2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2019
Let me start by saying that the actual ship is very nice and we had a nice trip. PROS: The cruise directors, Andrew & Andy, were really fun. The entertainment was very good. We enjoyed the various trivia games, there was a great ... Read More
Let me start by saying that the actual ship is very nice and we had a nice trip. PROS: The cruise directors, Andrew & Andy, were really fun. The entertainment was very good. We enjoyed the various trivia games, there was a great magician, awesome juggler, and very interesting high-tech lights\video\music act. The food was great in both formal dining room and buffet. They have great video screen at the pool that plays recent movies (that you can also view later in your cabin). There are fun "touch screens" on every floor where you can locate the people you are travelling with, see deck plans, the entertainment schedule, AND there is fun "explorer puzzle game" for the kids to play. There are 3 regular sized pools (one is private one for adults only near the spa), and one very small "kid's area pool", so there are different options. I think they make good use of the space and boat doesn't feel too large (or too small). Also, very "non pressure" from the staff. I've been on some cruises where they are always trying to sell you things, but this ship wasn't like that. Stops on our cruise were awesome. In particular I loved Quebec City, & Prince Edward Island. Halifax is nice, but a bit more of a bustling city. Sidney Nova Scotia is cute town but a "young port" so tour options (e.g. if want to go to the Alexander Graham Bell museum) are limited if you don't book ahead. You can't even really even find a taxi. - - - CONS: There are limited shore excursions and most of the good ones they sold out months before the cruise. (Not sure why they can't see the high demand and arrange for additional tours). It ended working out OK for us though because we found that for most ports you can find alternative tours outside of the port for cheaper than Princess charges. The EXCEPTION though is the port of Sydney, Nova Scotia. If you don't book something ahead won't be able to find trips on short. The "app" (where you can order drinks and see entertainment schedule seems to be a bit of a work in progress (didn't work very well for me). I could see upcoming events schedule but never could do anything else with it. There was mystery "high seas heist" ongoing game that we participated in, which was semi-fun but sloppily run and slightly confusing. There is "kids club" for area but for some reason it is closed from Noon-to-2PM so it didn't work out well for my wife and I when we wanted to do some of the things like the art auction on the boat, or trivia. Also, the staff in the area are not that friendly, and per my kids (so take with grain of salt) they had strictly regimented task for them to follow. (e.g. they couldn't just draw, read, play video games or Foosball when there was an activity like "t-shirt painting" going on. You have to do what group is doing while in kids club, at least if you are in the 7-to-11 year old section). Perhaps not the cruise line's fault but found the "exit port" in Brooklyn NY to be run horribly. A lot of confusion, and they routed people into different lines... allowed people to cut in the lines... and ultimately you could just walk out of the port if you wanted to (there was no security check or anything) so all the confusion wasn't really necessary if they were better organized. Lastly, bad ratings to our cabin (E514), mostly because it is located directly above the lounge where loud music is played most nights. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2019
My family choose this cruise because it was my parents wedding anniversary and the whole family wanted to explore an area we had never been. We were all left pretty disappointed with the entire experience. Some of the destinations were ... Read More
My family choose this cruise because it was my parents wedding anniversary and the whole family wanted to explore an area we had never been. We were all left pretty disappointed with the entire experience. Some of the destinations were better than others (good-Quebec City, Portland, Halifax....not so good-Saguenay and one was awful - Sydney, NS) but my primary criticism was largely with the ship and their inability to make the experience more kid-friendly. This ship has a recently renovated kid splash area which seemed very nice from the photos. However, on our initial tour of the ship I noticed that there were some major design flaws, principaly the splash area was all painted concrete, The area is intended for kids to move around to different stations but there is no traction at all on the concrete and the coating of paint made it especially slippery. My 3yr old and 5 yr old both slipped twice within the first 3 minutes of using it and lost interest shortly thereafter. Throughout the cruise I never saw more than 1-2 children in the area at a time and most of the time it was completely vacant. My primary criticism was with the family-friendly pools. This cruise was through an area of Canada-New England where the temperatures ranged from 55 degrees at night to 75 degrees during the day. While the pools were heated the first day, Princess absolutely refused to heat the pools following that first day and the deck attendants always had a different story as to why. Initially we were told they couldn't be heated, then we were told the adult-only pools were the only ones heated, and then that they didn't feel it was necessary. The water temperature in my estimation was almost always in the mid 60's, too cold for my 3 yr old and cold enough that my 5 yr old would only go in sparingly. In general, the pools were not used often by other guests and the temperature was a frequent complaint we had heard throughout the ship. With many of the excursions not particularly kid-friendly and the size of the room, the size you would expect on a cruise, this really inhibited our ability to entertain the kids during the day. We did utilize the kid's activity programs at night and I will commend Princess and their staff for the Discovery Camps. The staff was great and their 7-10pm evening activities were very well organized Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2018
Looking for a way to see parts of Canada we had not seen and perhaps to get a glimpse of color, we chose the last cruise of the season from Quebec to Ft. Lauderdale. Given the dates, we were not surprised that the weather caused us to ... Read More
Looking for a way to see parts of Canada we had not seen and perhaps to get a glimpse of color, we chose the last cruise of the season from Quebec to Ft. Lauderdale. Given the dates, we were not surprised that the weather caused us to miss two ports of call. We made up for it by relaxing on board...the second reason we chose the cruise. The Royal Princess is the largest calss in the fleet, and it WAS big and carried a lot of people. Still, we had quiet in our cabin and the luxury to mingle with people if we wanted. Our balcony cabin was small but fine for two of us. Our steward went out of his way to clean it around our schedule, not his. The food was excellent, and we enjoyed anytime dining with its opportunity to meet other people at dinner. The wait staff there and in the buffet areas were ESPECIALLY good and very helpful. My wife was in a wheelchair for the cruise, and the staff watched out for her and was there to help when we needed it. Kuos too the staff at the Lotus Spa. I had an excellent Massuse (I can't spell!), and my wife received excellent care from the accupunturist. The front desk staff worked magic with bookings and were always cheerful, even when obviously tired at the end of long days. We missed our frist excursion by oversleeping; we had had a 14 hour day getting to Quebec NOTE: if you are traveling a long way, arrive a day before the cruise!!!! The photo excusion I took to at St. John was excellent, providing some good opportunities for photos and providing a tantalizing glimpse of the city as well. Instead of excusions in Halifax, I walked to the Maritime Museum, managing to find a small gallery on the way and getting an idea of the architecture as well. My only personal complaint was that we spent way too much time in Boston and not nearly enough time in New York City. I knew Boston, but I had had destinations in mind for New York. Because the ship docked in Brooklyn, I did not have enough time to visit Manhattan locations such as athe Museum of Modern Art..an excursion that was mysteriously dropped between my inital booking and getting on baord. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2018
This was our second Norwegian cruise and our first "cold-water" cruise. It was also our first experience cruising in a suite. To start, as others have pointed out, the ship was wonderfully refurbished although the layout ... Read More
This was our second Norwegian cruise and our first "cold-water" cruise. It was also our first experience cruising in a suite. To start, as others have pointed out, the ship was wonderfully refurbished although the layout remains quirky. That said, by day 2 it was easy to figure out where everything was and the best way to get their. Next the staff, start to finish, outstanding. El, Nathaniel, Layla at Gatsby's simply made our cruise with their tremendous service and warm greetings. Also, the guitar player, Rob Ondras as a consumate performer who had a wide range of songs. We ate at all of the specialty restaurants and had good to great food. We ate at two of the main dining rooms, Aqua and Venetian and enjoyed both meals. Venetian is very large so we preferred Aqua for a more intimate experience. Now for the "suite-life". This completely changes the dynamics of cruising. We were in cabin 12030 what included a balcony and floor to ceiling windows. We had a couch and two chairs so if we wanted to read, relax, and watch the water go by, we had a great view at all times. Next our concierge, Roel, was great. At check-in, he whisked us onto the ship and brought us to Cagney's for lunch. As the Dawn does not have a Haven, suite passengers have Cagney's or Moderno's for lunch and breakfast. These amenities and priority boarding and disembarking, plus the little treats left every night, makes for an elevated experience. Finally , we enjoyed each port and each port was unique. Quebec is a charming, old world city with plenty to see and do. Sydney was a quite little stop with a great Irish pub and a charming local tour. Halifax has Peggy's Cover which is not to be missed, and Bar Harbour included a great local lunch and then a gentle hike around Acadia National Park. In summary, bundle up, get in the spirit, and you will love this ship and ports. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2018
Although the weather was not the best, this cruise offered a very interesting and fun itinerary including Canadian, New England and, finally, Florida ports. They did a good job of both embarkation and disembarkation, especially considering ... Read More
Although the weather was not the best, this cruise offered a very interesting and fun itinerary including Canadian, New England and, finally, Florida ports. They did a good job of both embarkation and disembarkation, especially considering the large number of passengers boarding at the small terminal in Quebec City. The ship is in good shape, and qualifies as not too big and not too small. The food and service in the Main Dining Room is the best we’ve had in years—waiters were attentive always and actually did some of the “old fashioned” things like pull out the lady’s chair and spread your cloth napkin! The food and service in the buffet Windjammer also was good, both at lunch and breakfast, with many food choices. There were some very good, original performers in the Lyric Theatre on several nights—unfortunately, the performance times kept changing from night to night and we missed some shows because showtime cut into dinner time. The Schooner Lounge is a good place for the usual sing-along music, and was packed every night. But the ship could definitely upgrade the live music in the lounges, and increase the amount of time the singers and musicians play. Several of the lounges also need improved drink service. Also, there were no enrichment talks related to the interesting ports we visited—we especially missed this since the poor weather precluded everyone from spending very much time on the outside deck so there was little to do. Lastly, our cabin was very good (spacious balcony)—attendants kept everything tip top. Only complaint is that RCCL no longer provides bathrobes. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2018
From the time we landed in Quebec to the time we took off from New York, this became the anniversary cruise I had only hoped for. The cabin was roomy and the bathroom was bigger than expected. And on our anniversary we had a card, ... Read More
From the time we landed in Quebec to the time we took off from New York, this became the anniversary cruise I had only hoped for. The cabin was roomy and the bathroom was bigger than expected. And on our anniversary we had a card, ballons , sign and a complimentary dinner. The Crown Grill is the top of the line for a steak and the sides were just as good. But as wonderful as the Crown Grill is my favorite restaurant on board is Sabatini's. We went twice, had our anniversary dinner there. Another surprise was the desserts. I fell in love with the coconut cream pie and key lime pie and discovereded they were suger free. In fact all the sugar free desserts are the same quality as the regular desserts. And just as good. Employees on the ship couldn't have been nicer whether you saw them while they were working or you saw them in port. Many of them would remember you and say hello and ask how your day is going. The ports were exactly as expected, with a few being better than expected. We will be going back to Quebec and the excursions were well worth the money and in fact, because we missed a few of the ship's excursions we booked private which we thought would be better and were disappointed. Entertainment was a pleasure to see and a great time to relax and meet other people. Dancing and music made us feel young again, and you were spoiled for choice in picking a place to listen to music. And there was always something going on. Trivia was the best. No matter what Princess cruise we take we will be staying on the Lido deck, and hopefully in our same cabin L202 Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
I chose this cruise mainly because I wanted to view the fall leaves and also end in Boston, where my son is now living. It was an opportunity to visit family as well as going to new places and learning a bit of history. I am not new to ... Read More
