(Fall – 2013)
SATURDAY: Took the short flight from home to Newark, NJ and were met by the Celebrity airport greeter who guided us to the motor-coach for our transfer to the pier. We breezed through the check-in process. We had priority check-in with our Select status in the Captain’s Club loyalty program, but the lines were very short even for those with standard check-in status. We boarded the SUMMITT and accepted our complimentary “Welcome Aboard” champagne and then headed to the Oceanview Cafe for the wonderful welcome aboard buffet.
We had our mandatory mustering (safety drill) and then sailed away from Cape Liberty through the New York Harbor, past the Statue of Liberty and the NYC skyline. We decided to just eat in the cafe for dinner and we got a table outside. Great food! Afterwards we hit the ice cream bar and then headed to our cabin to finish unpacking and turn in early.
SUNDAY: Day at Sea – We slept so well last night and woke up refreshed this morning. In the cafe, we got made-to-order omelets and fruit and ……., which we ate at an outdoor table enjoying the sunshine and fresh sea air. We just relaxed all day long, pausing only for lunch. In the evening we headed to the Cosmopolitan Dining room. We chose to sit at a large table and we met some nice people there.
Having chosen the Celebrity Select dining option, we just showed up at the dining room when we wanted to and were seated. The menu was wonderful with so much to choose from. I ordered Shrimp Cocktail, French Onion Soup, Mixed Greens Salad, Chateau Briand and Creme Brulee. It was wonderful. Afterwards, we stepped into the theater for a complimentary glass of wine and the introduction of the ship’s officers.
MONDAY: We arrived at our first port of call – Portland, Maine. We didn’t have an excursion booked so we explored the downtown area with the nice shops and the street vendors who sold their crafts. There were artists, authors, jewelry-makers, photographers, and other crafters. That’s where I purchased a few souvenirs. I prefer to buy something local to remember a visit rather than the mass-produced items you so often find in tourist locations. After lunch, we took a harbor boat tour on Casco Bay.
We sailed by 4 lighthouses and 2 forts. A few harbor seals were swimming within our sight as we cruised back to the dock. It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon and the boat ride was relaxing and enjoyable. Back on board the Summitt, we decided to eat in the cafe again. The grill at the end of the food circle was serving made to order steak, chicken, fish and pork chops. We ordered there, added baked potatoes and fries, made salads at the salad bar and topped it all off with a variety of bite-sized desserts. We left the pizza, made-to-order pasta, made-to-order stir fry, carved to order meat and other entrees and side dishes for another day. The show sounded like it would be a good one, but we decided to walk on the deck in the moonlight instead.
TUESDAY: Bar Harbor, Maine was a tender port. Since we didn’t have a tour booked, we took our time and took a later tender into town. We strolled the streets a bit and then decided to book a tour to Acadia National Park. It was drizzling on and off, but the tour managed to get us up to the top of Cadillac Mountain for a spectacular view. We followed a wonderful road around the park and stopped at Thunder Hole
and Jordan Pond House for some great views of the sea and the park.
On our return to Bar Harbor, we enjoyed the colorful shopping district and harbor. I purchased some wonderful wild-blueberry fudge to take home and some “Made in Maine” souvenirs. We tendered back to the ship and, after sailing through the harbor, we made our way to the cafe again for a “well-rounded” dinner.
WEDNESDAY: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada – Today it was quite warm out and we really enjoyed a stroll along the boardwalk where the shops, restaurants and maritime sites
are located. There are benches amid beautiful floral displays, statuary and street entertainers, such as a fiddler, a bagpiper and a guitarist. Although Peggy Cove with its famous lighthouse and the charming fishing village of Lunenburg are nearby, we opted to just stay in the city and discover its own treasures this time around. There are beautiful Churches, government buildings and historical landmarks. One such landmark is an old cemetery we discovered with monuments from the mid 1700s to the mid 1800s between two historic Churches. Many houses close to the harbor are designated as historical sites by the Canada Trust. After almost a full day of sightseeing, we took advantage of the free WiFi at both the Farmers Market and the historic pier building. And while we were there, we also did a little more shopping in the pier building which is probably the best place for quality Nova Scotia souvenirs. There is also a museum in the building and an art gallery across the street. We passed a picturesque lighthouse on the small island across the harbor as our ship left port heading towards our next destination. After another dinner in the cafe, at our favorite outdoor table, we went to the show to see a couple who has worked with Cirque du Soleil. They were talented and put on a very funny show, one which made me laugh until tears were rolling down my cheeks. With a dish of ice cream for dessert, another splendid day comes to a quiet end for us (by choice, of course)
THURSDAY: Sydney, Nova Scotia – It was our first time visiting Sydney. We were greeted by a fiddler at the pier upon our arrival into port. The first thing you notice is the giant fiddle, paying homage to the heritage of most of the inhabitants of Cape Breton, the island on which Sidney is located. The next thing you notice is the genuine warmth and hospitality of the people. They are down to earth and friendly and really make you feel welcome and right at home.
