I went on a cruise! Actually, it was the same as the last (and first) cruise I went on, just in reverse (and with a Montreal stop at the beginning instead of an overnight in Quebec City at the end). Different ship this time (the Maasdam instead of the Veendam) and different people (friends instead of parents), but it was just as awesome as last time.
We traveled to Montreal on Thursday via Porter Airlines, which recently added a flight to Pittsburgh. It went through the Toronto City Airport, which is pretty much the best airport ever. The entire airport is like 3 gates, and has a large, comfortable waiting area with free refreshments (water, soda, tea, cookies, and snack mix)!
The flights were also pretty awesome. They were smaller propeller planes, but well-serviced by a friendly crew, and included free wine (red or white) served in real glasses, and a nice snack selection (Terra chips, almonds, and shortbread). In a lot of ways, it was nicer than Southwest, which I generally hold up as a great example of airplane travel.
Montreal itself was fine. We had all of Friday to explore the city, and spent it wandering. I hadn’t been there before (the last cruise stopped at Quebec City), but it was a nice time.
We got on the boat on Saturday, and the fun (and infinite food) commenced. The first stop the next day was Quebec City. Given that we’d had an overnight there on the last cruise, I opted to remain on the boat the whole day and enjoy sitting around, eating, and sitting in the pool. It was pretty awesome.
After that, it was a day on the boat, cruising the Saint Lawrence River. There was an interesting thing when a passenger had to be disembarked for a medical emergency. They contacted the coast guard, who came with a boat to receive the passenger in a lifeboat. Naturally, we’re all voyeurs, so everyone stood on the deck watching the crew lower the lifeboat. More interesting, though, was that the coast guard boat itself had an emergency onboard while waiting for the lifeboat, and had to return to shore. As far as I know, the person was fine, so the issue was apparently not super time-sensitive, but it was still an interesting thing.
The next day was Charlottetown. I remembed Charlottetown last time as being one of my favorite stops, due to all the Canadian history there. It was a little less good this time (had already seen Founder’s Hall, and Province House was closed for renovations. Still, we managed to see some interesting buildings (including an old historic house) and got Cow’s ice cream.
The next stop was supposed to be Sydney, but the winds proved too much and the ship had to skip the stop due to being unable to make a safe docking. This worked out just fine for me: I hadn’t been planning on leaving the ship anyway, and there really isn’t that much to do in Sydney outside of the (expensive) shore excursions. Yubin’s bird-watching tour had already been cancelled due to early bird migration. Instead, we spent the day on the ship, eating and enjoying the pool. The bonus was the free sparking wine from the captain due to missing the stop, plus a refund of the port fees on our ship statement.
After that was a stop in Halifax. I stayed on the boat in the morning and got to watch a crew emergency drill, which was actually pretty interesting.
I mostly wanted to see the Citadel, so Max, Yubin, and I made the trek up there in the afternoon. It (and the views) were as nice as I remember, and it was free due to the Canada 150 celebration, to boot.
The final stop was Bar Harbor, where I spent the morning exploring the town and taking a trolley tour up to Cadillac Mountain.
After that, it was sailing to Boston and disembarking, followed by a 12.5-hour drive back to Pittsburgh. I got to drive in Pittsburgh for the first time that evening to finagle some stuff with getting a bike home, so that was also interesting.
Overall, the trip was awesome, and full of delicious food and friends and a daily dip into the pool. I also got to do a lot of relaxing and lounging around, while still having opportunities to go explore cities and landmarks as desired. I remain convinced that cruising is mostly the ideal vacation for me. :D
Tons more photos of everything are up at photos.