I chose this cruise mainly because I wanted to view the fall leaves and also end in Boston, where my son is now living. It was an opportunity to visit family as well as going to new places and learning a bit of history. I am not new to cruising, but I will say I have not had these experiences on any other cruises I have taken. Norwegian Customer service staff is not helpful. My first tip off should have been when I called Norwegian's customer service before the cruise. I was double checking what the travel agent had told me. I had a late flight into Quebec and I was concerned with getting on board the ship if I missed the first day's last boarding time, which I had been told was 11 PM. The travel agent told me if I did miss this time, I could board the next morning after 9 AM, since the ship would not sail until after 5 PM. The Norwegian agent told me that I should have called them directly because I really did need to get on board the ship that first day and my travel agent should have told me that. I was so appalled that I called back and spoke with another Norwegian agent who said that my travel agent was correct and that I could board the following day in the event I was unable to make it there the first night. (I made it at 11:05 PM and got on the ship – yeah!) Once on board, you will have to figure out for yourself where to find things, what deck to take to disembark and the time to be back on the ship, etc. If you miss the one sentence in the announcement that tells you this, you are out of luck. They also do not respond to complaints. I did so in person and also wrote a complaint to them regarding my sleeping room and the noise. I was NEVER contacted by any customer service personnel. This is unacceptable. We were awakened every night by the cleaning crew in the restaurant that was directly above our room. This vacuum should have been used during the day when everyone was awake and the restaurant was closed. The Oceanview sleeping room was nice, the 1:00 AM wake up was not. Sydney is a stop that is not worth going to - there is nothing worth seeing, unless you want to take an hour-long trip (one way) and pay far too much money to see Alexander Graham Bell's house. We did not see many leaves turning color and we had assumed we would see them as the ship went along. Not so. You mainly see water only. No land. We did take a few hop off and on tours and did see a few trees with leaves changing color. If you think a tour will be cancelled due to weather, think again! If it is raining cats and dogs and you can't see anything out of your window, you will go anyway so be wary of timing and weather. You also have to go through what they call "customs" on the ship when you enter US water. Basically, everyone on the ship has to walk in a line and show your passport. This was a pretty big fiasco with the ship blocking most elevators to only go to the 7th floor where this was going to be held. We had people in wheel chairs and scooters trying to get to the 12th floor for breakfast. So - they had to go to the 7th floor, and get off, then wait in the very long lines to get back on to go to the 12th floor. It personally took me 40 minutes to get from the 5th floor to the 12th floor (and I walked up the stairs to the 7th floor) for my morning coffee. UGH! I will give credit to them for good food, great restaurant service, and good entertainment. If you stay somewhere besides the 5th floor, it might be something you will enjoy. If you want to view leaves, take a bus tour. Best Wishes! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2018
I think this must be my second review even though we are world cruisers, for years, and have sailed many different cruise lines. We have a lot of experience with all aspects of a cruise. I have cruised Disney once before to the Bahamas. ... Read More
I think this must be my second review even though we are world cruisers, for years, and have sailed many different cruise lines. We have a lot of experience with all aspects of a cruise. I have cruised Disney once before to the Bahamas. My perspective is of an adult, and safety for the children. Arriving a day before the cruise at Quebec City, we found it quaint. (We had been there once before on an excursion with another cruise line). Our embarkation seemed to have gone smoothly, until i found that all my cruising info papers, med sheets, all the papers i bring with me were missing, and were lost somewhere between the port and the stateroom. I called the front desk, they didnt have them. Okay we can deal with that, there are always the originals to find on the computer. Although i didnt like my information out in public. The problem was they had no service to speak of and my husband after using his free 100 minutes, paid for 200 mins(I dont know why they dont go by Megabytes), and by the time he would get on, it had "used" up all the time he had. You couldnt sign off, and for some reason their antiquated system kept you on, if you didnt "officially" sign off. Luckily we were in a concierge room, (which we paid a lot more for) and our concierge had printed out our entire itinerary, and was excellent. All three concierge "cast members" seemed seasoned, and Disney schooled. We especially liked Andy. A major problem occured when we tried to sleep the first night. Our "special" concierge room was under the Cabana's outside buffet. It was oddly configured, possibly 2 staterooms put together to make a large suite with 2 full bathrooms, and a tiny closet. There was lots of draw space. BIG PROBLEM....I didnt sleep for the 1st night because there seemed to be no sound insulation above the master bedroom, and the outside buffet. Until late, the first night all we heard were shoes thumping and chairs screeching. My husband and I missed the first excursion, the following day....we were exhausted. By the way the room number was 8602. DO NOT CHOOSE THIS ROOM, if you want to sleep. This is the basis of any trip, not feeling like your dragging and are sleep deprived. After the first night i called the concierge to ask them what they could do. They said they couldnt control the people eating in the cabana. I had gone up to the cabana and evaluated the situation and found that if the could rope of or take away 2 tables right above us, that may help the situation. I gave each person working there including the "officer" $20.00 each and ask them to please remove or rope off the tables. They said they couldnt promise to do this. Second night, same thing. I called the concierge, who happily came to my door(2 females) and in a disney manor jumping and smiling told me how great i looked. After that went on for a while i asked them to come upstairs to see what i was talking about. The Cabana was roped off for that one night. After that i gave up. it was hit or miss whether i slept or not. On to excursions. They were not great, and somewhat boring. I spent most of this review on the stateroom, so i am not going to recap them, except to say, there was one dangerous part of an excursion where we asked if we wanted to walk over a dilapidated walking bridge. I thought disney wouldnt allow this if it was dangerous, so we embarked. The bridge was held together at certain parts with what seemed to be rotten fiber board. We had to tell children and others to watch and we turned around and got off the bridge. This was in Baie-Comeau. The only other bad experience with excursions, was when we returned to the ship and were delightfully welcomed with hot chocolate. It was a chilly day. The drink was so hot the first sip i took, i immediately had to spit out because it was scalding the inside of my mouth, and i wasnt about to swallow it. I angrily told the servers, who just looked at me, that they need to test the temperature on this, before serving it. The burn stayed with me until after NY, but under the circumstances of all else, it wasnt something continuously happening so I protested no further to the servers, who i am not sure understood English anyway. I should note also that while we on an excursion, our stateroom door was left propped open all day, and the Executive Hoosekeeper, mortified by this was so anxious to apologize(which i appreciated greatly). This only happened once. Good stuff: The entertainment during dinner, where your waiting service followed you to each venue, was excellent! Best part of the cruise. Manuel, was excellent, and gave service with a smile. Cant say enough about the wait service. He even did magic Palo, their upscale italian restaurant, had wonderful food, and our waiter, was a consummate disney actor who made the experience almost real. His name was Roberto, excellent. We had children of 4 different ages. I think they all enjoyed their clubs and especially their special dress ups, princess gathering, Royal Teas.....we scheduled them for every ago approrriate activity you could do on the ship. This is why we went on the cruise, for the children. So this is the thing....We do family cruises every few years, with up to 47 people. I am torn because i have reserved 12 rooms for a family cruise next December, to the Bahamas, and this cruise is in no way an adult cruise. It 99.9% for children, or adults who have younger children, or adults who would prefer to be a child. I am hoping i made the right decision. I am hoping the more than one bad experience i had on this cruise will not happen again. The last Bahama cruise i went on with Disney seemed awesome compared to what happened on this one Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
Took this cruise to see what was left of the Fall Colors along the Eastern seaboard plus the Canadian ports which were new to us. Enjoyed Quebec City even in the rain and wind. Ship was docked right at Old Town. Other ports were fine. ... Read More
Took this cruise to see what was left of the Fall Colors along the Eastern seaboard plus the Canadian ports which were new to us. Enjoyed Quebec City even in the rain and wind. Ship was docked right at Old Town. Other ports were fine. We missed St. Johns, Newfoundland because of very bad weather. That's just one of the chances one takes while cruising. Enjoyed Boston and NY, NY. The ship, itself, is badly in need of renovation. On the outside, it's rusty and beat-up. Inside, there were lots of problems starting the minute we walked into our mini-suite. The smell of sewage was obvious and the room steward told us to be sure to run the water in the bathroom faucet before we used it as the water had debris in it. That was obvious when you opened the toilet and saw all the black particles that had accumulated. The sewage smell emanated from the toilet and even the closed lid did not keep it out. The bed center looked like a sink hole. It was many cruises and perhaps years since it should have been trashed. I tried it the first night and didn't sleep. Talking to our steward the next morning he said he'd turn it over and put a board under it. That worked for one night and then I never slept well again. Even tried the couch but it was no better. Food was OK but nothing special and service was sloooooow. Horizon Court food was cold and the variety was limited. And then the Norovirus hit. It was all over the ship and the trip wasn't quite the same after it became prevalent. Two at our table got it and were "isolated" in their cabins for one to three days. As we disembarked some poor fellow began puking right in the middle of the floor of the Wheelhouse Lounge which was our assembly point. Not a good ending but an exclamation point on the problem. We are elite with Princess and have two additional cruises already booked with them--a BtoB to Europe and cruise around the British Isles plus a 60 day Pacific Circle. Our last ten cruises have been on Princess. We did not experience anything like this on our last cruise and hope this is not a trend. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2017
We had never been to Canada. We live in Florida so this longer cruise was perfect, we only had to fly one way. We love to travel on Holland America Lines, so the fact that Zuiderdam was due for an interior face lift did not bother us. We ... Read More
We had never been to Canada. We live in Florida so this longer cruise was perfect, we only had to fly one way. We love to travel on Holland America Lines, so the fact that Zuiderdam was due for an interior face lift did not bother us. We know and love their standards, so could put up with a few chips and rips. The Crew was wonderful, always helpful & Roxan in the Ocean Bar is the Best Waiter on board. the Food was a little odd by the second week. (an awful lot of fish, for someone who does not eat fin fish.) The food we ordered was good & we could order a baked potato if the sides did not appeal. I must say that the entertainment on board was a little disappointing, where did all the small bands and other singers & guitar players, that used to be in the small bars, Crows Nest, Atrium & Dining Room go? We miss being able to order afternoon drinks & listen to a Duo or single musician entertain us. The music seems to be at night & if that band is needed for the main show, nothing!!! Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
We were excited to cruise on the Zuiderdam again, this time for the Canada/New England Cruise. We came in to Quebec a few days early to enjoy the city and wish we had a few more days - Quebec City was delightful and autumn is a great ... Read More
We were excited to cruise on the Zuiderdam again, this time for the Canada/New England Cruise. We came in to Quebec a few days early to enjoy the city and wish we had a few more days - Quebec City was delightful and autumn is a great time of the year to explore it. On the day we left port we got the ship early only to be meet with long lines for the taxi to get in, then long lines and confusion inside. We were told to sit one place to wait, then other people who came in long after us were taken on first. Not a problem of the cruise line, but rather the people in the port building. Once we got past the people from the port and to the HAL people things went smoothly. The line then went quickly and we were on the ship and in our stateroom. Our luggage wasn't there yet, but our room was ready and we went to enjoy lunch and when we got back the luggage was there. Our cabin was on Deck 7 and was wonderful, Our room stewards were top notch and we never wanted for anything. Our dining stewards were both excellent and very attentive. Entertainment was OK - not the best I've seen on a cruise, but definitely not the worse I've seen. One of the problems we encountered was a weather problem and we missed two ports because of it. Despite two + days of high winds (over 90 mph) and high waves, I never felt threatened or that we were in danger. One night it was so rough, things came out of our closet and things crashed off the shelves (our fault for not putting them away knowing the seas were rough). The other problem was our last night. It was almost time to leave Port Canaveral - we were enjoying dinner and the ship lost power. After less than an hour the power was back on. During this time, dinner service continued and there was no disruption there. But it did leave the ship with navigation problems and we couldn't leave port. After about 2 hours the problem was fixed and off we went. But then early in the morning we were delayed again, this time by a failure of one of the diesel engines. We did get to Ft. Lauderdale in time to make our flight connections, etc. The thing that impressed me thru all of these problems was the staff and crew - they all continued to be pleasant and helpful to us. Was I disappointed to miss two great ports? Certainly, but all in all it was a good cruise. Would I go on Holland America again? Of course. Would I go on the Zuiderdam again? - I'd have to think about it. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
W have cruised extensively on 4 continents and know the difficulties of comparing what can be very different experiences.This little one ship ship cruise line attempts to step back in time a little ind delivered everything as promised, ... Read More
W have cruised extensively on 4 continents and know the difficulties of comparing what can be very different experiences.This little one ship ship cruise line attempts to step back in time a little ind delivered everything as promised, Because of its small size and the route through some very busy waterways there is a real sense of identification with the St..Lawrence river and it's history. The ship is over 30 years old but appears to be in good shape thanks to ongoing maintenance and the fact it operates only 4 months or so a year. Would suggest it is time to change some berth mattresses and renovate cabin windows as some are ddifficult to open. Our guest service crew were delightful; young, energetic with a nice mix of formality and casualness .The officers were approachable and well informed. Sailing on the Canadian Empress iis really a unique experience..Our party of 6 had a great time! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
All was very good. Having said that I still have some suggestions for improvement. Internet "service" in the stateroom was a bad joke. Had to move the computer around to find access. The food overall was good but the ... Read More
All was very good. Having said that I still have some suggestions for improvement. Internet "service" in the stateroom was a bad joke. Had to move the computer around to find access. The food overall was good but the desserts, especially cakes were not very good. invariably dry. The staff was very good. Never found anyone that I could complain about. Did I say that the internet was veeeery slow. No lotion or hair conditioner is supplied so bring your own. Lotion would be helpful because the alcohol based hand cleaner (a necessity) dries the skin. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
My sister, niece and I were traveling together. We cruised from Quebec City to Boston on the Dawn. It was a lovely cruise, the food was very good (loved the Venetian Inn where the service was excellent); the entertainment was great, ... Read More
