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TRAVEL WITH BRADLEY! Bradley has always put his clients first and his tours reflect just that. Making travel dreams a reality is his speciality. Follow this blog and he'll take you around the World!

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Day 12 – Quebec City, Quebec

Quebec City

We docked in Quebec City early.  The “Rotterdam, another Holland America vessel was already in port.  Holland America dominates the Fall Canada/New England cruise departures with a number of ships allocated to this route.

I didn’t suggest a specific tour for my passengers today as we are docked next to the Old City and its so easy to navigate on your own.

I started strolling at 9am and didn’t arrive back to the ship until 4pm!  I enjoyed a relaxing lunch break at a fantastic bistro – Boulay – I highly recommend it.  The two course lunch special that I selected was $17.00 – very reasonable for this part of town.   Boulay is rated as one of the best in the city.  I found it quite by accident.  It looked appealing when I saw it and after reading its excellent reviews I had to try it.  I was lucky that they could accommodate me as this restaurant was very full with reservations.  

Other than my lunch break I was basically exploring the rest of the time.  Even my iwatch was impressed – it told me that I broke a personal fitness record today!

Quebec City is beautiful.  It is tastefully decorated for the fall season – many large displays.  Most of the charming boutiques are unique and have a French flair to them.  Yes, I did some shopping between snapping pictures.

I came across my Room Steward on my journey back to the ship.  He had collected a pile of fall coloured leaves and had surrounded himself with them.  I was able to take his picture using his phone so he could share this fall scene with his family.  He then asked me to leave him my email address as he wants to keep in touch.  He is a true gentleman plus he kept my stateroom immaculately clean.

Tonight’s Farewell Dinner on board ship was as excellent as always.

I was very impressed with the Zuiderdam and this cruise itinerary.    A cruise is great way to visit especially Eastern Canada’s ports of call which are all unique and wonderful.  A cruise day visit allows you to explore the main highlights.

The staff onboard the Zuiderdam is excellent.  Most are from Indonesia.  They are very caring and work extremely hard.  The Zuiderdam is in great shape and spotless clean.  The entertainment was diverse and well received.  The cuisine was top notch in all venues and that is so important for a cruiseline.  There was always more than enough variety, everything always arrived hot and typically in a timely manner.  The speciality restaurants are reasonably priced and I thought their cocktails are fairly priced too. There are ample ship board activities offered and daily afternoon tea is a nice touch, so is complimentary replenished fruit in staterooms and even shoe polishing service.  Little extras count.  I therefore look forward to bringing future groups on Holland America vessels.

Pictures to follow…

Day 10 – Saguenay, Quebec

We were late getting into the Saguenay, Quebec port because the winds were so strong.  Needed to use a tug to get us to the pier.

Even with the rain the journey earlier this morning through the fjord was a spectacular one.

Saguenay is an aboriginal words that means, “where the water flows out”.  This area has the most francophone residence in North America.  The population is 147,000.

The visitors centre next at the port featured local entertainers and craftsman.  Due to the weather the local market had to be cancelled.

I walked into this quaint Quebec town where I toured the beautiful Catholic Church and checked out some local shops but the weather continued to deteriorate.  When it started to hail and snow I headed back to the ship.  I was soaked!

The lido deck was packed at lunch as so many stayed on board due to the weather.  

We are lucky that we booked the “La Fabuleuse” theatre in advance for this afternoons activity.  This production has been running for 29 years and is a true spectacle with a cast of a “few hundred” actors who are all volunteers!   The 75 minute show depicted the creation and evolution of the Saguenay.  The production featured many special effects including fire, water, canon shots, fireworks and water cascades.  There were farm animals, MANY horses and vintage cars on stage too.  There are over 1000 costumes.  We were all very impressed!  Its as though Broadway has another home in  Saguenay!  If you are ever in the region I HIGHLY recommend you come to see this production.  The production is only in English when the cruise ships are here – the rest of the performances are done in French.

The weather remains unbelievable.  Imagine the worst wind in the middle of winter and it would be similar to what we experienced today.   Temperatures are below 0F.   The internet connection is very poor I imagine due to the storm – tried to upload some picture for this post with no luck.

We will be heading to Quebec City shortly if the Captain can get the cruise ship away from the pier!

