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Bruin Steve

What to do in the ports: Quebec, PEI, Sydney, Halifax, Bar Harbor

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We are doing our first cruise to this region in late July on HAL. All of the ports are new to us. And we are doing it all five days after returning home from a 3 week + Med back-to-back cruise trip--so, I've been spending so much time planning that one that I haven't spent much time looking into this one yet.

 

To complicate matters, we are going with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law--and they are looking to me to do much of the planning. We prefer to do private small group tours--don't really like the cruise line shorex big bus thing all that much--though it does make planning and logistics easier. Though my wife likes to see as much as possible, her sister prefers to do shorter tours.

 

Here is the itinerary (and notes):

 

July 22 Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Depart: 4:00 PM (We actually fly in 3 nights early and are staying at the Springhill in Old Montreal. I assume, with that much time, Montreal is a town we can explore on our own?

 

July 23 Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

Arrive: 7:00 AM Depart: 5:00 PM (HAL offers 3-4 hour walking tours from $50-70 pp, a 4 hour trip to the Falls for $100 and a full day tour of the city and falls for $145. There have got to be some good private alternatives with pick-up at the ship, no?)

 

July 24 Cruising Gulf of St. Lawrence

 

July 25 Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Arrive: 8:00 AM Depart: 5:00 PM (HAL offers 4.5-7 hour island tours for $120-130 and a 4 hour coast, lighthouse and wine tasting tour for $80. Nothing sounds all that exciting...but, of course, I don't know the place)

 

July 26 Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada

Arrive: 8:00 AM Depart: 4:00 PM (a HAL 2-hour walking tour is $40, the longer tours are all in the $150-180 price range

 

July 27 Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Arrive: 8:00 AM Depart: 4:00 PM (Peggy's Cove and Titanic Cemetery?)

 

July 28 Bar Harbor, Maine, US

Arrive: 8:00 AM Depart: 5:00 PM (I guess we should see Acadia National Park here, no? HAL has shorexes from 2.5 to 4 hours in the $50-100 price range--that $100 includes a lobster bake)

 

July 29 Boston, Massachusetts, US

Arrive: 7:00 AM

 

So, any recommendations? Just keep it simple and try to pick from the shorexes? Or any private tour companies that blow these away? Or are any of these ports so simple that we can stumble off the ship and wander around on our own? Anything we absolutely should not miss?

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Hi, wonderful itinerary ahead of you.

Montreal yes would be good to do your own tour with a guide book and take in all the sights.

Quebec the Monmercy Falls is a lovely tour and also lovely city to wander around.

Sydney Nova Scotia the Alexander Graham Bell museum is excellent, and surrounding country lovely.

Halifax as you mention Peggy's Cove and Titanic museum again excellent.

Boston the freedom trail walk is really interesting

 

Can't give you any recommendation for tour guides as we took ships excursions the twice that we took similar cruise.

Have a great cruise. Jean.

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Or are any of these ports so simple that we can stumble off the ship and wander around on our own?

 

That would be Quebec City :). You will dock right in the heart of Old Quebec, albeit in Lower Town so a fairly big hill to climb to get to the larger Upper Town, but you can always take the funicular up. Absolutely no need for a tour.

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We walk in every port .In Quebec City we visited the Chateau Frontenac ,in PEI we went to a casino and several museums.

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In Bar Harbor, you can get tours of Acadia National Park from private companies for $30 a person. The companies that I know of are Arcadia National Park Tours and Oli's Trolley Tours. Both cover about the same areas. No lobster bake included though.

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We are doing our first cruise to this region in late July on HAL. All of the ports are new to us. And we are doing it all five days after returning home from a 3 week + Med back-to-back cruise trip--so, I've been spending so much time planning that one that I haven't spent much time looking into this one yet.

 

To complicate matters, we are going with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law--and they are looking to me to do much of the planning. We prefer to do private small group tours--don't really like the cruise line shorex big bus thing all that much--though it does make planning and logistics easier. Though my wife likes to see as much as possible, her sister prefers to do shorter tours.

 

Here is the itinerary (and notes):

 

July 22 Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Depart: 4:00 PM (We actually fly in 3 nights early and are staying at the Springhill in Old Montreal. I assume, with that much time, Montreal is a town we can explore on our own?

 

July 23 Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

Arrive: 7:00 AM Depart: 5:00 PM (HAL offers 3-4 hour walking tours from $50-70 pp, a 4 hour trip to the Falls for $100 and a full day tour of the city and falls for $145. There have got to be some good private alternatives with pick-up at the ship, no?)