My sister, niece and I were traveling together. We cruised from Quebec City to Boston on the Dawn. It was a lovely cruise, the food was very good (loved the Venetian Inn where the service was excellent); the entertainment was great, especially the last night. Most of the shore tours were good. We liked some better than others. Our disembarkation and immigration went very smoothly because of our concierge, Karabi. The weather cooperated and was mostly warm and sunny. The only problem we had was with the billing, but hopefully, that will be taken care of soon. Overall, it was a wonderful time and I have a lot of pictures to prove it! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
Let me start by saying we choose our cruises based on the itinerary, not the cruise line or ship. We have sailed Carnival, RCI, Norwegian, Princess and one cruise on HAL previously (where I broke a tooth on pasta). While the previous ... Read More
Let me start by saying we choose our cruises based on the itinerary, not the cruise line or ship. We have sailed Carnival, RCI, Norwegian, Princess and one cruise on HAL previously (where I broke a tooth on pasta). While the previous HAL cruise was one of our worst, we liked the itinerary and decided to give them another try. There were three of us, my husband and me, both in our mid 40s, and our 18 year old daughter. We were in an oceanview cabin. The ship itself is very dated. I felt like I was in an 80s flashback. As soon as I got on the first elevator I noticed paint scratched off the walls. The ship is definitely overdue for dry dock. It's also probably the smallest ship I've even been on. The rooms were actually quite large and provided ample storage, something the newer ships tend to lack. The bathroom was also quite large, but I was surprised at the height of the side of the tub. I do not have any mobility issues, but seeing as the majority of HAL clients are 60+, I could see that being an problem for some. We had considered one of the Lanai cabins on the lower verandah deck and were glad we did not go with that one. Those cabins have sliding glass doors that open directly onto the promenade where people walk around. While they have some sort of film on the glass that supposedly prevents people from seeing in, you still could see in if they had their lights on. Just something to keep in mind. Food on the ship left a lot to be desired. Menus were unappetizing (we chose not to eat in the main dining room 2 or 3 of the nights because of the menu) and dining hours were ridiculous. The main dining room did have lobster tails the second formal night which was nice. The buffet at dinner time closed at 8pm. And then it was only open for an hour (10:30 - 11:30) for a late night snack. We did like the grill at the pool where they had cooked to order burgers and hot dogs. The nacho/taco bar at the pool had weird items on it, but no taco meat. They did do a poutine bar for Canada day which was good. Room service was prompt and they did have a large menu for breakfast rather than the traditional continental breakfast. Entertainment - we only went to see the comedian, who was just OK. We heard the production shows and they sounded like typical cheesy production shows. There was no late night comedy show. The ship pretty much shuts down at 11:30. There is one bar with dancing (I believe the crows nest) that has something going on at 11:30, but everything else is quiet. We did spend a lot of time in the casino. The casino is small, but we never had a problem getting on one of the machines we like. The big plus was that the casino was almost entirely smoke free. They had just a few places where you could smoke, but we never really smelled it. Other cruiselines should follow this lead. One thing we did like was the fact that there was a DVD player in the room. You could rent movies from the guest services desk or call and have them delivered. Since there was not a lot to do on the ship, this was a very good thing. The shops on the ship are small and have limited inventory. I always get a Christmas ornament on each cruise ship (usually in the shape of the ship), but Maasdam didn't have any ornaments for sale (with the exception of the panama canal ornaments that were available for 75% off). On a positive note, the lack of inventory saved us a lot of money. The cruise departed Montreal on June 27, however we decided if we were going to Canada, we really wanted to see Canada. We flew into Ottawa on the 22nd, and spent two nights in Ottawa, two nights in Montreal, and then drove to Quebec City the day before the ship's departure. We wanted more than 8 hours in Quebec so we had made arrangements ahead of time to board in Quebec on the 28th. Smartest thing we could have done. We wound up having almost 2 full days in Quebec and got to stroll the streets at night. We had a rental car so we were able to drive out to Montmorency Falls on our own. The city was extremely walkable and we loved exploring on our own. We did attend the Changing of the Guard at The Citadelle, which was very entertaining. Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived at the port, went to the customer information desk, and gave our names. Within two minutes, we had a personal security escort onto the ship. We did have to carry our own luggage on, which was fine with us. It may have taken us 10 minutes to get through the security screening and get escorted to guest services for our ship card. The muster drill was also painless as it was just us and one other couple attending. Day 2 was a sea day and unfortunately very rainy. We did not get to really see much as we cruised the St Lawrence river. It was also a very boring and expensive day as we spent much of it in the Casino. Ship activities are obviously aimed at the 60+ crowd despite the fact that there were several families on board the ship. Day 3 - Charlottetown PEI - we booked a private tour through Tours By Locals and were able to see a great deal of the island at our own pace. After the tour we walked around downtown for a while before heading back to the ship. Day 4 - Sydney, NS - we booked a private tour through Don Blackwood tours. Unfortunately, there is really nothing but a giant fiddle to see in Sydney, so you do need a tour to get out of town. We did the Cabot Trail tour. Once we got to the picturesque part of the trail, the scenery was breathtaking. Unfortunately the drive there and back was 2 hours each way and our guide was not all that chatty. It made for a very long day. Day 5 - Halifax, NS - our second favorite port. We booked a private tour through Halifax Taxi Tours and were lucky enough to get Eric. He was great - very informative and got us to everywhere we wanted to go with time to spare at the end. My husband left his ship card in the cab and Eric brought it back to the security desk at the pier. Day 6 - Bar Harbor, ME - if I had it to do over again, we would have tried to disembark in Bar Harbor and stayed there for the weekend. Beautiful town and Acadia was awesome. We booked a private tour through At Your Service Taxi and Tours. Mary P was our guide and wonderful. Two things to note for anyone doing this cruise - 1) we discovered how to get to the bow of the boat during sail away and went there every day as we sailed out to sea. The scenery was beautiful and there was hardly anyone standing there. Go to the bow of the boat on Deck 6, through the glass doors and up the stairs. 2) (and I wish we had known this in our first port) you can bring cooked lobster back onto the ship to eat. Had we known that, we would have gotten lobster a lot sooner than Bar Harbor. When we did get it, we took it up to the Lido deck and had quite a feast. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2015
We have cruised on Princess and Carnival. Our cabin was smaller, the air conditioner didn't work well, and no refrigerator. We don't spend much in the cabin but still were disappointed. We had wonderful dining room and cabin ... Read More
We have cruised on Princess and Carnival. Our cabin was smaller, the air conditioner didn't work well, and no refrigerator. We don't spend much in the cabin but still were disappointed. We had wonderful dining room and cabin staff. Justin and Jeremy were very friendly but the rest were not friendly and made no effort. We tendered in Bar Harbor and had booked an excursion on our own. We were told that we would not be allowed on the first tenders they were only for those who had booked their excursions through the boat. I asked at both the front desk and excursion desk. Neither cared or apologized. We didn't follow directions and went early and luckily made our tour. The excursions are more expensive to book on the boat. Sydney was a boring port unless you paid for an excursion. We walk everyday but the deck was closed two days for the varnish to be applied. Not what we expected. The entertainment was good 3 of 7 days. Positives The food was very good and the embarkation and disembarkation was easy and quick. Not sure we would cruise with HAL again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2014
We stayed in Vieux Quebec three days before the cruise. Really looking forward to the ports of call: Sydney, Halifax, St. John's, St. Pierre and Saguenay. We enjoyed the port stops until we got to Saguenay. The problem was the tour we ... Read More
We stayed in Vieux Quebec three days before the cruise. Really looking forward to the ports of call: Sydney, Halifax, St. John's, St. Pierre and Saguenay. We enjoyed the port stops until we got to Saguenay. The problem was the tour we went on. Booked through RCCL it was a disappointment. I am mobility challenged. They took the group down the stairs from deck 4 to deck 1 and then we walked 1/2 a block to the bus. By the time I got there the only open seats were facing backwards or next to the toilet with no window. When we returned I made a complaint at the excursions desk and the young woman was rude to me. To me this is a blemish on RCCL. Embarkation was a breeze. Disembarkation was hard. We had to leave the ship by 9 am and our flight wasn't until 5 pm. Because we were in a GS we ate breakfast and lunch in a special section on deck 5. The two servers were extraordinary. Even though the ship was not at full capacity the Windjammer was a nightmare at lunch when the dining room was not open. The food was not always satisfactory. It's a good thing we go for the itinerary and not the food. We were not impressed by the cruise director, Topi. But we did enjoy the entertainment. The ship is lovely, clean and the crew is friendly.   Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
I highly recommend taking a Canadian cruise in October - the weather is refreshing and the colors fantastic! The Ruby Princess served us well. We enjoyed the spread of food and the Canadian ports. Disappointments were that it was too windy ... Read More
I highly recommend taking a Canadian cruise in October - the weather is refreshing and the colors fantastic! The Ruby Princess served us well. We enjoyed the spread of food and the Canadian ports. Disappointments were that it was too windy for the tender boats to get to either Saguenay or Gaspe (the ports we were most excited to see!) - and we felt that the opportunities offered by the ship for these two last-minute sea days were pretty lame (although hanging out in the Skywalkers Lounge while passing through the Saguenay fjord was a highlight). Princess advertises that it has some Education at Sea opportunities, but I hardly think you could call it that. The had a vegetable carving demonstration offered, but it was before they finished distributing the revised Princess Patter for the day so no one knew about it in time. It was hard to tell when they would advertise things like acupuncture, nutrition info sessions, gem information or digital camera classes if they weren't really just advertisements to get you to buy something. We avoided them since there were presented in either the spa or stores (the typical $$$ areas). On our one true sea day, they offered the behind-the-scenes tour of the stage and a cooking demonstration - and those were really wonderful. I don't understand why they don't have even one naturalist or historian on board to give information about the cultures or areas we are visiting. It just seemed that they were missing a segment of folks that were traveling to learn and not as interested in bingo and shopping and gambling (I do realize that they have these since they are money-makers - but if they want to make some money on the rest of us, try something different). Two other suggestions: We stayed at the Clarendon pre-cruise and it was fine, a bit crowded in the lobby, but it is so centrally located and with check-out time at noon, we loved its accessibility to everything. We flew into Quebec City on Delta - and with booking our tickets six months in advance, the fares from Philadelphia through NY were in the $60 range - can't beat that (although we did have to pay for our luggage). Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
We have five past cruises, two with Royal Caribbean (Serenade of the Seas), Island Princess Los Angeles to Hawaii return, Norwegian Dawn 10 day Caribbean return New York and Celebrity Century San Diego to Hawaii return. We decided to book ... Read More
We have five past cruises, two with Royal Caribbean (Serenade of the Seas), Island Princess Los Angeles to Hawaii return, Norwegian Dawn 10 day Caribbean return New York and Celebrity Century San Diego to Hawaii return. We decided to book a Junior suite and bring our 11 year old Grand daughter on her first ever cruise. We chose Legend of the Seas because of the itinerary which included stops at St Pierre and Miquelon and St John's Newfoundland. The direct flight on Air Canada from Toronto to Quebec City was uneventful. We stayed at the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac Hotel overnight before boarding. The newly renovated Chateau Frontenac is simply beautiful. We chose it because of the view from Dufferin Terrace (A huge boardwalk past the back of the hotel) overlooking the St Lawrence river and one of the Quebec City Cruise ship terminals. We had a beautiful river view room (Upcharge for River View) which was ready for our late check in. Service at this hotel was outstanding...but not cheap. We did have a late night snack at "Bistro Sam" (In the hotel) and two clubhouse sandwiches and a child's portion of spaghetti with coffee (No alcohol) cost us over $80.00. Next mornings breakfast was at Starbucks on the lower level at the back end of the hotel. The morning of departure we checked out at noon, took a taxi to the terminal and were on board before our rooms were ready at 1 pm. Embarkation was the best we have experienced. Legend of the Seas is a small to medium sized vessel that reminds me of Serenade of the Seas but slightly smaller. The ship is well kept, clean and has all of the usual bars, a rock climbing wall, a nine hole mini golf and a Theater screen on the pool deck. There is a "Solarium" area where the pool is covered. This area is said to be for adults only. However our 11 year old Grand daughter was accepted here without question. The theater, the Romeo and Juliette Dining room and all of the bars are beautiful and well kept. The Casino is the smoking area and smells. Like other cruise ship casinos, it is a place to go only if you have more money than you need and are bored silly. The Centrum has glass elevators and extends up to deck nine. It has been built to accommodate a Cirque type arial act that takes place twice during the cruise. There were the usual seminars, bingo, dance lessons , art auctions and on and on. Service on this ship was excellent in all respects. Everyone was helpful, happy and did their Jobs well. The visibility of uniformed "Security" staff was nice to see especially with the things going on in the world these days. The cabin was a junior suite and worth the extra money. Benefits were not the same as a gold card suite guest. But we did get two plush robes, a great cabin with exceptional service and did not get charged the inflated gratuities associated with full suite travel. It was nice to see a different towel creature in the room each night after turn down. For more detail see my comments under deck plans / cabin review. The Cruise director and his staff were ok. The good thing is that with many French speaking quests from Quebec they were able to provide bilingual service at all shows and functions. Photographers were not as intrusive as some I have experienced. I do want to warn folks that the "Cruise in Review" CD for this cruise seemed like 90% stock footage with only a small amount of material from our actual cruise. Dining was for the most part a pleasure on this ship. We tried the Windjammer Buffet twice. Both times it was crowded with limited seating. The food there was ok but not