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Canada & New England: Bar Harbor


dbrown84
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Hello. I've only taken Caribbean cruises.  I'm looking to do a last minute cruise in August and the cruise to Canada & New England from NY best fits my schedule.  I don't know anything about any of the stops (Portland, Bar Harbor, St. Johns, Halifax), and don't recall seeing posts about these stops here on CC.  So, I'm taking the lazy way out, and asking folks here that have taken a cruise in these parts about their opinions.  I'm taking a vacation the last week in August no matter what, and I was choosing between a stay-cation, a week in Atlantic City and a week in Vegas.  I can take this cruise for about the same price as a flight to Vegas ($350), so it's now on my list.

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42 minutes ago, dbrown84 said:

Hello. I've only taken Caribbean cruises ... don't know anything about any of the stops (Portland, Bar Harbor, St. Johns, Halifax) ... the last week in August no matter what, and I was choosing between a stay-cation, a week in Atlantic City and a week in Vegas 

 

Bar Harbor is the one & only tender port, about 30 minutes each way with the line to join the herd & get off at the pier.  Excellent lobsters/rolls on the waterfront & you can look into tours via NCL or private ones at very competitive (and better) prices.  Portland, St. John & Halifax will be docked at the berth, waterfront & downtown are either a short 10 to 15 minutes walk or a quick shuttle/Uber ride.  We're on the Joy last September, except didn't have a planned stop at Bar Harbor (can be a pain with the big ships and especially if this stop is on the return, likely need for everyone to clear US-CBP before being allowed to tender ashore) - if you follow the underlined link before, you will see photos & some of the places we visited a year ago ... also did one pre-Covid on the Dawn.  

 

Weather - check the forecast before finalizing your packing - should be good, have a light windproof jacket & maybe a fleece or vest, just in case - walking shoes & a (refillable) water bottle.  I'm guessing it's likely going to be the Joy ?? unless NCL got one being launched out of Baltimore.  With a busy port schedule, it will keep your occupied & busy, enjoy dining & you don't need to play at all onboard.  Cheers. 

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2 minutes ago, mking8288 said:

 

Bar Harbor is the one & only tender port, about 30 minutes each way with the line to join the herd & get off at the pier.  Excellent lobsters/rolls on the waterfront & you can look into tours via NCL or private ones at very competitive (and better) prices.  Portland, St. John & Halifax will be docked at the berth, waterfront & downtown are either a short 10 to 15 minutes walk or a quick shuttle/Uber ride.  We're on the Joy last September, except didn't have a planned stop at Bar Harbor (can be a pain with the big ships and especially if this stop is on the return, likely need for everyone to clear US-CBP before being allowed to tender ashore) - if you follow the underlined link before, you will see photos & some of the places we visited a year ago ... also did one pre-Covid on the Dawn.  

 

Weather - check the forecast before finalizing your packing - should be good, have a light windproof jacket & maybe a fleece or vest, just in case - walking shoes & a (refillable) water bottle.  I'm guessing it's likely going to be the Joy ?? unless NCL got one being launched out of Baltimore.  With a busy port schedule, it will keep your occupied & busy, enjoy dining & you don't need to play at all onboard.  Cheers. 

WOW.  30 minute tender.  It's the Escape out of NY.  NCL just started leaving out of Baltimore and I'll look to do one from there in the future since it's home for me, but the Bmore cruises on this itinerary is not round trip at this point and it's on the smaller ship (the sky)

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@dbrown84  Assuming you have priority tendering or booked on a NCL shorex, you can then head down to Deck 4 (usual for Escape's tender dock platform) with the lined already formed & proceed ... 5 to 10 minutes aren't unusual by itself, for the next available (think GSC private island) lifeboat - don't believe larger tenders are available or used.  NCL ship will be using their own "smaller" lifeboat - easily 10 minutes, if not more, to fill up before it can leave for shore.  A quick, simple & easy ride ... another 5 to 10 minutes to be secured at the dock, and by the time everyone is cleared for zero count & ashore ... it's another 5 to 10 minutes, if not more.   Looking at no less than 30 to 40 minutes each way, assuming harbor conditions are calm, smooth seas and not windy ... and there's minimal vertical movement between the tender gangway and steps down/up from the tender lifeboat, ship's safety crew watching on both ends just in case.  That is what it is like, sorry ... Escape (Joy) etc. probably sailing at or close to capacity, it's going to take a while to get all the cruisers that wish to go ashore to "shuttle" via the tender.  Then, reversed on the afternoon return ... lines get pretty long when busload returned & get dropped off, usually moving along at a good pace.  Haven & suites get escorted with their shortcut to access ... all others, join the regular queue to board the big ship.  

 

It's a very scenic harbour & beauty town, even if you don't want to or plan to do any land tours, shops & restaurants, bars, etc. are all within a 8 to 10 city blocks area, with a slight uphill - good & comfortable walking shoes ... ditto, true for other 3 ports.  Enjoy & have fun - don't miss BH's fresh lobster rolls.  

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All these ports are easy to DIY; no excursions needed.  We have done this itinerary a number of times, and always enjoy it.  I first researched the ports by looking for the city websites, which gave me lots of good info.  Please note, it is Saint John, not St. Johns.

There is also a lot of info here on the C/NE board; you can learn a lot by just reading through the posts in which others have asked similar questions.

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When we were in Bar Harbor, NCL used some local bigger boats for the tender, as well as their lifeboats.I toon this same cruise at the end of Oct in 2022. It was the last sailing of the season and we lucked out with the weather being so nice. 
 

All great places. I did research and ate locally but took ship excursions. Peggy’s Cove is beautiful. Lots of local places for lobster roll. The walking tour of Bar Harbor was nice. Although on an earlier sailing, I took the small group tour to Acadia park which was nice too. Research this board and other sites too. If you can, eat locally.

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Bar Harbor is a great town. Unfortunately for cruisers, they don't want cruise ships in their waters. While the ships used to anchor close enough to the pier, now they are "hidden" behind the island so can only be seen from atop Cadillac Mountain. This does result in a longer tender ride. NCL will use both their tenders and a local boat. Part of the delay on the tender is waiting for a parking spot to open, either at the pier, or back to the ship. 

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My husband and I, and two other couples, are on the cruise you're talking about.  We've done it a few times.  As previously mentioned, Bar Harbor is the only tender port.  It is an absolutely beautiful picture postcard perfect New England seaside town.  No need to book an excursion if you want to stroll around; there's plenty to see and do.  Nevertheless, I would still encourage you to consider taking a tour/excursion and check out Acadia National Park; it's absolutely beautiful.  And you'll still have time to see the sites afterward on your own.

 

Portland is nice, with things to see near the port.  Same with Halifax, with an added bonus of a pretty lively boardwalk.  St. John is ok, not quite as nice, a bit more industrial, but you can still walk around for a couple of hours.  

As another poster said, bring along a light jacket or sweatshirt.  We've gone in late August every time and I do recall a couple of chilly, drizzly days.  And on one particular evening, it got FOGGY onboard the ship, which I admittedly thought was kind of cool.  After a couple of cocktails, I found myself strolling the deck, quoting Adrienne Barbeau in The Fog.

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