 

July 24 Cruising Gulf of St. Lawrence

 

July 25 Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Arrive: 8:00 AM Depart: 5:00 PM (HAL offers 4.5-7 hour island tours for $120-130 and a 4 hour coast, lighthouse and wine tasting tour for $80. Nothing sounds all that exciting...but, of course, I don't know the place)

 

July 26 Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada

Arrive: 8:00 AM Depart: 4:00 PM (a HAL 2-hour walking tour is $40, the longer tours are all in the $150-180 price range

 

July 27 Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Arrive: 8:00 AM Depart: 4:00 PM (Peggy's Cove and Titanic Cemetery?)

 

July 28 Bar Harbor, Maine, US

Arrive: 8:00 AM Depart: 5:00 PM (I guess we should see Acadia National Park here, no? HAL has shorexes from 2.5 to 4 hours in the $50-100 price range--that $100 includes a lobster bake)

 

July 29 Boston, Massachusetts, US

Arrive: 7:00 AM

 

So, any recommendations? Just keep it simple and try to pick from the shorexes? Or any private tour companies that blow these away? Or are any of these ports so simple that we can stumble off the ship and wander around on our own? Anything we absolutely should not miss?

 

In case it helps or gives you some ideas here are the videos I made from a very similar itinerary, with everything done on our own, hiring taxis at $60 per hour at Halifax and PEI (3 hours each day). At Sydney we probably made a mistake not going away from port because there's nothing there All the best, Tony

 

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While our roll call is less than active there are some great private group excursions on it. Check on the April 21 Holland America Veendam roll call.

 

There are "Free walking tours" available in Quebec City. Do an internet search. We did one of these on our prior visit and it was great! Take the funicular or the dollar bus to the top of the hill and the tour walks all around and ends in the old city near the ship.

 

There are a number of private tour guides on PEI. This trip I am renting a van and six of us from the roll call are going to have "Fun with Falcons." PEI is very pretty.

 

Sydney you are in port a good amount of time. If you like history Louisbourg is worth the trip. You can rent a car and do it on your own for much less than the big bus excursion.

 

Halifax has many private options. Oli's trolley is a great introduction to Bar Harbor and Acadia. Make sure you have time to walk around the town.

 

Have a great cruise!

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Will be watching the responses to your question for the ports we have not been to.

 

We had a separate land trip that took is to Boston and Bar Harbor. Two ends of the spectrum. Bar Harbor is small and tough to do more than touristy things. The town is very walkable and has several cafes for a nice lunch.

 

Boston is not as big as LA, but has some of the same issues. If you stay downtown you won't need a car to get around. The transit system can get you around. If you want an American History side trip Lexington and Concord are a short drive away.

 

In Boston- go down to the Boston Common and hire a guide for the Freedom Trail walking Tour. Nice slow pace, and lots of history in a couple of hours. If you are a baseball fan you MUST try to go to Fenway Park. If I remember correctly you start in Boston the day we get off the Maasdam, and the Red Sox are out of town. Check the schedule, but you can at least take a day time tour through this great cathedral to baseball.

 

If you want to see a school almost as good as UCLA you can take a tour of Harvard Yard......close but it doesn't quite match up......Go Bruins!

 

 

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If I remember correctly you start in Boston the day we get off the Maasdam, and the Red Sox are out of town. Check the schedule, but you can at least take a day time tour through this great cathedral to baseball.

 

If you want to see a school almost as good as UCLA you can take a tour of Harvard Yard......close but it doesn't quite match up......Go Bruins!

 

Actually, we are two weeks after you...So, we also start in Montreal...on the 22nd...

We are going to skip Boston and fly right home that day...It's okay, we've been a couple of times before--and toured Harvard...with my older daughter when she was considering it for graduate school (She chose Columbia instead). When we were there, it was under several feet of snow...but, I got the best Priceline deal ever--a Suite at the Doubletree in Boston for $30 per night! I think they were having trouble filling rooms due to the weather... and I've been to Fenway as well...

 

It looks like we may be settling on doing the Acadia Tour with Acadia National Park Tours (unless there's a compelling reason to spend $5 more per person to go with Oli's) and a private tour in Halifax. Likely do a coastal and winery trip via a private provider on PEI. Still trying to figure out Sydney and Quebec...