great. The Park Café in the Solarium served nice food but limited selection. We ate most meals in the beautiful Romeo and Juliette Dining Room. Our request for a table for three was met. This dining room has floor to ceiling Windows the full length of the room and is just a pleasure to be in. Our waiter (Alfred R) his assistant and supervisors were all friendly helpful cheery and pleasant. The service was as good as the food and the food was EXCELLENT! Portions were sensible, lots of choices, meat cooked perfectly and most dishes were served with gourmet type presentation. Those who wanted larger portions simply ordered two. I am on a special diet and have some allergies, and my grand daughter is lactose intolerant. Alfred was very careful to let us know if we were ordering something that might conflict with our medical situations. They even served real maritime Lobster Tails in the main dining room one night. We did not try Chops or Izumi as with the quality of food in the main dining room I could not see how they could be any better. Our Grand daughter wanted to try Adventure Ocean (The kids program) After the first visit she asked to go again several times...So I have to believe that it was good. It was definitely secure and well run. Entertainment in the main theater was good. No major headliners, but all acts were very entertaining. The theater itself is beautiful with very comfortable seating. It was also nice that the waiters serving drinks were available, but not pushing to sell alcohol. The Ariel act in the Centrum was very entertaining but also very short. Because of bad weather we were unable to dock at one port and therefore had one extra day at sea. The Captain recorded a TV spot on which he showed us the nautical charts for the port and with a scale model of the ship illustrated why he had to cancel the port due to high winds. I have never had any Captain do this before. All ports were interesting and worth visiting. There were no Shore tours for St Pierre and Miquelon. However when we got off the ship, expecting to have to walk 1 km to town, we discovered that the tourism group at St Pierre had provided shuttle bus service back and for the to town for $5.00 each way. This was a nice visit to a quaint French Island in the St Lawrence River and was very interesting. Disembarkation was efficient and quick with no one telling you to get out of your cabin and sit in a lounge. It was the best we have experienced. We arrived at The Fairmont Chateau Frontenac at 11 am and our room (Promised for early check in) was ready for us. This time we ate at Subway three blocks away. a $35.00 cab ride to the airport, a direct flight home and the adventure was over for this time. Summary; A great cruise, not the greatest weather, a beautiful ship with an excellent crew made this a wonderful vacation.   Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
Decided to go on legend on seas because we heard that royal Caribbean cruises were far superior than other cruise lines. We also picked the fall cruise in Canada because it went to St Pierre Micqfuelon My husband works in Quebec and ... Read More
Decided to go on legend on seas because we heard that royal Caribbean cruises were far superior than other cruise lines. We also picked the fall cruise in Canada because it went to St Pierre Micqfuelon My husband works in Quebec and watches the cruise ships sail away and thought it would be good to try before he retired. My husband flew to Quebec and I took the Via Train. It took 3 trains. It was a long day but free wifi and a place to read all day is good for me. We enjoyed Thurs night with dinner and a carriage ride through the plains of Abraham. Because it was before Halloween everywhere was decorated with pumpkins and fall decor. We stayed at the Delta. It was a short taxi ride from the train station and to the port. On Friday Oct 24 we left the hotel at 1030 and by 11 we were on the solarium having lunch. This was by far the best boarding we have ever had. Very fast. By 1:00 we were in our cabin and sitting on the balcony having my latte watching everyone board. We had early dining at 5:30. Great people at our table and our wait staff was excellent. Shout out to Sal and Hussein. Food we did not like on this ship. Everyone told us rc was cutting back and not to judge rc on this ship because it was old. But aren't standards standards? Also disappointed with the food at night at park Cafe. Pizza with very little cheese and leftovers from dinner. This ship does not have late night snack food. Carnival still wins for Entertainment was awful!. The centrum was used a lot which was nice but if you wanted to see anything you had to be there early. It would be nice if they had more seats around that area. The last aerial show was the best. They also did the best production show on the last night. The juggler,ventroliquist and Elton entertainer were also good. This ship had two black out night entertainment. This means for main show they showed movies. They did not even have popcorn! East coast In Canada in a Oct is cool and rainy. Not many people took advantage of the outside movies on the big screen. The screen itself was broken and the night we sat outside the volume was low. Most of the time they showed advertisements for rc cruises to the south. It would have been nice to see movies all day while sitting in hot tub. In summary would I chose royal caribean over other cruise lines, probably not. Are they going somewhere I want to go for a good price then I would give them a second chance. Crew however was the best I've seen. This does not include activities manager topi. Why do we always get them before the end of a contract? He was horrible on the morning show and did not give good information. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2013
While my wife and are relatively new to the cruise world (7 cruises) but it doesn't take a brain surgeon's expertise to know when a cruise is much less than it should be. If you like hard working, pleasant crew members the EotS ... Read More
While my wife and are relatively new to the cruise world (7 cruises) but it doesn't take a brain surgeon's expertise to know when a cruise is much less than it should be. If you like hard working, pleasant crew members the EotS is the ship for you. If you like organized, smooth embarkation and debarkation the EotS is for you. If you like great public areas that are interesting, well maintained and accommodating the EotS is for you. If you think country club casual clothes for dinner should include 1 1/2" wide suspenders over an "Old Guys Rule" T shirt and 40"+ jeans the EotS is the ship for you. If your idea of formal night is a polo shirt and some wash and wear khakis the EotS is for you. If you like wonderful dinner menus that describe a meal that you will never get the EotS is for you. If you like room carpeting that has coffee stains from the last decade the EotS is for you. If your idea of bathroom toiletries is a bar of soap and one of those plastic push button, all purpose lotions in the shower the EotS is for you. If you like to mix with fellow passengers who equate quantity of food with quality the EotS is for you. While we booked this trip on a last minute whim the fact remains that all of the above would be in place whether we were on the ship or not. The clear message is that for a few hundred dollars more you can get a cruise that will meet all of your expectations and more. I cannot recommend the RCI Explorer of the Seas to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
Holland America Line Veendam Canada/New England Cruise 5 July - 13 July 2013 Cast: Me (Eve aka Momma, 43) and Amina (DD, 16) Seth (hubby) and Rhys (son) were taking a Boy Scout Northern Tier canoe expedition for 2 weeks and ... Read More
Holland America Line Veendam Canada/New England Cruise 5 July - 13 July 2013 Cast: Me (Eve aka Momma, 43) and Amina (DD, 16) Seth (hubby) and Rhys (son) were taking a Boy Scout Northern Tier canoe expedition for 2 weeks and were not going to accompany us on this trip - it was our first "Girls Only" trip. This report along with pictures are located on my blog: kidoctr.blogspot.com (that's why there are a bunch of lines between paragraphs). We are major FOODIES and there are a ton of food pictures on my blog and why there's such a focus on our meals during this trip. I'm used to writing Disney trip reports so that's the format of this review. Thursday, 4 July 2013 and Friday, 5 July 2013 Dallas, Quebec City The trip to Quebec City via Dallas was straight-forward enough. We actually left Enid on the 4th of July to drive to Dallas but only after I spent about half an hour checking us in on Delta online. Even though I had requested seats when I bought the tickets, we were seated apart on the flight from Dallas to JFK. I had our boarding passes sent to our phones but then went back and looked at getting us re-seated. $25 per bag to check in and then another $39 per person to upgrade to economy plus so we could be seated together. It was all kinda fishy to me - pretty scam-like, really. Amina drove us down to Dallas, observing the speed limit EXACTLY all the way down. It took over 5 hours including a navigation mishap just a few miles from the exit to get to my sister's house. The problem in Dallas is when you miss an exit, you have to drive at least 10 more miles to try and get back to where you need to go. We finally arrived at my sister's house around 5 pm. I only had to say something about her driving maybe half a dozen times. That was the most highway driving she had ever done and there were still a good number of issues that came up simply because she didn't have the experience yet. We went out to dinner a little bit early to Chuy's which wasn't crowded at all given the holiday. The Southwest enchiladas were great but I could only finish half of it and saved the rest for tomorrow's breakfast. We returned back to Dee and Jason's house and hung out until around 9. The girls got in Amina's Prius and drove to Lake Dallas - mostly because the twins wanted to be in the car with Amina driving - and vice versa. At just after 9, we piled into the car and drove just across I-35E to watch the fireworks from one of the subdivisions. It was a pretty good fireworks show, the evening was cool enough, and we weren't eaten up by bugs while sitting in the parking lot of a closed shop. The girls spent a good chunk of the night trying to learn the "cup song" from the movie "Pitch Perfect" - what a racket they made. The next morning, we ate leftovers for breakfast and were out the door at 8 am to head for the airport. Jason dropped us off after telling me about the total solar eclipse in 2017 and how I needed to plan our trip to enjoy it. The eclipse will last for 20 minutes and will occur around 12:30 pm CST in the northern states. It sounds like the makings of a fun trip. On the way to JFK, I purchased each of us a wifi pass on the airplane - $14 each for a one day pass. It was kinda fun having internet access while on the flight. The speed was pretty darned good. The flight left Dallas a little late. We were just getting our boarding passes scanned when they sent passengers back from the boarding ramp because of a "maintenance issue". We waited about half an hour before getting to board. We arrived into JFK at around 4 pm and were disappointed to see that we had arrived into terminal 2 - not terminal E as I had looked up online. I had scoped out a place for us to eat in terminal E called the Shake Shack but the restaurants in terminal 2 were beyond pitiful. We were told by a security guard that we were on a "domestic" flight to Canada and not an "international" flight which I thought was really funny. So, we left terminal 2 to go and look for something to eat since we had about 2.5 hours - found terminal 5 where the best rated restaurants (sushi, italian, and tapas) were located but were turned away because we weren't Jet Blue passengers. What?? The only decent places to eat in JFK and we couldn't get in? That's crazy. So we made our way back to terminal 2 and settled for Wendy's. The good thing about terminal 2, though, is the abundance of seating that had outlets and complimentary ipad stations. We ate our dinner while playing hangman on the ipad. The flight out of JFK was also delayed. I'm not sure how long we sat at the gate and then on the tarmac because I fell asleep - it was at least an hour and a half - we didn't leave until around 7:30. The explanation we were given: there was some mix-up which resulted in a "missing passenger" and it took them a really long time to sort it out. It was past 9:30 pm when we finally arrived into Quebec City. Customs was a breeze - very fast and we collected our bags, caught a taxi and paid the flat $34.25 to get to the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac. Our taxi driver, from Morrocco, was very pleasant and had never been in the U.S. He told us his impression of the U.S. was of people who didn't work and had fun all the time. Ha! My initial impression of Quebec City at night was a little surprising as we had been to Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto before. Quebec City is very different - the closest to being to a real foreign country while in Canada. As Toronto is like watching an English movie with French subtitles, Quebec City is like watching a French movie with English subtitles. There wasn't a single person we met who didn't speak at least some English but all of the stores, ads, signs, etc, were in French with very little English around. People were mostly friendly but there's definitely that distinct "snooty" French feel to the city. We were dropped off in front of our hotel passing a ton of pedestrians along the way - apparently there was some sort of art festival going on right now and even though it was 10 pm, it was very crowded and alive with activity. We decided that even though it was late, we had to go out and walk around some after we checked in. Compared to the airport and customs, check-in at the world famous Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac was a different story. Our suitcases were immediately taken by a bell man and we walked into the lobby and found what looked like the front desk just off to the right. There were 2 queues - one that had a small sign for the Fairmont President's Club and another that was unmarked. We naturally got into the unmarked queue. There was a check-in desk on the left and the President's Club desk on the right. The check-in desk to the left was empty. There were 2 gentlemen at the President's Club desk busy with patrons who seemed to alternate between speaking English and French. We waited patiently for someone to show up at the unmarked check-in desk while the people in the other queue were helped by the gentlemen at the President's Club desk. After about 5 minutes, another couple joined us in our queue and I asked them to make sure they were also trying to check in. I understand that it's a little late but nobody showed up to check us in. I finally asked the staff member who had come over to the check-in desk and was busily emptying the garbage bins when someone would be by to check us in. 10 minutes had passed. He directed us to the other desk to check in but there was a constant stream of people in the other "President's Club" queue. It was really weird. Finally, Amina hopped the rope and stood in the other queue while I stayed in my queue. The couple behind us did the same. We were tired of being passed by people in the other queue. Finally, it was our turn and we were checked in. The staff member, of course, never questioned whether we were club members. When I had booked the hotel, it was really by accident. I was tossing around the idea of staying at this beautiful hotel but it was very exensive and we were getting in so late and would have to check out the following morning to embark. I was looking at a package and entered my CC information to see what the total would be and - VOILA - I was booked. Oops. So we collected our "free" gift which was a cute stuffed animal wearing a jacket that said Aquarium du Quebec and branded on the back with the Fairmont logo. Our room had 2 beds and was a typical European type room. We were greeted with a plate that had pieces of delicious nougat and dried orange peels along with a small bottle of locally made honey. We snacked while waiting for our bags to arrive. The room wasn't really special but the bathroom had a lot of marble and, though small, was very nice. Internet via wifi was an additional $15 for 24 hours. We got our luggage some 15 minutes or so later and decided to go out for a