Saturday – We flew into Boston and went straight to our ship, Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas. It was a beautiful fall day, better than I expected for the end of October. The embarkation went quickly and soon we were on-board, filling up at the welcome aboard buffet in the Windjammer Cafe. Then we unpacked and relaxed until it was time for the mandatory lifeboat drill, taking some time to “tour” the ship and get familiar with it. Dinner in the main dining-room was very good. We had good company at our table and enjoyed a nice conversation as we got to know our table mates. Tomorrow we will be in our first port, so we are heading to bed a bit early, especially since we were up for an early flight.
Sunday – Portland, Maine.
Another beautiful fall New England day. Portland was very colorful and charming. We spent the morning just strolling the area near the ship, shopping for local goods. I bought some Maine wild blueberry preserves, some lighthouse earrings from the artist directly and a refrigerator magnet, also from the artist, to add to my collection of travel magnets. The artists and craftspeople were right on the sidewalks of the main street and around a small grassy area. It was very charming and very friendly.
After a lunch in the Windjammer back on the ship, we joined our tour guide for a lighthouse tour. It was one of the tours we purchased directly from the cruise line prior to our trip.
Our guide was fantastic and we really enjoyed hearing her vast local knowledge. She told us about Portland, lighthouses and the lobster industry. We saw the Portland Breakwater Lighthouse (aka the Bug Light), the Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse with the Liberty Ship Museum, and the famous and beautiful Portland Head Light and Museum (and shop!!). I got pictures of them all, but I took the majority at the Portland Head Light, from every conceivable angle on land as it was just so breathtaking there perched on the jagged rocks. And then, yes, I got a couple more souvenirs. Back on board, we ate a quick clam chowder and fries in the Seaview Cafe to hold us until late dinner in the dining-room, but then, we decided we didn’t want to eat late, so we ate buffet in the Windjammer. And then a few items for a bedtime snack.
Monday – Bar Harbor, Maine. We booked a nice trolley excursion to Acadia National Park for the morning and it was better than I even anticipated. Our tour guide was both informative and entertaining. We drove the park roads past fall foliage, rocky cliffs, spectacular ocean views, wild blueberry bushes, sea rose bushes and a lake created by beavers.
We had three stops. The first was the top of Cadillac Mountain, the highest summit in the northeast. We were fortunate that it was a clear, sunny day (not to mention warm!) and our view was terrific. Then we stopped at Sieur du Mont Spring where the wild flower garden of Acadia is also located. The flowers were pretty much gone for the year, but the foliage was still very colorful. We tasted the sweet spring water and then headed on our way to our last stop, Thunder Hole.
This is a cut in the rocks along the coast that when the waves crash into it, they make a loud clap that sounds like thunder. The setting is impressive and so is the sound. On the way back to town, we learned more about Maine and the lobster industry.
We decided to just grab a bite in town rather than go to the ship for lunch since we had to tender in that day, so we went to a small deli and got real New England clam chowder and lobster rolls, all tasty! We were told the lobster ice cream was excellent, too, but we didn’t try any ourselves.
We shopped a bit, picking up a few items and then back on board for dinner and sleep after a day filled with activity.
Tuesday – St. John, New Brunswick, Canada. We booked the Pink Bus Hop On – Hop Off tour from the ship. This tour offers 3 separate loops. We took all 3 (all for one price). We visited some neighborhoods and city sights and of course, shopping venues. The first was a new mall in the city center which featured the Nova Scotia Museum and shop, probably the highlight of the port. We enjoyed it very much. Then we visited the historic City Market which is a food and craft market. Other sights included a continuously operated general store and Benedict Arnold’s house. Another loop took us to see the reversing rapids of the Bay of Fundy where the highest tides in North America exist and they come through the inlet with such force that the river actually flows upstream during high tide. Since the weather was not ideal, we decided to skip the tour of the park and head back for some local shopping at the big tent at port and then back onboard for some more clam chowder and fish n chips in the Seaview Cafe.
By the way, the reason the big buses are Pink is that a portion of the proceeds go to the Breast Cancer Research Fund of Canada and of course, any progress made in any country towards treatment and cure of a disease helps people all over the world.
Wednesday – At Sea. We had a nice day at sea, exploring the ship and relaxing. It was nice to walk on the deck, although being the end of October, I bundled up and enjoyed the brisk and refreshing sea air. I must admit, I didn’t have much company out there though. We had a warm bowl of very good New England Clam chowder and a sandwich in the Seaview Café. This is a cozy little beach-style café hidden to the aft of the upper deck of the ship. We recommend it highly! Early to bed tonight because we have a full day planned for tomorrow.
Thursday – Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. We couldn’t decide between taking the tour to Lunenburg or to Peggy Cove, so we rented a car and visited both. It worked but really didn’t give us enough time to adequately enjoy either nor did it give us time to see anything right in Halifax. We traveled a well-maintained highway to Lunenburg first. It is a very picturesque Atlantic fishing village with much history. In fact, Lunenburg has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its strong ties to its past. The buildings along the water are colorful and the highlight was visiting the “barn” where the famous Canadian sailing vessel, the “Bluenose II” was being refurbished. From there we took a road along the water past the much-photographed 3 Churches of Mahone Bay and then along the lighthouse route to Peggy Cove. (Note: We didn’t see any lighthouses until we got to Peggy Cove, nor between Peggy Cove and Halifax.)
Peggy Cove is home to the most famous and most photographed lighthouse in all of Canada. It sits perched atop a well-smoothed rock in this quaint little village. It was late in the year so most of the vendors had closed up shop. There was just one gift shop open and, knowing that there were still some cruise ships there this weekend, they must have really bumped up their prices. So we browsed, took some photos and started back along the same route to Halifax.
We stopped to photograph some sights along the boardwalk, but it was late and we needed to return the car and get to the ship. The car rental agency was a short block from our ship and the historic pier so we did board on time. We plan to return to just tour the city of Halifax as it has a lot to offer and almost everything is right along the water and the boardwalk. Nova Scotia is what I expected of Maritime Canada, friendly, colorful and keeping with its nautical traditions.
Friday – At Sea. What better way to spend the last day of a cruise than a relaxing day at sea before getting back to reality at home? We got up late, ate when we wanted, listened to the music in the Centrum, the atrium of the ship, where some people danced, and just walked on the deck in the calming sea air. We were treated to a beautiful sunset before we packed and put our suitcases out for pick up later that night. Now it is time to get a good night’s sleep because we have to head home in the morning. Luckily, it is a short flight between Boston and Buffalo so we should be home refreshed and ready to get back to work and of course, planning our next vacation!
Saturday – Back home and ready to help you book your next vacation!