 

I've been to Sydney...Opera House, Bridge...Oh wait...WRONG Sydney! :)

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Wrong Sydney, that Captain would be in a LOT of trouble!

 

Tom's Port Guides on the internet provides a lot of information- but I can't firsthand knowledge. National Park is pretty, but not much history/insight.

 

 

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Thanks to everyone for the recommendations and suggestions. It looks like, after much deliberation and compromise (hard pleasing four people with four different sets of views), here is what we ended up with:

 

QUEBEC CITY Arrive: 7:00 AM Depart: 5:00 PM

We are doing a Shorex here: “A Walk through Old Quebec & Wine Tasting” $69.95 per person, 3 Hours

A nice little walking tour through Old Quebec that ends up with a wine tasting…and my wife and her sister love wine tastings…We could have done this on our own…or with a cheaper local tour, but I’m okay with this one. Since it doesn’t leave until 1:00 pm, my wife and I might walk around the port area in the morning, then return to the ship for lunch, then the tour…

 

CHARLOTTETOWN, Prince Edward Island Arrive: 8:00 AM Depart: 5:00 PM

Here we are doing a private tour with a well-reviewed local guide: “Lighthouses and Winery” tour--5 hrs. The ship offers a very similar tour with one less lighthouse…and this one ends up being cheaper and we will have only the four of us fitting comfortably in a van built for six passengers rather than a 40+ person busload.

 

SYDNEY, Nova Scotia Arrive: 8:00 AM Depart: 4:00 PM

Our second cruise line shorex here: “Relive History at the Fortress of Louisbourg” $84.95 4 Hours

My brother-in-law is a history buff and this one was his call. Sounds sort of interesting to me too. I see where it might have been done “on our own” by renting a car, but the rest of my party feels better if it’s packaged into a tour for us.

 

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia Arrive: 8:00 AM Depart: 4:00 PM

Here we found a local provider with a 5-6 hour tour of Halifax and Peggy’s Cove. Price is way better than anything the cruise line offers…and, again, just the four of us—much better than a packed big bus. Plus, we can customize some of the Halifax portion to our liking.

 

BAR HARBOR, Maine Arrive: 8:00 AM Depart: 5:00 PM

We’re doing the 10:00 am tour with Acadia National Park Tours-- 2.5 to 3 hours. Well-priced at $30 pp plus tax. Doing it at 10:00 am leaves us plenty of time to grab a bite to eat for lunch and walk around town on our own afterwards.

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We're doing the HAL Louisbourg tour this May as well. I think you'll really enjoy the site. We rented a car with friends when we went a couple years ago, and we ended up spending hours out there. We were there during the high season, and the place was filled with costumed recreators who loved interacting with the visitors. I would recommend renting a car so you could have more time at the site, but I understand wanting to leave the driving to someone else. We're doing the HAL excursion this year because we're going during a time that few, if any, recreators will be at the site. Enjoy!

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While doing your tour of Charlottetown, be sure to leave an hour or so to spend time at Green Gables. This is a fascinating look into an early 20th Century farm. And it is more than likely a book your wife and S-I-L read when they were younger. People all over the world plan a vacation to PEI simply to visit this site.

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Thanks to everyone for the recommendations and suggestions. It looks like, after much deliberation and compromise (hard pleasing four people with four different sets of views), here is what we ended up with:

 

QUEBEC CITY Arrive: 7:00 AM Depart: 5:00 PM

We are doing a Shorex here: “A Walk through Old Quebec & Wine Tasting” $69.95 per person, 3 Hours

A nice little walking tour through Old Quebec that ends up with a wine tasting…and my wife and her sister love wine tastings…We could have done this on our own…or with a cheaper local tour, but I’m okay with this one. Since it doesn’t leave until 1:00 pm, my wife and I might walk around the port area in the morning, then return to the ship for lunch, then the tour…

 

CHARLOTTETOWN, Prince Edward Island Arrive: 8:00 AM Depart: 5:00 PM

Here we are doing a private tour with a well-reviewed local guide: “Lighthouses and Winery” tour--5 hrs. The ship offers a very similar tour with one less lighthouse…and this one ends up being cheaper and we will have only the four of us fitting comfortably in a van built for six passengers rather than a 40+ person busload.

 

SYDNEY, Nova Scotia Arrive: 8:00 AM Depart: 4:00 PM

Our second cruise line shorex here: “Relive History at the Fortress of Louisbourg” $84.95 4 Hours

My brother-in-law is a history buff and this one was his call. Sounds sort of interesting to me too. I see where it might have been done “on our own” by renting a car, but the rest of my party feels better if it’s packaged into a tour for us.