quick walk maybe find something to snack on. We strolled by the large statue where a guy was doing a show in French and went over to the railing by the funicular to peek at the cruise terminal and were pleasantly surprised to see the Veendam was already docked. I had no idea that it was arriving the day before. We then walked around the block and had stopped at a restaurant serving some nice pizza but we were told that they didn't do to go so we abandoned that idea. I guess they didn't really want our business. We ended up getting some gelato at a small shop a block over from the hotel and made our way back to the hotel to turn in. I played some mafia wars for a little while and went to sleep. Amina skyped with Bryce until about 3 in the morning. Saturday, 6 July, 2013 Quebec City I was probably still on central time because, like clockwork, I woke up at 6 am and tried to go back to sleep for the next hour finally getting out of bed at 7. I showered and packed up my things, got on the internet for a little while to do my Mafia Wars chores, and then went out to walk around. My first stop was the railing by the funicular because I wanted to get a picture of the Veendam. I picked up a coffee at Starbucks (which was the one and only time I saw a business give a 1% discount for the exchange rate with USD) and then walked around the block in the other direction. The closest restaurant to the hotel was a crepe place and I was shocked to see some crepes priced as much as $24. I walked for about half an hour and then headed back to the hotel. The weather was pretty nice not hot at all. I think by later in the afternoon it probably reached the mid-80's. I went back to our hotel but stopped by the front desk to ask about our aquarium passes that we were supposed to get as a part of our package. We hadn't received them with the stuffed animal and it wasn't in our room so the hotel staff guy gave me a voucher for the 2 of us to get into the aquarium. I asked about transportation and found out our options at the concierge desk the green line shuttle that would pick up near the hotel at 10:30 am and return from the aquarium at 2:25 pm for $5 round trip per person. I went back to the room and uploaded a bunch of pictures to our photo site, kidoctr.smugmug.com. I had gotten a little behind in uploading pictures so I got caught up again. At around 11:30, I woke Amina up so we could get packed up, checked out and make our way to the cruise terminal. My original plan was to just walk to the terminal because it was so close but because the hotel was in the upper part of town with steep streets, stairs or the funicular (like a tram on tracks where we had seen them squeeze people in like sardines), I thought it was just easier to take a taxi with our luggage. We checked out via the television in the room and then made arrangements to visit the aquarium on Sunday through concierge but I was a little worried about how late the shuttle picked us up from the aquarium. The Veendam was to leave at 4 pm so I was thinking all aboard was probably going to be 3 or 3:30. Being picked up at the aquarium at 2:25, returning to the Fairmont, and then making our way back to the terminal was going to be tight. We took a taxi to the cruise terminal and spent more on the wait to get into the terminal in the taxi than we did the actual ride from the hotel total was $15. Our taxi driver was pretty grumpy too. I had attached baggage tags to our suitcases that morning it was very interesting the way HAL was doing it now. We never received our docs in the mail as we had for every other cruise we've ever been on. I pre-registered us online and printed out our embarkation information as well as the luggage tags. The tags were just folded up and wrapped around the suitcase handle and was to be either taped or stapled. Since we didn't have a stapler, I had borrowed some tape from Dee and Jason's house putting a couple strips of tape inside my file folder and then a couple of shorter pieces over those strips so I could peel them off to use. I filled out the tags with our cabin number and taped them on it was very low tech, but it worked just fine. The bell men whisked our suitcases away and we entered the terminal. Up the escalator to the 2nd floor where we made a right turn and went around a couple of corners to the table where we filled out the typical health questionnaire: are you sick; have you been vomiting or having diarrhea; etc etc. We went through security check and didn't wait long at all before we were in front of an agent who checked our passports, my credit card, and issued us our key cards. It was a very quick process. We walked past the rows of chairs where there were a bunch of people sitting and using their various electronic gadgets taking advantage of the free wifi in the terminal. After the obligatory embarkation photos, we walked the long passageways leading to the ship. Our cabin was #588, large oceanview we had been upgraded so our cabin was on the same deck as embarkation Main deck, 5. Unfortunately, we had to go all the way to the back of the ship and make a U-turn to reach our cabin because the doorway was blocked during embarkation. I was so happy that our cabin was ready but when we entered, I saw right away that they hadn't arranged our room correctly even though I had called them a few days before we left. I had noticed on our embarkation papers that we had requested a single queen bed. When I called to have this changed, the gentleman informed me that when we were upgraded, the default choice was for the single queen and that he would change it to 2 separate beds. Amina's a kicker while she sleeps so I definitely didn't want to share a bed with her. Our stateroom attendant was nowhere to be found so we went up to the dining room for some lunch. One of the luggage porters gave us directions to the Lido deck for the buffet but I knew that the Mariners had an embarkation lunch in the main dining room (MDR) so we headed there instead and were seated right away. We met Donna from Florida who was doing the back-to-back trip with her husband who was out in the city taking pictures (one-way from Boston to QC and then stay aboard for the return trip). She was a former English teacher and we had a wonderful conversation with her over lunch. I had made the decision to really try and avoid gaining the usual 5-8 pounds on this cruise so I just had water and a fruit plate (and a bit of Amina's hamburger and cole slaw). Later, I had a special K protein bar too. We had reservations at a really nice restaurant for dinner and I definitely didn't want to spoil my appetite. I was very excited to have gotten this reservation and it was going to be Amina's first time at a AAA 5 diamond restaurant. By the time that we got back to our cabin, our luggage had arrived placed inside the cabin instead of outside the door which was very nice. We spent some time unpacking and our room steward dropped by so I asked him to change our sleeping arrangements. I called 88 on our phone to make dinner reservations. We were open dining but I had heard that on HAL, this really didn't mean come by anytime to eat dining as it was on our other cruises. I had read that if you showed up without a reservation, it wasn't unusual to have to wait for a bit. I was told that we could only make dinner reservations up to 3 days in advance so I only made reservations for 7 pm on Sunday night and then 6:45 pm on Monday evening (our day at sea the first formal night). On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, we had reservations at the 3 specialty restaurants. I would have to call back on Tuesday to make dinner reservations for Friday night. I was a little disappointed to find out that the 2nd formal night was on Thursday instead of Friday the night that we had reservations at the Pinnacle Grill. Oh well. I didn't try to change our reservations. What a weird and sort of messed up open dining system. We gathered our things and decided to do a quick tour of the ship so we went up to the top and made our way down. Our first stop was the Loft (teen club) which was deserted. There were activities that evening until very late in the Loft but we had 8 pm dinner reservations so Amina wasn't going to be able to make it. She wasn't really worried about trying to meet up with the other teens on board. We took a spa tour and signed up for the drawings, walked through the lido buffet, found the hamburger station as well as the pizza station, walked by the ample number of bars, and made it back to our cabin to pick up a few things before we headed out to the city. We found out that it was all aboard on Sunday at 3:30 so I thought we would have time to make it out to the aquarium and back. I had planned for us to take the walking tour described in the Tom's Port Guides that I had downloaded but it proved to be too much of a hassle with my ipad and trying to figure out directions so we just wandered for the next couple of hours, found the touristy streets, the entrance to the funicular, the wall paintings, and wandered into a few interesting looking stores. We sampled maple water which was really good low calorie with just a hint of maple taste and bought some. We had also walked into a store selling nougat and sampled the maple one and bought a bar. We picked up some chocolates from a chocolate shop that reminded me a great deal of the chocolate shop we were taken to during a tour of Paris. We also followed the sign to a small shop where we decided to try the beaver tail which was essentially like funnel cake, deep fried into the shape of a beaver's tail and you could choose from one of 9 toppings. We chose maple and it was quite good but the little shop was terribly hot even though we were able to pick up wifi in there. We also wandered into a bakery and picked up a few macaroons. A note on wifi and connectivity. Prior to leaving, I had purchased 50 international text messages on AT&T for each of our iphones as a precautionary measure ($10 per phone). International calling minutes weren't going to be worthwhile unless we planned to talk for more than 30 minutes. I also added data to my phone to use while in the Canadian ports ($120). Interestingly, in Quebec City, we were picking up free wifi right and left EXCEPT in the hotel. It was getting really hot and we had been out for a couple of hours so we headed back to the terminal at around 4:30 pm and hung out there to get our internet fix. I even went back to our cabin to get my laptop and was pleasantly surprised at how fast the wifi was (after all, I had more Mafia Wars chores to do). The terminal was freezing too and by the time we left, I was a popsicle. I was kinda kicking myself for not noticing that we had an extra day in port at QC we could have saved the $399 that I spent to stay at the Fairmont and arrived on the day of embarkation but I'm glad we didn't because we would have been arriving very late that night missing a day in the city and I noticed later that afternoon, the luggage porters were gone and people were embarking with all of their suitcases in tow. We snacked on our macaroons and drank our maple water while surfing the net. It was funny that after walking around in Quebec City, the only thing that we bought was food. I headed back to our cabin at around 7 to get ready for dinner rinsed off in the shower and changed clothes. Amina was already wearing a skirt that she planned on wearing to dinner. I went back to the terminal to get her and we walked the 1.5 blocks to Restaurant L'Initiale which we had passed a couple of times on our way to and from the terminal. After just a bit of a language issue (my reservation was written as Stewart instead of Switzer) we were taken to our table in the corner. The restaurant was nice enough nothing really fancy and it wasn't terribly crowded. We both ordered the Grand Menu ($129 pp) and I also got the wine pairing ($79). I've been to a good number of AAA five diamond restaurants it's on my bucket list to visit every single one in the world (there's around 50 of them in the US, Canada, Mexico, and a few other international destinations) we've knocked about half a dozen off the list so far in Las Vegas (3), Florida (1), and Oahu (1). Our most favorite AAA five diamond restaurant so far is at Disneyworld in Florida (Victoria and Alberts) but the one in Oahu is a very close second (La Mer) in my opinion. This one in Quebec City was good but there were a few things about the restaurant that I was a little surprised at given the five diamond rating. After an okay amuse bouche of tomatoes and cucumber with an arugula sauce that was really strong, the flounder was delicious but after I had taken a few bites, I realized that I hadn't been served the wine pairing. Come to find out that they did not do a pairing with this appetizer. Odd. The roasted Cepes mushrooms with Jerusalem artichoke, nougatine, and chicken broth was very good although the nougat pieces were just a little too sweet in my opinion and the dish would have stood well just on its own without the candy. The wine pairing was good. The red tuna with eggplant and pepper was actually a 2-in-1 with some gently seared pieces of tuna as well as a tuna tartare. It was also very good and paired well with the white wine but I was surprised that they poured the same wine with the next course, the lobster with fennel. It did not pair as well with the lobster. At this point I had to use the bathroom and went downstairs briefly and returned to find that our next course, the seared foie gras, had already been served. Also odd. The foie gras was absolutely wonderful and, of course, my favorite paired with a sweet wine that went well. Amina commented that she was getting pretty full by now and I had to agree. The next course was the main course: veal loin with sweetbreads. We joked a lot about the sweetbreads and the fact that Amina had recently dissected a sheep's brain in her University of Georgia brain, intelligence, and creativity summer studies class. The veal was ok definitely not my favorite and neither were the sweetbreads. I had to take a 2nd picture of the sweetbreads because it was easy to see the sulci and gyri at this angle. I can't remember the wine pairing it was probably also just ok. The cheese course was next and the hard cheese (I forgot what kind it was) was very good but the soft cheese sitting on top of the rhubarb wasn't as good. The rhubarb was just too tart. For dessert, we have chocolate flan with a cocoa bread, cherries topped with raw almonds and a side of caramel ice cream. I'm not a fan of chocolate nor of mousse this dessert more closely resembled a mousse than a flan. I also can't remember the wine except that I liked it because it was sweet. Our last course were strawberries with parfait cormier it was good but there was no pairing with this last course. The final odd thing of the night. We finished at just short of 11 pm and were given some Madelines to take home with us. Overall, I like this restaurant, the service was attentive, the food good not a ton of creativity points. Maybe just a smidge disappointed given the price because 2 courses were not paired with wine, 2 were paired with the same wine, and being served a course while I wasn't at the table is a bit of a faux pas. (Yes, I'm that picky). We walked back to the ship and went immediately to bed. Sunday, 7 July 2013 Quebec City I got up early again, stopped at the Lido buffet to get coffee (I had brought my own travel mug) and took my laptop back out to the terminal to do my Mafia Wars chores, upload pictures, and update my Facebook. I was going to miss the wifi in the terminal - it was more than decently fast. When I returned to the cabin, I had forgotten that Amina had ordered room service for breakfast to be delivered between 8 and 8:30. She had finished her breakfast of cereal and yogurt and had gotten back in bed again we didn't have to leave until around 9:45 to be back at the Fairmont by 10:15. I ate some fruit and put the box of granola cereal into my backpack to take with us to the aquarium. We walked back into QC and found the funicular, paid the $5 per person and boarded immediately. It must have been relatively early because the funicular wasn't nearly as crowded as we had seen it before. After the brief ride up to the top, we went into the Fairmont to the tour desk and paid the $5 per person fee for the green line shuttle to the Aquarium that we had reserved the day before we were given green wristbands for the ride. After a bathroom stop and buying a drink at Starbuck's for Amina, we sat outside of Starbuck's for a little bit until the green line shuttle arrived. When the passengers got off the shuttle, the driver told us it would be a little bit before he left (10:30 am) so we had a seat on the bench and Amina noticed that the red double decker tour bus in front of our shuttle had free wifi so we both connected and I was actually able to upload some photos to Facebook while we waited. The shuttle took an AWFULLY long time to get to the aquarium I was watching the clock because I was a little worried about making it back to the Fairmont in time to walk back and re-embark before sail away at 4. When we finally arrived at the aquarium (after stopping at one hotel twice and dropping some women off at the shopping mall), it had been almost 45 minutes! I asked the shuttle driver what time he thought the next shuttle (2:25 pm) would arrive back at the Fairmont. 