 

 

Day 9 – The St. Lawrence River Transit

Good Day from the St Lawrence River

Today we are enjoying a scenic sea day with commanding views the St. Lawrence River.  There is plenty activity on the river – we have passed a number of freighters – our Captain clips by them at a pretty good pace.

It is cool outside but the sun is shining – temperatures are expected to drop to freezing this evening as we travel to Saguenay and then it is to warm up again before we arrive in Quebec City.  

I kept my passengers good and busy today.  We enjoyed a private tour of the Galley operation.  The executive chef was our host.  This was followed by an entertaining, private backstage tour of the theatre.  We were hosted by two of the production team dancers – a nice looked engaged couple (from Australia and Russia) and the Stage Manager Scott who has had a fascinating career as a dancer with Donny and Marie Osmond, Carol Burnett and Liza Minnelli to name just a few – I “really” enjoyed my interesting conversation with him. 

Most of us caught the end of the Shore Excursion hosts chat about Quebec.  He “described” Canadian poutine as everything you can order at “Kentucky Fried Chicken” mixed together – certainly an odd way to describe it?

Lunch was in the elegant Pinnacle Grill.  What an incredible meal.  The menu featured so many enticing choices it was hard to decide – crab cakes, salmon filet, beef tenderloin, cod – and the desserts oh la la – the presentation was superb too.  This is the upscale speciality restaurant on board.  We all enjoyed the excellent service and delicious cuisine.  My passengers were so pleased with this “Travel With Bradley” surprise.

During the afternoon many attended the chat with the ships Captain while others attended the cooking show (Southern Snacks).

Tonight was the second Gala night and my passengers looked terrific all dressed up.  Most ordered surf and turf as they didn’t want to pass up the lobster.

The main stage show that followed was very good.

Was another fun day!

Day 8 – Charlottetown, PEI

Day 8 – Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

It was another spectacular sunset last night.  How lucky we are.  I sat in the Crows Nest on the Zuiderdam to watch it.   The comfortable leather chair with foot stool was so comfy it would have be easy to fall asleep….  I haven’t cruised on this ship for a while so this is my first experience in the “newly revamped” Crows Nest.  It’s located on the 10th Deck forward so there are commanding views.  In the past it was primarily  a lounge – now its a multi-purpose space – lounge, library, card playing, puzzle area and home of Shore Excursions Desk – dominated by a couple large video monitors with high tech information about the ships current location.  

Eastern Canada easily draws you in.  Its probably the combination of a more relaxed way of life (in comparison to Ontario), beautiful scenery and the friendly locals.

Charlottetown has a population of 50,000 and the entire island is around 156,000.  Their link is the Confederation Bridge.  Since its completion box stores such as Walmart have located here because its now possible to transport their goods over the bridge.  They have no natural gas piped to this island so oil or propane is used – many homeowners install heat pumps.  

Early this morning a large group of us boarded a coach and enjoyed a leisurely drive through the rolling, rural countryside.  Its a overcast drizzle day.  We made a stop at “Anne of Green Gables” – toured the homestead and strolled down “lovers lane”.  The book “Anne of Green Gables” has been published in over 30 countries and in 11 languages.  

I purchased “Black Garlic infused Sea Salt” from a young entrepreneur whose production is almost large enough that he can start shipping his product – I wish him well – www.peiseasalt.com

Agriculture is the number 1 industry here – fishing plus the farmers grow over 60 varieties of potatoes (80,000 acres) which are shipped all over the World.  There are 1800 farms on the island, 18% are farmed by females and the average age of local farmers is 55 years old.  The largest animal  is the coyote and their red fox is a nuisance.    

The Amish and Mennonites have been moving onto the island because land is still affordable.  We didn’t spot any buggies but saw some Amish schoolchildren dressed in their colourful dresses.  The locals flock to the Amish farms on Saturdays when they sell their organic produce and freshly made breads.  There were Amish Quilts available for us to buy next to the pier.

We heard the story of PEI Island Preserves – opened by at the time a struggling chef who decided to put amaretto in his strawberry preserves and the rest is history.  His preserves are now shipped all over World.  The impressive manufacturing facility is on a beautiful piece of land with a large pond.  

Sixty one lighthouses can be found on the island including the oldest one in Canada.

Last Tuesday there were a number of cruise ships in Charlottetown so 9600  passengers invaded the area.  Today it was much more manageable – we are here with Holland Americas Veendam (a smaller cruise ship).  It isn’t busy anywhere.