 

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia Arrive: 8:00 AM Depart: 4:00 PM

Here we found a local provider with a 5-6 hour tour of Halifax and Peggy’s Cove. Price is way better than anything the cruise line offers…and, again, just the four of us—much better than a packed big bus. Plus, we can customize some of the Halifax portion to our liking.

 

BAR HARBOR, Maine Arrive: 8:00 AM Depart: 5:00 PM

We’re doing the 10:00 am tour with Acadia National Park Tours-- 2.5 to 3 hours. Well-priced at $30 pp plus tax. Doing it at 10:00 am leaves us plenty of time to grab a bite to eat for lunch and walk around town on our own afterwards.

 

 

Would you share the information of the private provider in Halifax? Sounds like you have a great plan for each port.

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Thanks to everyone for the recommendations and suggestions. It looks like, after much deliberation and compromise (hard pleasing four people with four different sets of views), here is what we ended up with:

 

QUEBEC CITY Arrive: 7:00 AM Depart: 5:00 PM

We are doing a Shorex here: “A Walk through Old Quebec & Wine Tasting” $69.95 per person, 3 Hours

A nice little walking tour through Old Quebec that ends up with a wine tasting…and my wife and her sister love wine tastings…We could have done this on our own…or with a cheaper local tour, but I’m okay with this one. Since it doesn’t leave until 1:00 pm, my wife and I might walk around the port area in the morning, then return to the ship for lunch, then the tour…

 

CHARLOTTETOWN, Prince Edward Island Arrive: 8:00 AM Depart: 5:00 PM

Here we are doing a private tour with a well-reviewed local guide: “Lighthouses and Winery” tour--5 hrs. The ship offers a very similar tour with one less lighthouse…and this one ends up being cheaper and we will have only the four of us fitting comfortably in a van built for six passengers rather than a 40+ person busload.

 

SYDNEY, Nova Scotia Arrive: 8:00 AM Depart: 4:00 PM

Our second cruise line shorex here: “Relive History at the Fortress of Louisbourg” $84.95 4 Hours

My brother-in-law is a history buff and this one was his call. Sounds sort of interesting to me too. I see where it might have been done “on our own” by renting a car, but the rest of my party feels better if it’s packaged into a tour for us.

 

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia Arrive: 8:00 AM Depart: 4:00 PM

Here we found a local provider with a 5-6 hour tour of Halifax and Peggy’s Cove. Price is way better than anything the cruise line offers…and, again, just the four of us—much better than a packed big bus. Plus, we can customize some of the Halifax portion to our liking.

 

BAR HARBOR, Maine Arrive: 8:00 AM Depart: 5:00 PM

We’re doing the 10:00 am tour with Acadia National Park Tours-- 2.5 to 3 hours. Well-priced at $30 pp plus tax. Doing it at 10:00 am leaves us plenty of time to grab a bite to eat for lunch and walk around town on our own afterwards.

 

Ok, Bruin Steve:

 

How was the cruise? Comments on tours and companies would be much appreciated as we will be going next year!

 

Thanks.

 

Pooh

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Ok, Bruin Steve: How was the cruise? Comments on tours and companies would be much appreciated as we will be going next year! Thanks. Pooh

 

The cruise was nice, pleasant, very laid back. It was our first on Holland America...and we are probably not going back that soon. Service and food were good, cabin was roomy and comfortable...But ship was incredibly dull...very little on the schedule, even on "at sea" day. Would have been okay if we were just going to kick back on the balcony by ourselves and read a book...except we had no balcony...the Maasdam has no real balcony cabins until you move up to what they term (and price) as a "suite"...

 

But, we really didn't take this one for the ship or cruise line, we took it for the itinerary...

 

And the itinerary was very nice...

 

Montreal was a nice starting point...we stayed an extra three days pre-cruise at the Springhill Suites Old Montreal...which was an excellent choice...Walking distance from the dock...and right off Rue Saint Paul--which is the incredibly touristy street with all of the bars, restaurants and nightlife...

 

Quebec City was far more picturesque and interesting than Montreal...and we wish we had a little more time there. The Shore Excursion we took was nice--gave us a nice little walking tour of the town...If there was an issue with it, it's that it didn't leave the ship until lunch time--which sort of wasted the morning. Would have been better had it left first thing in the morning--in which case we would have had some free time in the city afterwards...But, it was nice...and a small group for a shorex--maybe about 15 or 16 of us total...