3:10 pm he said. I really didn't think that was going to work for us we would have to find alternate transportation back to the ship. We waited in a pretty long line at the aquarium only 2 windows of 7 were open. It was also getting pretty warm standing in the sun. When it was finally our turn, we presented our voucher and had our hands stamped and went into the aquarium. I was looking for the information center to make transportation arrangements but the door signage was confusing. It probably would've helped if we had spoken French. The gift shop/guest services door said exit on them and I took that to mean that we needed to find the entrance so we went around to the other side of the building and walked in but it turned out to be the jelly fish and sea horse exhibit. This exhibit was VERY interesting and the highlight of our aquarium trip, in my opinion. They had so many different types of jelly fish in very cool tall displays some reminiscent of Finding Nemo and some with tentacles longer than I was tall. Jellyfish have no brains and are, well, beautiful but just plain creepy. One display was particularly interesting comparing how poisonous a type of jellyfish was compared to the cobra and other poisonous animals. The jellyfish won handily. The last part of the jellyfish exhibit was a huge wall of jellyfish with alternating colored lights it was just gorgeous and, well, creepy. The sea horse exhibit was fun with some of the most beautiful sea horses that I've ever seen. I learned that it's the male sea horses that carry the babies. We made our way to the other large building which held the fish and sharks. I stopped at the information booth to ask about alternate transportation arrangements and was told to have the guest service center just call for a taxi. The highlights of this building included a very close up look at an octopus (they just look nothing like how they are depicted in cartoons and stuffed animals), a particularly pesky sting ray that seemed to beg to be touched, a blue lobster, and an underwater fish viewing tunnel. We left that building and went outside for a little bit it was probably in the mid 80's by now not too bad in the shade but just a bit uncomfortable in the sun. We hopped (ok, walked) some lily pads in the small garden pond and then made our way over to see the seals, walruses and polar bears. At the conclusion of this portion of the aquarium, we were pretty much done and it was around 1 pm. We went back to the fish building to check out the cafe but nothing really appealed to us so we decided to call a cab and go back to the ship to have something to eat. We went back to the gift shop/guest services center and went in the door that said exit, asked the lady at the register to call a cab, looked around a bit then went outside to snack on granola cereal and wait for the taxi. It wasn't but 10 minutes when the taxi arrived and took us back to the ship the fare was about $25. The taxi driver was very friendly pointing out a large pile of salt that they use on the roads when it snows and told us that the record was in 2008 when they received 17 FEET of snow. We don't even get 17 inches in Oklahoma let alone 17 feet. We arrived back to the cruise terminal and after enjoying the free wifi for the last time briefly, we got back on the ship and decided to try the grill on the lido deck where they offered different types of burgers (beef, lamb, turkey, vegetarian) as well as hot dogs (beef and turkey). The line moved very slowly with just one cook in the grill filling orders and cooking the food. While we were waiting in line, we met Tatiana and her family she recognized us and introduced herself and her daughter Alex as well as her 2 younger children. We had met on Cruise Critic and had texted each other prior to the cruise having a lot in common. We enjoyed our food (beef hotdog for me and turkey burger for Amina) and then went our separate ways for the life boat drill. I think this was the first drill that I've been to where they didn't make us bring our life jackets from the cabin. Eons ago, they used to make everyone wear the life jackets and then more recently, they just had you bring them with you and now they just have you report in for the drill. It was a little disorganized. I think part of the problem was that deck 6 really isn't wide enough to accommodate everyone along with the fact that there were a bunch of people who arrived late. The life boat drill captain repeated missing cabin numbers several times and eventually, everyone was accounted for in our group. They gave the usual speech about using the life jackets, etc and then made a final announcement daring the missing passengers to report in for a "special drill" later. We then headed to the Crow's Nest for the Cruise Critic meet and greet. We weren't there very long but did meet up with John and Leslie who would be with us on a couple of our privately booked shore excursions. We left the party a little bit early to go to the spa and attend the drawing for free services but we didn't win anything. I had some time before dinner at 7 so I went back to the cabin and put on my workout clothes, returned to the gym, and got on the treadmill to run 3 miles. After showering and changing, we headed to the Main Dining Room (MDR) for our first dinner on the ship. There were 2 lines at the MDR on deck 7 (people with assigned seating were on deck 8): one for those with reservations and one for those without. There was a pretty good group of people loitering around waiting for their pagers to go off. The selection was really good we actually had trouble deciding on what to get and agreed to order different things and split so we could try a few things. I ordered the goat cheese with red onion jam and Amina got the salt cod and lobster cake. Both were very good. Amina then had the chilled cranberry soup which she described as melted ice cream I had to agree. I got the New England clam chowder which was good but a little too much like soup than a chowder for Amina. As we were enjoying our soup, the older couple seated next to us raved about the lemon turkey spinach barley soup so we asked the waiter to bring us an additional cup of soup. Amina ordered the bay scallops and clams over noodles while I got the Seafood Pot Pie. Both were good as was the turkey spinach barley soup. For dessert, we tried the banana chocolate tart and whoopie pie. When we returned to the cabin, there was a stingray waiting for us on my bed. Amina went to meet some of the other kids at the Loft so I went to see the comedian by myself. He was really good and did a lot of improv and audience heckling. I was so tired after the show that I went straight to bed and Amina followed not too soon afterward. Monday, 8 July 2013 Sea Day We both slept in this morning but had received an invitation the night before to the Mariners' Brunch in the dining room at 11 am. Our clocks also went forward an hour. I got Amina up and we went to the brunch where I had the most delicious warm salmon on a salad. The braised beef short ribs were very good. After brunch, Amina went off to meet some friends and I went to do a longer workout in the gym before my appointment for a deep tissue massage. I ran 5 miles on the treadmill but it took a really long time because I was trying to observe the 20 minute rule and kept taking breaks to make sure nobody was waiting to use the treadmills. I watched Zero Dark Thirty on my iPad as the tv monitor on several of the treadmills were broken, including mine. When I finally got done with my workout, it was about 1 pm and my massage appointment was at 2 so I checked in at the spa, was given a locker with a robe and slippers and went to take a shower. Unfortunately, there was no hair dryer or other bathroom products in the spa (eg lotion). I went to the relaxation area and almost finished watching my movie when my massage therapist a gentleman from Yugoslavia came to get me for my deep tissue massage. He was pleasant enough and had what sounded like a Russian accent. We talked for a bit before, during, and after my massage he had previously worked on Carnival and found HAL to be a bit boring because of the older passengers on board. He did get a day off a week and had been on board for about 3 months. He was looking forward to the next cruise because they were changing their itinerary the Veendam was also going to Hawaii soon. He did a reasonably good job with my massage but was mostly fairly light pressure for being a deep tissue massage. I passed him up on the product sales portion of the treatment and thanked him then returned to the cabin to get ready for dinner. We had a reservation at 6:45 in the MDR it was our first formal night. For dinner we had the prosciutto, genoa salami, melon and figs as an appetizer, the chicken and corn soup, and the filet of beef wellington. It was all pretty good but I did have to send my beef wellington back because the pastry was undercooked and there was still batter/dough on the inside even though the beef was well done. The 2nd plate I received was much better and I particularly enjoyed the duck foie gras that was sandwiched between the pastry and the beef. For dessert, the black forest cake was very good because I really love cherries. I was so tired that night I decided to skip the show (some broadway like musical) and the movie (Safe Haven) to turn in a little bit early. This evening , we had a squid waiting in our cabin. Tuesday, 9 July 2013 Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island We arrived into Charlottetown a bit after 8 am and were among some of the first to disembark from deck 3. We were to meet our tour guide from Duncan's Island Tours at 8:30 so we stopped off in the terminal building to take advantage of the wifi for a few minutes. I had received a few phone calls and had a couple of voicemails someone from Topor Boston tours had called to ask if I was still interested in the Chinatown market tour they had another couple that were interested, and if we still wanted to go, they would open the tour up for Saturday. I called them back and left a voicemail that we were still interested. We walked to the far end of the terminal building and easily found our tour guide, Terry, who walked us across the parking lot to his very nice mercedes benz SUV. He showed us a map of PEI about 150 miles from tip to tip of the island. We were at the southern part of the middle of the island and would be going north up to see the Anne of Green Gables house then around towards the east and back down south to Charlottetown. Now, neither Amina nor I have read the Anne of Green Gables series of books and really didn't know a thing about her or the author. I had booked this private tour but after speaking with Terry for a bit on our drive, we let him know that we were probably more interested in doing a culinary tour of PEI moreso than about Anne of Green Gables or Lucy Montgomery. Our first stop was a beautiful lookout to a typical fishing village across one of the many small lakes in the area. We did make a stop at Silver Bush where Lucy Maud Montgomery lived with her aunt and uncle and wrote her stories about Anne. We walked into the house and looked around briefly but there was a tour bus there and the house was crowded. We decided to forego the tour of the house, walked around a bit then got back in the car to get some ice cream the best ice cream in the world per Terry. Terry was full of great information and pointed out all sorts of things to us and answered my questions about PEI. He spent 4 months of the year at his house in Florida and grew up near Halifax before moving to PEI. He also managed a semi-pro football team in PEI. We stopped at Cow's Ice Cream and had a scoop of their Gooey Mooey ice cream on sprinkle cones. The ice cream really was very good but I'm no expert. According to Reader's Digest, though, it was the best ice cream in Canada and according to Tauck World Discovery Tours, it was rated the world's best ice cream. The Cavendish beach was nearby and Amina had mentioned to Terry that she really wanted to visit a beach so we headed over. We walked for a while on the beach - there were a lot of families there but nobody was in the water - it was too cold. We enjoyed a walk along the beach out to the rocky end and back then put our shoes back on and headed back to the car. At this point, Terry gave us the option of going to a seafood place or to a preserve store. I had mentioned to him that HAL recommended Lobster on the Wharf for lunch but Terry told us there were definitely better places that he recommended which is what I had suspected. We elected to go for lunch at the seafood place that he recommended. Before we got to the beach, Terry had mentioned that the largest native animal on PEI was the fox and just after we left the beach parking lot, he spotted one by the side of the road and pulled over. As if on cue, the fox crossed in front of the car and came over to our side as we rolled our windows down. It seemed to check us out briefly and since we weren't offering it any food, it moved on. Terry made one additional stop along the way to take a closer look at a lobster trap. I really knew nothing at all about lobster fishing. Terry had told us earlier that lobster used to be the "poor man's" food. If a child was sent to school with a lobster sandwich, they were considered to be poor and that lobsters were so abundant that they were oftentimes tossed into the garden to act as fertilizer. A typical native of PEI could go to a grocery store and buy a 1 pound lobster for around $7. He highly recommended the lobster dinners that were offered throughout PEI but we weren't staying overnight in Charlottetown this evening. For about $36, you got a 1 pound lobster and all-you-can-eat mussels, clams, etc. The lobster fishing season had just ended a couple of weeks ago A typical lobster trap had 2 parts. On one side, there were holes that a lobster could "walk" into which means that they backed up into the hole to get food (usually some type of fish) and dropped down a few inches into what was called the "kitchen". The lobsters couldn't back out of the trap. On the other end of the trap was a net that allowed the lobster to "walk" again and drop again into another section called the "parlor" where the lobster could hang out (leaving room for more lobsters to enter the "kitchen") until the trap was pulled up. The design was simple and clever. Our next stop was Richard's eatery - a definite local hangout. We placed our order: a lobster roll and chips (fries) for Amina, a scallop burger for me, and an order of steamed mussels for us to share. We got our pager and made our way upstairs to sit on the rooftop and watch the local kids jump off the bridge into the river. Amina decided there to add "jumping off bridge into river" to her bucket list. Our food was absolutely amazing. Amina's lobster roll was delicious with HUGE chunks of lobster. My scallop burger was actually half a dozen medium sized scallops that were coated in a panko-like crust and then deep fried and placed on a hamburger bun. Even though the scallops had been deep fried and the coating was light and crispy, the inside of the scallops were PERFECT - not overcooked and stringy. The steamed mussels were just amazing - delicious and I think Seth (the shell-fish hater) would have even liked it. The day was perfect sitting on that rooftop with a nice breeze and enjoying the sun. Terry drove us back to the ship terminal after pointing out a few more interesting historical sites and other places to eat. One thing that I wanted to try but we didn't have time to were "Malpeque oysters". Terry pointed out a couple of oyster bars not too far from the terminal where we could probably get those. I went to the ship to get my laptop and went back to the terminal to use the wifi but it was VERY slow