The people of Nova Scotia have always been there in times of need. They were there for the families and survivors of the Titlanic and more recently, when the awful events of 9-11- 2001 occurred, and all the US airspace was closed, the people of Nova Scotia went to the airports and met the frightened Americans whose flights were diverted there and took them into their homes, fed them, let them call their loved ones in the states and gave them comfort. My favorite part of being in Sidney was browsing the craft mall at the pier and discovering their warmth and charm. They were genuinely happy and loved to tell the stories behind their wares, from sea glass to petrified wood, from fishing to coal mining. They joked about being good crafters and artists because they have long winters during which to perfect their skills.
A walk along the seaside boardwalk was relaxing, but I will never forget just being among the people there. As we left the shore, a bagpiper played tunes for us at the dock. Back on the Summit, after a filling meal in the cafe, we had special entertainment. Celebrity has an arrangement with Broadway wherein stage personalities perform on their ships. Andrea McArdle, the original “Annie” and a veteran of the Broadway theater scene performed some of her favorite pieces, including “Tomorrow”. Afterwards, there was a meet and greet session with her outside the theater. Now we will end our day. Tomorrow we will visit with another famous red-headed Anne!
FRIDAY: Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island – Apparently we hit the end of a tropical storm and it has been pouring rain in the city. But as luck would have it, I decided to make the best of things and I booked into a tour to “Green Gables” and the surrounding area. Why mention luck? Because it wasn’t raining in “Avonlea”, nor at Cavendish Beach.
Even though it was raining on the way to both places and coming down very hard for our third stop at the PEI Preserves store. Getting back on track – the Ann of Green Gables site pays homage to Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of the Ann of Green Gables books. It includes the farm of Montgomery’s uncle at which she spent some of her childhood and which inspired her writing. I toured the barn, the house, the gardens and took a walk down “Lover’s Lane” , but I did not venture into the “Haunted Woods”. We also passed the “Lake of Shimmering Waters”. From there we went to Cavendish Beach with its dramatic red cliffs before our final stop at the preserves shop, famous for its raspberry pie.
Finally, we had a quick tour from the bus of some of the historic buildings of Charlottetown, the city where Canada became a nation. It looked like a very beautiful city and one I hope to visit again in the future. As our ship left the port, a fog rolled in and we sailed past a lonely lighthouse on a small island which looked very romantic in its veil of mist. Fortunately, the captain seems to be navigating around rough water and soon we will be in the calm waters of the St. Lawrence River. After dinner, I went to tonight’s show – a comedian who did voices for Disney Animated Features. Tears in my eyes said it all – it was clean and very funny! Now we are going to sleep with the sound of the ships foghorn and I rather like it!
SATURDAY– At Sea – I pretty much just sat on deck and watched the scenery go by on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. I did catch some of the enrichment lectures which were being replayed on the television. I also went to a talk given by the Staff Captain (second in command) about the ships propulsion system. Although a bit technical, I still found it very interesting and I’m glad I went. I It was our second formal night tonight and in the Cosmopolitan Dining room, we sat with new people.
One couple was from England and was on board to surprise their daughter who was one of the lead singers in the ship’s cast of performers. It was fun to see how excited they all were. We did pop in to see the show, Sirens, which was set “underwater” and was filled with music and dancing. We feel well rested and ready to take on Quebec City for two days! (And I”m trying not to think that my trip is already half over! Having such a nice time, it seems to be flying by!)
SUNDAY: Quebec City, Quebec – We docked a little bit further than was planned by the cruise line, but they provided complimentary shuttle buses to get us within walking distance to the old city of Quebec. The overnight stay in Quebec was one of the main things that attracted me to this itinerary and so far, it is living up to my expectations. What a beautiful city, with old world charm not found in too many North American cities, if any. Having visited France, this port shows definite similarities in so many ways.
Of course, this is the heart and soul of French Canada. English is definitely the second language here. But that only adds to its ambiance. We started out visiting the very beautiful Notre Dame de Victoire Church and then we took the funicular up to the walled city, dominated by the very impressive Chateau Frontenac hotel. The city streets are lined with shops and restaurants, mostly constructed with local stone and decked out with colorful flowers, awnings and roofs. There are horse and carriage rides, 40 minutes for $90 which give a nice tour of the old city. There are great views of the St. Lawrence from several vantage points.