 

PEI was fairly nice...Our guide--Harry Moreland from Duncan's Island Tours--was very nice, very personable...picked us up promptly and got us to all of the lighthouses ahead of the big tour buses from the ship...and a visit to a nice little winery for a tasting before a "drive-through" tour of the town...dropping us off at a local restaurant for a short walk back to the ship past some gift shops...

 

Sydney: My wife really enjoyed Louisbourg...It is a site similar to, say, Historic Williamsburg in Virginia...a lot recreations of colonial life, people in period costume talking about colonial life in various houses and buildings, recreations of military drills and cannon firings by fake soldiers... The town and fortress are nicely restored and picturesque...and you can buy a small loaf of some really horrendous--but fascinating--period bread in the town bakery--so you know what it was like eating for people leaving there back in the day. You could also go on your own by renting a car...but we opted for the shorex so we didn't have to deal with the logistics...a little worried that we wouldn't have enough time there--but the timing turned out to be just about right...

 

Halifax: Our guide here...from "Halifax Tour Guys" was excellent...very informative, very complete. Only issue was that we were running short of time near the end (largely the fault of someone in our party who insisted on stopping for lunch--and the restaurant was very slow)...so we had minimal time at Peggy's Cove...Of course, when we got to Peggy's Cove, the place was overrun with tour buses and tourists...and it seemed to be the prototypical tourist trap (gift shops, etc.)...still would have liked a little more time there--very picturesque little town. But other stops were interesting--especially the Titanic Cemetery. Definitely recommend doing this one on a private, small group tour.

 

Bar Harbor: Acadia National Park Tours operates out of a restaurant a couple of short blocks up the main shopping street from the pier...and, for $30 pp, well worth the money...nice little drive around the park with a few stops for photos and such...Really enough of a visit...and left ample time to walk through the town, get Lobster Rolls for lunch and go T-Shirt shopping...

 

We did this cruise immediately after returning home from 24 days in the Mediterranean with back-to-back cruises and several nights in Orvieto, Tivoli and Rome...So, after that, this one was rather relaxing...

 

Doing it in July rather than the always-recommended Fall (for the foliage) turned out to be very nice...still very scenic--even with green leaves rather than red/orange...and, perhaps, a lot of the ports were less crowded...

 

I would probably do this again--though maybe with Celebrity rather than HAL if they offer it...

 

Have fun next year...

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In Halifax if you can get to Luninburg It has far more to do than Peggy's cove. It is a UN Heritage site I think it is 20 min past Peggy's cove, but well worth the extra time.

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HALIFAX, Nova Scotia Arrive: 8:00 AM Depart: 4:00 PM

Here we found a local provider with a 5-6 hour tour of Halifax and Peggy’s Cove. Price is way better than anything the cruise line offers…and, again, just the four of us—much better than a packed big bus. Plus, we can customize some of the Halifax portion to our liking.

 

 

 

Would you mind sharing the contact info for the tour company you used in Halifax please [emoji3]

 

 

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Would you mind sharing the contact info for the tour company you used in Halifax please [emoji3]

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://halifaxcruiseshipshoretours.com/

 

 

 

Thanks & sorry. After I posted I saw someone asked a few lines down & you had answered her. Are you on the Celebrity Alaska cruise leaving on June 29 or am I mixing your logon up with someone else?

 

 

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Are you on the Celebrity Alaska cruise leaving on June 29 or am I mixing your logon up with someone else?

 

Yes...that is me as well...

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Yes...that is me as well...

 

 

 

My New England cruise is 3 months after the Alaska cruise so maybe you can give me some great tips when we meet [emoji6]

 

 

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In Halifax if you can get to Luninburg It has far more to do than Peggy's cove. It is a UN Heritage site I think it is 20 min past Peggy's cove, but well worth the extra time.

 

I agree. Lunenburg is well worth visiting and much more interesting than Peggy's Cove, but it seems that everyone wants to see Peggy's Cove, and judging by the fleets of tour buses there, they do.

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In Quebec the Hop On Hop Off bus is very good as well but recommend if you get on it in town you stay on it to compete the full tour then walk around. Depending on when you go and if a lot of tourist are there you may have a hard time getting back on later. I might also add that I went there immediately when we docked and was glad I did because it got very crowded soon after.

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