bogged down by a ton of other passengers getting their internet fixes too. We shopped briefly in the terminal and then re-boarded the ship. I had just enough time for a couple of miles on the treadmill before dinner. Our reservation this evening was at Canaletto's. This restaurant was a bit interesting. When we boarded the ship, we were given 2 "invitations" in our stateroom - one for Pinnacle Grill and one for Evening at Le Cirque. We didn't get one for Canaletto which I thought was weird because we were paying the extra surcharge to eat there. We had walked by Canaletto a bunch of times but never realized it was there because it's tucked away in one corner of the lido deck right next to the buffet. You have to walk right by it to get to the buffet if you are coming from one side of the ship (aft or forward, can't remember which). When we got up to the lido buffet, we walked around a bit because I couldn't quite remember where I had seen it and finally asked for directions from a nice ship's officer who just happened to ask us if we needed help finding something. LOL. We were seated promptly and examined the menu and placed our order. We started with the antipasto service which was delicious - a choice of different meats, olives, roasted veggies, fresh mozzarella. Amina also noticed that the balsalmic vinegar on the table that we could use to dip our bread in was the thick, syrupy kind - it was also delicious and the kind of balsalmic that you would pour over ice cream - high grade. None of the first courses on the menu had appealed to me so I opted for the Edigiana Maccioni special which was the Italian herb sausage and Canelloni beans with creamy polenta. This was VERY good. The sausage wasn't very strong or spicy and the polenta was creamy and delicious. For the 2nd course, I wanted to try the veal osso bucco with potato gnocchi which is normally one of my favorites. The veal shank was HUGE and, unfortunately, pretty tough. Now, we'd had a very large lunch and I was getting really full anyways so I barely ate 1/2 of the osso bucco. I do have to compliment the wait staff on the Veendam - they are well trained to observe whether or not you cleaned your plate. If you left much food on your plate, they always asked to make sure that you were happy with your food. For dessert, I had the trio of tiramisu which included espresso, lemon, and amaretto flavored tiramisu in small glasses. Again, if I hadn't been so full, I would have finished all of it - this dessert was very good. I really liked the way that none of the flavors were overpowering in each of the tiramisu. That evening, we went to the 10 pm movie and saw Mud with Matthew McConaghey. I liked the movie even though it was a little slow paced. There was a towel lobster on the bed when we made it back to the cabin that night. Wednesday, 10 July 2013 Sydney, Nova Scotia We got to sleep in just a bit this morning as we weren't meeting until 10 for our tour with Tartan to Fortress Louisbourg. We went up to the Lido buffet for breakfast for the first time and then made our way off the ship to the terminal. There was also wifi in the terminal but it seemed a little slow. I had gone into the terminal earlier this morning just after 8 am when Amina was still sleeping to check it out and had run into Tatiana and Alex who were going on the tour with us. They thought we were meeting at 8 instead of 10. I walked briefly around the little shopping area and then went back to wake Amina up. When we came back down to the terminal, Amina found some earrings that she wanted to go back and buy after our tour was over. Our tour guide actually arrived a bit early. We all gathered in the terminal (Me, Amina, Tatiana, Alex, John, and Leslie) and then went out to meet our tour guide. The van that we climbed into seemed nice from the outside but as soon as I climbed into the back seat, I was not happy. The van reeked of cigarette smoke. The ladies had a nice conversation on the way to the fortress and we soon arrived at the visitors' center. Our driver told us to meet back at 2 pm. It was just before 11 am. At first, I thought it was a little chilly in Sydney but by the time we arrived at the fortress, it had warmed up a good deal and was probably in the 70's and sunny while we were there. There was a decent sized line in the visitors' center and we waited to purchase our tickets. There was also decent wifi in the visitors' center. We had just missed the bus so we went downstairs and took a few pictures before boarding the next bus. You ride the bus to the actual entrance to the fortress. While on the bus - you should sit on the left side to get a view of the fortress beyond the water. We walked through a small building with a few park interpreters and then walked the dirt road to the entrance of the fortress. We were stopped just in front of the bridge and given instructions such as park closure, not climbing on the walls, etc and then made our way across the bridge and into the fort. Tatiana had been told by her ticket agent that there was a cannon demonstration at 11:45 so we made our way in that general direction making a few stops along the way to see a blacksmith and bakery where we bought a small loaf of "soldiers' bread" for $2.50 just to get a taste of what the soldiers ate. Not surprisingly, the bread was heavy and not terribly tasty. We climbed the hill towards the building where the cannon demonstration was going to be and saw a good sized crowd headed the same way. To the immediate left there was a church and the park interpreter stopped us to ask where we were from and then proceeded to explain about the church and the various objects in the room. He obviously really enjoyed his job and did a great job telling us what he knew about the church. I asked him where the bathroom was and he was very sweet to walk us to the where the bathrooms were. When we were done it was getting close to 11:45 so we found an open space in the grass and sat down. The same park interpreter came back, found us, and told us that we were not sitting in the best spot and proceeded to take us to a much better location to see the cannon fire. He then explained to us what to expect....the soldiers and band would march out to the lower grass courtyard, do a short demonstration and then fire their muskets. Then they would march up towards the cannon and the muskets would fire in turn followed by the cannon. He was so helpful and we thanked him for the information. The demonstration was interesting - the soldiers actually loaded their muskets with gunpowder and fired them. When they marched up towards the cannon - 2 of the muskets misfired which one of the interpeters standing near us commented that this happened from time to time. She said that it wasn't unusual for the cannon to misfire as well. We explored the governor's compound for a bit and then made our way down into the "village" and stopped to see a few exhibits including a very interesting demonstration of lace weaving. Weaving lace by hand is extremely tedious but the result was beautiful. The woman interpeter told us that it took about an hour to weave one inch of lace. We eventually made it down to the 2 restaurants that were available to dine in. I had read that one was for the "upper class" (officers, etc) and the other was for the "lower class" (soldiers, workers, etc). The wait of the upper class dining was 15 minutes and they served a 3 course meal. We examined the menu of the "lower class" restaurant and decided to eat there. We were squeezed in between 2 other couples at what looked like a picnic table and were told that sharing 8 to a table was required. The guy on one end of the table grumbled about having to share the table with us. We were each given a very large piece of cloth to use as a napkin and a spoon. Amina ordered fish soup and we shared the mussels as well as some canadian white cheddar cheese. We chatted with the couple at the other end of the table who were from British Columbia and were visiting all of the maritime islands. The man sitting next to me ordered the French Toast and when he asked the waitress for something to eat it with, she directed him to use his spoon. It was really funny and he took it all in good spirit. The food was really pretty good and not too heavy. When we finished, it was almost 1:30 so we decided to take the bus back to the visitors' center. As we were leaving the fortress, the same park interpreter who had talked to us before, found us again and pointed out that the draw bridge entrance to the fort was a weighted lever so that just one soldier could draw the bridge up himself. Back at the visitors' center, we peeked into the gift shop where I bought a little something for Rhys (a candy stick that you could tear open with your teeth like a packet of musket gun powder and pour the "powder" and gum ball into your mouth to enjoy). We met up with our driver and got back into the smoke-laden van and he took us to a vantage point with a lighthouse where we got out and took some pictures and the girls found some jellyfish. We seemed to take a different route back to the cruise terminal and our driver really never said a thing to us. I had already made a decision back at the fortress that this "tour" was definitely not worthy of any sort of tip. We paid the exact tour fare and went back into the terminal. We stopped first for Amina to get the earrings that she had looked at but wanted to make the 3 pm Indonesian tea service and we were a bit late so we headed straight for the dining room where they did accommodate us at a table for 8. Amina got a spiced tea and I got a jasmine - hers smelled better than mine. We were offered several savory and sweet items including some smoked salmon on toast, steamed cake, and rice balls. They were all good and we enjoyed talking with our table mates. One couple was from Grove, OK - just northeast of where we lived. I went to the gym and did a really quick couple of miles then returned to the cabin to shower and get ready for our dinner at the Pinnacle Grill for their "Evening at Le Cirque" dinner. Seth and I love to eat at the Le Cirque in Las Vegas at the Bellagio hotel. It's probably in our top 10 favorite restaurants of all time - we've eaten there at least half a dozen times. The amuse bouche was a creamy foie gras pate on top of a mildly fruity jam. I liked it but Amina didn't care much for it. Amina ordered the caesar salad which was very interesting in the way it was prepared/presented. I had the trio of salmon, caviar, and foie gras pate which was pretty good but I did notice how sloppy the presentation was - something you would NEVER see at the real Le Cirque. Our next course was the butternut squash soup with huckleberries which was very good - I liked the contrast of the smooth sweet soup and the tart huckleberries. For the main course, I had the seared alaskan black cod which was absolutely delicious and my favorite part of the meal. The cod was very nicely cooked but I was a little surprised that there were bones in it. It was a very generously sized piece of cod. I had the famous Le Cirque creme brulee for dessert and was happy to find the recipe for the dessert printed at the bottom of the ramekin so I simply had to finish all of the dessert so I could take a picture of the recipe. I wasn't interested in the show or the movie this evening so I went back to the cabin to catch up on my blog post for a bit then went to bed. There was a towel crab on my bed this evening. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2010
It may have been just as applicable to title this review "The Great Race to Florida" or "Retirement Home at Sea". We embarked on October 6th in Quebec City for the 10 day cruise to Fort Lauderdale. The ship traveled at ... Read More
It may have been just as applicable to title this review "The Great Race to Florida" or "Retirement Home at Sea". We embarked on October 6th in Quebec City for the 10 day cruise to Fort Lauderdale. The ship traveled at 20 - 22 knots on average and it felt at times like we were in a hurry to get to FL. Our fellow passengers were very pleasant and some of the nicest people we have cruised with so far. I expected an older crowd but was unprepared for the number of walkers, wheelchairs, scooters and canes we encountered on a daily basis. The crew did an excellent job with the elderly passengers and were very patient with them during the tendering process (3X). I became familiar with the HAL board several months prior to the cruise. Unfortunately the Eurodam did not live up to our expectations. We have cruised on Celebrity (Solstice, Century, Constellation), Princess (Diamond), Oceania (Insignia), NCL (Jewel) and Avalon Waterways (Danube River). Our last cruise was on the Celebrity Solstice in 2009. We found it amazing that the Eurodam and the Solstice were launched only a few months apart. The Eurodam reminded us of a Sheraton Hotel while the Solstice is more similar to a W or Sofitel. Although initially the Eurodam dEcor was jarring and in some instances awful, it did grow on us during the 10 days. The best things about the Eurodam were our stateroom and the Tamarind. The Good: 1.Nice size VA AFT (stern) stateroom on deck 4. 2.The beds, as promised, were the most comfortable at sea. 3.Pillows were very fluffy and you get 2 each! 4.Side bed lights great & the night tables w/locking drawer useful. 5.Room safe was large, at eye level and locked easily. 6.The crew, with the exception of the front desk, very helpful & cheerful 7.Captain's Cocktail party in Crows Nest was very nice. Good music, food. 8.Tamarind was beautiful and menu offered some good choices at dinner. 9.The fresh squeezed orange juice was a delight. 10.The flower arrangements were amazing throughout the ship. The Bad: 1.Front desk -the most rude and unhelpful people we have experienced on a ship. 2.The dEcor - seemed outdated and tired for a ship only 2 years old. 3.The Exploration Cafe should be moved. Felt like an Old Folks Home with the people snoozing on the reclining chairs and the trivia game going on. Should be able to use a computer without having people snoring next to you or listening to trivia. Food and beverage selection was terrible. Cafe Bacio on Solstice is far superior. 4.Food in Lido was poor - we are not picky and this is the first cruise we could not eat in the lido. 5.Main pool area is not designed well as there is limited shade due to the lido cabanas. 6.Stateroom TV is very small and located far away and is hard to see. 7.Closet lighting is very poor. We had to select our clothing by touch because we could not see it. 8.Future cruise desk is located in the lobby among congestion. Should have a designated room or better area. Did not book a future cruise (FLL to Lima) after waiting 30 minutes as the cruise manager had only 2 minutes to talk. She had to go to the Mariner's lunch. I could have returned but lost interest. 9.Internet service was a little slow but I am used to that at sea. What was awful was that once you logged on you started paying while you had to wait to connect to the Internet which could take awhile. You should only be charged when you are actually on the Internet. Sometimes we logged on but it took 10 more minutes to connect to the Internet. The Internet manager kept crediting everyone's account. 