You can be entertained by various street performers. We made good use of the many squares complete with statues and gardens. We took the funicular back down to the lower city, outside of the walls and then returned to the ship for a nice dinner. Tomorrow, we will see all the sights we missed today. How wonderful to be on our floating hotel docked in such a spectacular setting, with no deadlines tonight and no worries about times to go ashore tomorrow.
MONDAY: Quebec City – Day 2 – We couldn’t ask for a better day to be in picturesque Quebec. The sky is the most beautiful shade of blue with hardly a cloud in sight. I made the most of it by taking lots of photos.
Instead of the Funicular we took the “ECOBUS” up to the old city today. It also was a way to see a bit of the area without having to walk. We walked along the inside of the walls and got to the Battlefield Park, a beautiful, enormous oasis overlooking the St. Lawrence and adjacent to Citadel. How sad it is that such a lovely and tranquil pasture was the site of one of the bloodiest massacres in North America’s history – the Plains of Abraham where the British defeated the French. This event is still memorialized in French Canada. In fact, the license plates for the province of Quebec read “Je Me Souviens” (I remember) referring to the the entire phrase ” I remember the Plains of Abraham”. We wound our way through stone gates and cobblestone streets taking in all the sights and sounds – musicians and the clippity clop of the horse-drawn carriages.
We viewed government buildings and Churches and the old stone buildings now home to art galleries, shops and restaurants for the most part. We paused in quiet squares filled with statues and flowers. After touring for the good part of the day, we walked the street that leads down the hill towards the port. As the ship left, I vowed that I will return to this colorful and historic city, which really seems to be the highlight of the cruise. After a good meal in the Cosmopolitan dining room, we were hosted by the ship’s officers at a cocktail party for Select and Elite members of the Captain’s Club Loyalty program. It was a nice way to cap off another good day on board the Summitt.
TUESDAY: At Sea – Relaxing all day on the top deck. Weather and sunshine and sea air too beautiful to waste. We ate dinner in the Cosmopolitan dining room and we enjoyed every bite, including the extra creme brulee the waiter brought us. Probably will take a stroll on deck instead of the show tonight. With less than a week of the cruise left, I want to get all my relaxing in!
WEDNESDAY: Gaspe, Quebec -It was a very relaxing day in Gaspe. It is a popular destination for people of the surrounding area as a summer retreat. They say they come for the fishing, camping and just getting away from it all. One needs to be prepared for that kind of an atmosphere when it is a port of call for a cruise. The big draw is the excursion through the park system and the visit to Perce Rock.
We opted not to take these excursions as the bus and/or train ride to get there takes longer than we wanted to spend so we walked around the harbor a bit, sat at a local pub and then headed back to the ship. The ship was anchored in a beautiful harbor so it was very peaceful and picturesque. As we left, we sailed around the northern tip of the peninsula and viewed the famous Perce Rock with the arch in it, that was formed by the waves. We enjoyed another great dinner in the Cosmopolitan dining room and after a quick stroll on the deck, we are going to check out some of the enrichment lectures that we missed which are being shown on TV.
THURSDAY: Day at Sea – What more can I say than I spent a full day relaxing on board and watching for whales! I could see some spouting off in the distance. We saw something jumping out of the water, but we just saw little splashes so they weren’t dolphins. I guess it will stay a mystery, but it was something that kept our attention for a while. It is amazing how when we have the time to enjoy life, life itself is a matter of enjoyment! Simple pleasures like looking at fish and the water, sky, clouds etc. become very interesting and enjoyable. After a day on a lounge chair on the top deck, we changed for our final formal dinner. We ate lobster and a hazelnut mousse cake which was out of this world! I got some of my packing done in between things so I don’t have to spoil my last day in the cabin dealing with it. A walk in the moonlight and off to get in a good night’s sleep.
FRIDAY: Day at Sea – It was a beautiful, warm sunny day at sea and I made the most of it, sitting on a lounge chair on the top deck in the sun again. A perfect ending to our 2-weeks aboard the Summitt. This is one vacation that I am leaving well-rested and recharged. I’ve finished packing and put my suitcases outside of the door to be off the ship and screened by US customs first thing in the morning when we have docked. Then we will go for our last desserts and/or ice cream in the cafe before turning in for a good night sleep. Tomorrow, back to reality and we will start to plan our next vacation, because life is too short not to enjoy our beautiful world!
(I just want to let you know, back at home, 2 days after returning, I was happy to find that I didn’t gain an ounce. It’s good to know that the exercise I got, mostly just wandering around in the ports at a leisurely pace, was enough to work off the the extra food in which I indulged!)