My partner and I are going on the QM2 in October for a 5 day trip. The two ports are Halifax and Bar Harbor. Does it make sense to use the ship excursions? Find a private guide for either port? Rent a car and GPS? Have not been to either place so just starting to gather info.
As I recall there really aren't many private tour companies at these two places.
When I was there last year with Royal Caribbean we went to the tour desk at the pier and got the hop-on-hop-off tour bus and I think we paid either the same or more than if we'd bought it on the ship. This was a nice way to see Halifax.
Bar Harbor is a small town. The ship has to anchor there. We took the ship's tour to Acadia National Park and then had a leisurely lobster lunch in town. I don't think any of the major rental car agencies have a presence in town, and the little airport is not close.
I've been to each a few times and agree with Dave's comments. I highly advise against renting a car either place, as the main sites (other than Acadia National Park) are easy to do on foot or by HOHO bus, if it's still running in October, and parking is scarce.
If you decide to go to Peggy's Cove out of Halifax, I recommend a ship's tour due to the distance.
I can't speak to Halifax as I've not been yet. We leave on September 18 on Princess and I plan to take one of their shore excursions there. I have however visited Bar Harbor several times independently. You will be tendered in and will arrive right in town. Lots of shopping and nice restaurants. From the main square, only a couple of blocks from where you will arrive, you will find the Island Explorer buses. They run frequently, exactly on time, and are the most efficient and free way to see Acadia National Park. They are hop on/hop off. Most people particularly like to see Thunder Hole and Cadillac Mountain but visiting Southwest Harbor is nice too.
BritChris - Thank you for the info about Bar Harbor. Do you know if the free bus also takes you to the top of Cadillac Mountain? Should I pay extra and join a tour? I just want to make the best out of the visit to Acadia national park. Thanks.
Halifax: We walked according to maps we found on line We came into port: Pier 21 (1215 Marginal Road) Ask people when you get off the ship topoint you in the way of the Halifax Public Victorian Gardens Park located on So. Park St you will also pass a very old cemetary on your way there. Then take South Park ST to Spring Garden RD to see St. Mary's Basilica and Old Burial Grounds on Barrington ST
We also walked to the Halifazx Citadel to tour the fort if you go online you can see how much it costs ($10about) Allow 2 hrs hear make sure you go when they do the cannons. The Old Clock Tower across the way tolls at noon. We also walked to St Paul's Church and then to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic ($10) on Lower Water St. Have fun!
HappyColor - I've written this now three times. Perhaps the third time is a charm and I can actually post it.
Here is the link for the Island Explorer buses http://www.exploreacadia.com/routefinder.htm. You should be able to get on and off at Cadillac Mountain. The loop road is best. Plan on stopping at Sand Beach, Cadillac Mountain and Thunder Hole. Some folks also like Jordan Pond where there is a nice restaurant with tea and popovers and lunch.
At the town square where you pick up the buses you will find attendants to help and advise you. Also an information center which I believe is run by the National Park Service. Do note the dates when the bus service closes down for winter. Hope you enjoy your time there.
PRETTY PLACE! Where you tender in is at the bottom of the hill and straight up is the main "toursty" road...you can't miss it! No car rental here either. Walk up Amin ST for 5 min. you'll come to Bar Harbor Village Green. A green open field on your left. You will see the busses. www.exploreacadia.com will tel you all of your choices or routes. We walked ver and got on a bus. No one asked us for tickets...later I found out there was a building a ways over to the right. Oh well. Buses depart every 30 min. the buses are called Island Explorer. We departed 9:05 on Bus #3 to Sand Beach,We did not get off though but could have gone to Sieur de Monts Spring & Thunderhole or you can take Bus Route #5 Jordon Pond (this is what we ended up doing) www.jordonpond.com their website says bus passengers get 10% off. We ate at this restaurant the largest popovers I've ever seen. We saw our first apple trees ever! Anyway check out their websites. All buses will return you back to the touristy part of Main Street!
BritChris & Cousins - Thank you so, so much for the detailed information!! You both posted at the same time....only one minute apart. How funny. With your helpful tips, I am sure we'll enjoy the trip to Bar Harbor. Thanks again.