10.Tea served on the ship was strange. Tea bags served except the Indonesian Tea where it was loose leaf in mesh bags. Food at Afternoon Tea was not so great. I asked at the Indonesian Tea if I could take some extra loose leaf tea for later and they said "no". Lessons Learned: •Do not to eat in the main dining room at a large table (10) as it took 3 hours. •Do enjoy a mix of passengers but accept that HAL can be like a retirement home at sea. •Don't believe the Front Desk when they tell you everything "is fine" so when you go back a few days later and are told "it is not fine and they never told you it was" you are not surprised. More info below. •Do bring your own loose leaf tea as it is not offered on the ship. •Don't expect decent coffee in the lido. The main dining room had good coffee. •Don't try to understand why the specialty restaurants (Tamarind, Pinnacle and Cannaletto) are left half empty. They will try to tell you it is because they want to maintain quality or that the kitchen is too small. Perhaps a smaller restaurant would make more sense? Eurodam 10 Day Atlantic: As former Massachusetts residents we took this cruise to experience the fall foliage. A combination of a fungus affecting the Norway Maples, unseasonably hot weather, and Hurricane Earl impacted the leaf peeping. The foliage was muted and Earl blew what was left off the trees prior to our arrival. Nonetheless, we did enjoy aspects of the cruise and thought our aft cabin (4187) was quite spacious and nicely laid out. The balcony however, was very small and not well furnished. As a non-smoker I was very worried about smoking on the ship. However, we never had an issue with it. Even walking thru the Casino was not a problem. Food We ate most of our meals in the specialty restaurants. We ate in Tamarind 5 times (dinner 4 and lunch once, Pinnacle 2 times for dinner, Cannaletto once and one time we had pizza. We ate in the main dining room 2 times for dinner and also had breakfast there about 6 or 7 times. We did not enjoy the Lido buffet. Breakfast was abominable and lunch wasn't much better. The eggs Benedict in the Lido was served on a roll and was just luke warm. The Eggs Benedict in the main dining room was much better. Tamarind: One of our main reasons for booking the Eurodam was the Tamarind. Having tried Silk Harvest on Celebrity Solstice I was interested to make the comparison. Taramind was good but not as great as some of the posts would have lead us to believe. A lot of the dishes are more Indonesian, especially the sauces. The Szechuan Shrimp was thickly breaded and had a heavy tomato based sauce. It was more Cantonese and when the breading was removed the shrimp were very tasty. The Shrimp and Scallop dish is more like a Thai soup (Tom Yum Kha). I would recommend not ordering a soup first if you are going to order this dish. The best dishes were the Hainan Duck and the Satay appetizer. The duck was prepared crispy and the sauces were hoisin and a chicken broth. The satay was huge and came with peanut sauce and a Indonesian sauce but not the ususal fish sauce with onions and cucumber you get in Thai restaurants. The sushi was poor but that may because they changed the chef the day we ordered it. Service in Tamarind was excellent and the women that serve the guests are very attentive and pleasant. In our opinion Silk Harvest is far superior. You can also get smaller portions in Silk Harvest and share them among the table. In Tamarind, each guest is expected to order their own food and not share the dishes. Our last night in Tamarind we had the Rijstifel dinner. It was a lot of food and ok but I probably would not do it again. Actually we were told by the Tamarind Maitre'd that they will no longer be doing the Rijstifel Dinner. Decor The ship dEcor was puzzling. We were informed that there were two designers. One for the Tamarind area and another for the rest of the ship. It was very apparent. The majority of the ship seemed old and tired. It didn't really look elegant. The metal sofas near each bank of elevators were ugly and seemed out of place. The loung chairs at the aft pool deck were chipped and need to be replaced. The Exploration Cafe and library has cheap looking laminate cabinets and is spaced strangely near the Crows Nest. There were a few features we liked besides the Tamarind: Oil lamps on the cocktail tables in one of the bars, the brass elevator art deco doors, the Rembrandt Dining room. Entertainment: Went to one show of the Singers and Dancers. Could not wait for it to be over. It just went on and on and was not very good. This was not for lack of effort though. We enjoyed the movie "Date Night" that was screened in the Main Stage. We tried to watch a DVD on our room on the last day, but our remote did not work because the batteries had discharged and were now corroded. We tried using the DVD controls but that did not work. Greenhouse Spa: I had two facials by different people, Erica first, then Jayde. The Oxydermy was better with Jayde. Erica was kind of new. Erica actually called me in my stateroom to find out what products I purchased from Jayde and then tried to sell me some including a serum for $175 I had already declined twice. I complained to the spa manager a few days later. Otherwise it was pleasant experience. Crew: They were very helpful and wanted you to know their names so they could be recognized by HAL for their contribution. The Captain and Senior Officers were fine. Captain Darin Bowland seemed to be a little over confident though. We went through a white squall off the coast of Virginia. This was around 4:30 pm on the first sea day. The ship listed 5 degrees which does not seem like much but it was noticeabley tilted &the Captain came on the PA to address the passengers. They moved ballast and water to even out the ship. Apparently we were hit by a 72 mph gust of wind. The waves were not significant. At a session with the Captain and two officers he was asked about the ship following the squall. The Captain responded that the ship can take "anything" and that they run the ship for the comfort of the passengers. That sounded a little strange. I was going to ask about the Prisendam dented bow, flooded lounge and broken windows but decided that would not be appropriate at this venue. The Captain is very nice, funny and also very tall! We had serious issues with the Front Desk, especially with someone named, Wendy. My sister received permission prior to the ship sailing to make an onboard visit in Gloucester. I checked with the front desk when we boarded and after 10 minutes they said "it is all set". When the day came for her to board the same person, Wendy said she never told us it was set and perhaps it could not happen. This was unnecessary if they actually knew what they were doing. It created a lot of stress and confusion. The security team was excellent and sorted it out. We had other issues with the Front Desk regarding the Canaletto restaurant and wanting to speak to the Hotel Manager. They just smile and act like they are being helpful when they are not. The Front Desk seriously impacted our feelings about HAL. It was not one person and I would be reluctant to deal with them again. I lived in Asia and am tolerant of other cultures but these ladies are unprofessional. Ports: Most of the ports were new to us. Quebec City was fabulous and we had 2 ½ great days there. The Chateau Frontenac was nice but it was overpriced at $400 per night. We got upgraded to a water view room but I would probably stay somewhere else next time. Shopping in Quebec City was superb. Other ports not covered in the port section are included below: Baie Comeau (Brain Mulroney's home town) was windy and rainy when we arrived but we went ashore and took the school bus ride to the little town and walked around and had lunch which was very good (French pizza and a burger). We did see some whales when we got back to the ship. Gaspe was a long day. We took the excursion to Perce Rock and Bonaventure Island to see the Gannets and Puffins. After a 20 minute tender it was an hour bus ride to Perce. From there we took the 25 minute boat ride each way to get to Bonaventure Island. Seas were a little choppy but we had clear skies and the wind was not bad. We circled the island and saw lots of birds and some seals. It was fun and we got some good photos. Pierre our guide was very helpful and explained a lot about the area. Perce wasn't that interesting. I am glad we did not spend our day there walking around. Gloucester was our last stop before our 2 sea days and arrival in FL. We got permission for my sister to visit the ship in Gloucester. As she lives just outside of Boston it was very convenient. There was some confusion with security on getting her on the ship. It took patience but it worked out. We visited the McCann Sleeper House. It was very interesting and we enjoyed the tour. The House was amazing. We then went to visit a friend of mine who has a shop in Gloucester and then returned to the ship for lunch at Tamarind. The Dim Sum lunch was not very Chinese. The salad was strange and the fried items seems more Indonesian. My sister had been on the Amsterdam and another HAL ship before. She liked the Eurodam and thought it would be nice to try. Comparison with Celebrity Solstice: Celebrity Solstice is a world away from the Eurodam. It is a beautiful ship with specialty dining venues and a modern vibe. It is also elegant in a sophisticated way. The pool areas on Solstice are very beautiful and much nicer than the Eurodam. The staterooms may be a little smaller but they are designed well and the bathrooms are fantastic. The interactive large screen TV's (view account, photos, make restaurant reservations, etc) are wonderful on Solstice Class. The TV's on the Eurodam are a step backward which I guess goes with the dEcor. The Front Desk, crew and officers on Solstice could not have been more helpful. Silk Harvest as mentioned above is also better than Tamarind. HAL offers many interesting itineraries that you cannot get on Celebrity. That is the reason we tried it. However, I will probably look elsewhere for these more exotic itineraries. Our Eurodam cruise had some nice moments but overall I think we can do better and be happier on Celebrity, Azamara or Oceania. Sydney, Nova Scotia was cold and windy upon our arrival. Very happy to take the HAL excursion to the Alexander Graham Bell Museum and Baddeck. Saw some nice foliate along the way. Our guide David was terrific. Very funny and knowledgeable. He talked a lot but it was never boring. Museum was just ok. Learned that Mr. Bell started his career in speech therapy and that his wife was deaf. If they can someday incorporate the private Bell home into the tour that would make it more interesting. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2010
We flew to Quebec through Detroit 3 days prior to our cruise to spend some time in the city and surroundings and were highly pleased with this decision despite costs of hotels in Canada. Be aware that commuter airlines which fly into ... Read More
We flew to Quebec through Detroit 3 days prior to our cruise to spend some time in the city and surroundings and were highly pleased with this decision despite costs of hotels in Canada. Be aware that commuter airlines which fly into Quebec city often cannot accommodate all of the luggage brought by cruisers..........ours was delivered the next day to our hotel so carry your necessities and a few undies with you as some people did not get their luggage until the first port! Quebec is a beautiful city with international flavor that many will recognize as containing parts of Paris, the Provence, Ireland, Scotland and London....very hard to describe but quite memorable and worth the extra time to savor. We were fortunate to have friends in Quebec City that we had met on a cruise almost 2 years earlier so we had the benefits of tours by night, day and surrounding territory including Montmorency Falls from several aspects (don't miss). Ports: Baie Comeau is reputed to be beautiful but all we encountered was heavy wind, rain and cold temperatures; so we did not get off the ship although some hardy types with raincoats, umbrellas and waterproof coats braved the Canadian fall weather we had been warned about. Gaspe: much of the same poor weather but we did get off the ship and found not much on shore as did not schedule a tour (thankfully because of the weather). Sydney: was our first port with no rain and it had a nice port facility with good internet connection and Celtic music performers in the background. Again did not stray far from port. Prince Edward Island: Again if you do not go on a tour there is little to do around the port so consider ship tour or car rental as we have been on the island before and it is quite nice particularly on the Northern shore. Halifax: been there before so we did not go to Peggy's cove but probably should have since our first trip was during rain from the hurricane (Ike that was following us as I recall) and my pictures show fantastic waves, dark clouds and rain but no sun from that earlier trip. Bar Harbor: on this trip we took a local trolley tour for 4.5 hr all around the island and this was a great decision since we had already toured the town on a previous visit. Followed that up with a 2 lb lobster lunch for each of us and shared a table with fellow cruisers to expedite seating....remember this approach or you will easily wait over an hour at some of the most popular local restaurants if you need a table for 2. Gloucester, MA: this was the highlight of the trip for both my wife and I and very unexpected. We had booked a local whale watching tour online for a very reasonable amount that included a discount for cruise passengers and saw many, many (>20) humpbacks swimming in pairs, triples and with calves and dolphins following the boat (major feeding areas for whales are located in this area it appears). We were quite hungry after the whale trip and the Lido had already closed for the day............so we decided to try the restaurant right by the pier the tender uses. I had what I considered to be the best haddock I have ever eaten in my life and wife agreed concerning her lobster roll (and we live in the OBX of NC where we always have fresh fish!). At a Mariner brunch the next day, another passenger said they had eaten at the same restaurant and HE had the best haddock of his life! Ft. Lauderdale: well as all cruisers know every trip has to end....but we decided to tack on 2 nights in Key West and 1 night back in Ft. Lauderdale after a leisurely return from the Keys. Do this if you have the time and you won't regret it. Ship/Dining etc.: The Good: The Eurodam is a beautiful ship for the most part with good new additions including the Tamarind and Canaletto dining areas. We dined at the Tamarind 2x for lunch and once for dinner and canceled a third lunch reservation because the choices are fixed and can get a bit boring (if you do not reserve early in the cruise you may not get in so plan ahead/reserve pre-cruise etc.). Overall the Tamarind food was good as we like Asian food but choices were very limited (fixed menu at lunch), service was a bit slow (particularly at lunch), the spiciness was excessive in some dishes (soups) and having red pepper flakes in your desert topping is going well overboard. Some fine-tuning in menus is required to get this from good to very good or great and more choices and quantity would be appreciated here. Did not dine at Canaletto but preparation of pasta and sauces in the Lido grill area did not appear very interesting despite menu descriptions. The dining in the Main Dining room was 5 star and up to what we consider typical HAL standards. I typically like the food in the Lido on all HAL ships because I am very selective about what and how much I take to eat. The Eurodam has perfected the "station" concept which eliminates a lot of the get in line mentality on other ships we have been on. For Information Purposes in the Lido: For the first 72 hours of a cruise, HAL (at least in this first experience) appears to have initiated a policy of no self-service for health and sanitation reasons I was told. After 72 hours, passengers are allowed to serve themselves in the Lido food areas if there have been no incidents of "problems" sometimes afflicting crowded food areas and passengers that "forget" to thoroughly wash and sanitize their hands. The Disappointing: There are some surprising dull spots on the Eurodam that are not typical of HAL. The colors in the main theater are really dull, drab and the design is truly disappointing compared to other HAL (or other line's) ships we have been on. Locating the library in the Crow's nest area is a downgrade in my opinion from the old design that kept it separated (and relatively quiet) from the activities at the bar, Trivia games, and specialty coffee area. The cabanas on the pool area outside the Lido and the "Sanctuary" area outside on Deck 11 is a poor idea in my opinion and another example of HAL's "new" (and possibly misguided) concept to make $$ take up a lot of useful space for the sake of a very few passengers; I did not see any of them used during our trip. Crew/Staff/Service: Generally excellent in all aspects with a few glitches in room service. One morning instead of coffee we received a glass of water!! This was devastating to wife but easily solved since our cabin was only a short walk up the stairs to the Lido. Another morning after breakfast, we returned to find a large tray of food for 2 people..........that we did not order. The passengers that did order breakfast were likely as happy as my wife was with her glass of water. Gene Young, the Cruise Director, was Very Good and among the top 2-3 CD's we have had on our 10 cruises. Overall: Good cruise, itinerary, service and food. Would do it again but probably on our favorite ship the old but glorious Maasdam following her 2011 rejuvenation. Read Less

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