Monday, October 15, 2012

Bob's Birthday Celebration cruising through New England and Canada

Hi friends,

Today's post is all about our recent cruise to Canada to celebrate Bob's 50th Birthday.  We cruised on NCL's Dawn up the New England coast line to the St. Laurence River and then down through Quebec.  It was beautiful and we had a really fun time.

A few things to tell you about the cruise.   It was fun and super relaxing.  For us it was the perfect blend of things to do and down time to relax.  Probably the best thing about a cruise is that you really don't have to make any decisions or plan anything.  It was especially easy since we just took a limo service from our house to the Boston Cruise Terminal and within 1 hour of home were enjoying a cocktail and relaxing on the ship.

Our cruise attracted mostly retired people.  We were one of the youngest people on the ship (which is kind of funny since Bob is about to turn 50!)  We enjoyed it though.  The retired people on our ship were energetic, friendly and fun, but it wasn't a party all night kind of environment.  That was actually fine with me.  Below are a few photos from the ship itself.  The Dawn was recently renovated and holds @2,200 passengers and another 1,000 crew.

We really enjoyed the entertainment on the ship.  They had all kinds of various musicians on-board and every night there were options of watching 3 or 4 different types of music (celtic, rock, folk, classical) and also a main show in the theater.  There was a fabulous comedian, an illusionist, and a vocal impressionist that we enjoyed in the theater.  It was very nice to sit down enjoy a glass of wine or cocktail, chit chat with some new friends and enjoy the live music.  The food was good, but not memorable, although I'm sure I managed to gain a pound or two simply from eating so much of it!  If you go on NCL, budget some money to dine at the specialty restaurants.  For us, it was worth the slight extra surcharge for the nice atmosphere in the smaller diner areas and the variety of foods offered there.

We enjoyed the stops in the US and Canada.   We started in Boston MA, then stopped in Portland ME, Halifax NS, Charlottetown PEI, Gaspe Quebec, La Baie Quebec and then got off the ship in Quebec City (I'll have another post on Quebec City later this week.)

My favorite stop was  Halifax Nova Scotia.  We rented bikes and rode all around the beautiful city.  There was some fun shopping in the downtown area (I got a new top and running skirt at Lululemon) and we had a nice lunch of sushi in town.  It was cold, but not bitter.  The city had a beautiful city center park and the flowers were all still in bloom.  Halifax had a lot of Titanic memorial things.  I guess many of the people who died in the Titanic were buried in Halifax.  Can you see the little Titanic ship in the pond in the photos below?

They also had a darling tug boat from a children's book.  It was so sweet cruising around the harbor with the big ships.

On most days we would get off the boat in the morning (around 9) and sight see around the area for the day, get some lunch and then before boarding the boat find a local pub and enjoy a beer.  Bob's favorite pub was in Portland Maine at a place called Gritty's.  If you are a beer lover (like my DH) you should try the Halloween ale.  He said it was fabulous.

Some of the ports we stopped at were very small towns, but oh so friendly.  They really went out of their way to make us feel welcome.  Each of the port towns we visited had a welcome center right at the cruise terminal.  Some had samples of local food, all had musicians and dancers and all had free wi-fi.  Bob and I got in the habit of getting off the ship sitting in the welcome center, enjoying the music and catching up on our e-mails, blogs and facebook friends.  Then we'd talk to the visitor center people, get a map of town and head out to explore the town.

All the welcome people were retired.   Isn't this handsome Canadian mountie a riot!
In the small town of La Baie, there were costumed dancers waving to us on our balcony's and urging us to join them in their town.

We also rented bikes on Prince Edward Island.  We biked all over that island and probably clocked over 20 kilometers that day.  The map showed some 'scenic overlooks' but we found that it was pretty industrial and farm land.  We enjoyed the ride, but the best scenery was by the coast with the red clay dirt and lighthouses.

We also stopped at a small town off the St. Laurence river called Gaspe.  Every stop we made further north got colder and colder.  Gaspe started to get quite chilly and they were saying a chance of snow while we were there.  It was a pretty town, but once the rain came we headed back to the welcome center early.

In Gaspe I tried a dish famous in Quebec called Putine.  It was french fries with gravy and cheese curds on it.  It was very tasty but very filling.  I only had about 1/3 of this plate below.  I wonder how many weight watcher points were in that bowl???

To help counter the effects of beer, rich food and desserts I tried to go to the fitness center on the boat every day.  One day I did a yoga class.  Another day I took a cycling/spin class.  The Australian guy who did the class was pretty brutal.  I thought I was going to die a few times and don't tell, but when he said to turn your resistance up 2 or 3 turns I only turned it once.  It was my first class and all!!  Bob took his class another time and realized how out of shape he was!

My dad and his wife Marylu joined us on the cruise.  We really enjoyed having them with us.  Marylu isn't a night owl so she often would head to her cabin after dinner.  My Dad enjoyed the entertainment so he would join us for the show or the musicians.  We would often eat one or two meals a day with them, but then go on our own for part of the day too.  That's what's nice about a cruise.  Everyone can do their own thing but you can all still be together too.  They cruise often but had never cruised with NCL.  They liked the entertainment.  I had to laugh when my dad said that the other cruise lines they go with often have older passengers than we had on our ship!  One of the ships entertainers was talking to Bob one day and said the clientelle of the ships varies a lot by the itinerary.  The Caribbean and Bermuda tours attract a young party crowd.  The Canada route is much more retired people.  I bet it's nice for them to have the variety.  Each group probably has it's own challenges but at least if you do different tours you get some change of pace.

So before I end today's post let me leave you with a cruise director joke.   The cruise director was walking along the top deck of the ship on a windy day.  A senior citizen woman was also out on the top deck.  She was grasping a very fancy hat on her head with both hands because it was windy.  A gust of wind whipped her skirt up in the air exposing her entire lower half.  The cruise director approached her and said 'do you not know that your dress is flying in the wind and all your lower half is showing?'  She said 'sure I know, but Mr., everything down there is 86 years old.  This hat is brand new.'   Yup, we all laughed at that one and several others like it just as bad.

Thanks for visiting my blog today.  Have a great day.


Barb said...

What a great way to celebrate a birthday! You weren't far from me on your eastcoast Canadian tour. I'm in Moncton, NB. Your tour stops are awesome though...some of Canada's prettiest places for sure! Just so you know Poutine uses 0 WW points! Strange thing though since it's the cause of many a puffy Canadian! ;) I love the Mountie dress unique! Happy belated Birthday to Bob :)

Anonymous said...

Nice blog! Great photos! Glad you had fun! Hope your virus gets better soon! Love, Mom

Kimberly Gajewski said...

Beautiful photographs, Linda! You always have such wonderful getaways! I'm glad that you all had such a good time! :D