from the pier to Rockport and the guide did not even point out the red fishing shack that is known as “ Motif #1. I enjoyed Rockport. It was quite “ artsy” but affordable and Jerry enjoyed excellent clam chowder at Ellen’s Harbor side restaurant , next to the Visitor Center
Newport. Rhode Island: We visited two Vanderbilt mansions. They are quire impressive for summerhouses. Weather was gorgeous. There was a bit of a wait to enter the “Breakers”.
Food was very good in the dining room, The buffet food was quite good for lunch and breakfast. They could use some help with their soups- their idea o mushroom-barley is not what New Yorkers think of . Cabin steward was very helfpful and out of sight.
Entertainment was ok, We enjoyed the Phillipino crew show the best. The excursions are a little pricey, but what choice do you have if you want to stay with the cruise ship.
All in all , I would rate this cruise an “ 8” out of possible “ 10.” Definitely do this again at the same time of year.