After our tour we enjoyed a light lunch onboard the ship and then some of us explored downtown Charlottetown.  There are a number of beautiful churches to tour – I was especially impressed with the massive United Church which is known for its excellent acoustics.  Although their congregation is getting smaller, they still attract around 400 for Sunday services.  I was very happy to find a Starbucks.  The last time we saw one was in Halifax.  The location here in Charlottetown has a neat vibe to it and was packed.

We were impressed with the Great George Hotel.  In the lobby they display pictures of celebrities that were housed here  – Elton John, Reba McIntyre to name a couple.

Like the other Canadian ports of call we have visited the building next to the pier is filled with local crafters selling their wares.  

Tonight I am treating my passengers to Dinner at Canaletto a speciality restaurant onboard.  We will fill the entire restaurant.  I had to book it soon after we boarded ship in order to secure the space.  Everyone is looking forward to it.

Tomorrow we travel along the St. Lawrence River.  I’ve arranged a number of event for my group including – Tour of the Galley, Backstage Tour and a Luncheon in the fine dining restaurant the Pinnacle Grill.

We continue to have a marvelous time!

Day 7 – Sydney, Cape Breton – Thanksgiving Day

Sydney, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia – Canadian Thanksgiving

What a marvelous day!

The sun shone and the sky was blue as we approached the World Largest “Playable Fiddle” which weighs 8 tons.  Yes it can be tuned and is in the Book of World Record.  If a giant arrives possibly it can actually be played.  Its an amazing tourist landmark.  Whoever thought of it deserves a medal.

We docked early this morning.  The Norwegian Dawn is also here but her passengers had to tender in as the dock in Sydney can only handle 1 cruise ship.

The locals warmly welcomed us.

The complex next to the pier was filled with artists selling their wares.  Its an impressive facility.

Up the street in the Catholic Church Hall, I met and bought from a couple young artists.  One guy who looked to be in his teens sold very inexpensive framed prints made with stamps.  

I chatted for a long while with the “Sticks and Stones” Artist.  He travels the World as he speaks a number of languages so its easy for him to find work during his travels.  I purchased from him a very unique iPhone charger that he made from local driftwood.  His framed artwork is made with Sticks and Stones.  If I had more luggage space I would have bought one of his pieces.  He doesn’t have a website but if you are interested in his art, the email is sticksandstonesart@icloud.com

Surprisingly since its Thanksgiving a number of downtown shops were open.  There are some really good quality shops in the downtown core including a shoe store that has been in business for over 50 years and an exceptional art gallery.

During my walk back to the ship along the wide boardwalk I chatted with a few locals who wanted to know where I was from and how I was enjoying the cruise.

A number of my group gathered for an afternoon “Nova Scotia Kitchen Party” which featured my brothers good friend, Aaron C. Lewis on the guitar, piano and vocals (very talented at all – his Dad was the founding member of the Carlton Show Band – Pig and Whistle TV Show), award winning fiddle and piano player Kimberly Fraser, and fiddle and guitar player, Lawrence Martel.  A young stepper entertained us too.

Their 90 minute performance flew by.  My passengers are all hoping that we’ll have them entertain at the Walters Theatre.  Some of them were up square dancing!

A wonderful day in a beautiful part of Canada.

Time to get ready for dinner – the chefs are preparing Turkey as one of the entrees in honor of Canadas Thanksgiving.  

Day 6 – HALIFAX, Nova Scotia on Thanksgiving Sunday

Halifax is a beautiful Canadian City. 

The Zuiderdam docked at the Halifax pier early this morning.  There were no official border procedures to go through.  We filled out Canadian custom forms a few days ago and the cruise line staff submitted them.  There weren’t any customs officials at the pier.

I joined a group of my travelers on a half day excursion to famous, Peggy’s Cove.  Our guide was Monica (Monique).  She was excellent.  I know her employer well so I am going to be sure to let him know what a wonderful guide she is.  John our coach drive was excellent too.

We enjoyed a picturesque rural drive.  The Mountain Ash and Maple Trees are showing some Fall Colour but just like in Ontario the leaves are turning later than usual this year.

Lobster fishing is very important here.  It may be lucrative but it’s major investment – $300,000 for a license and around $800,000 for a fishing boat!  The fisherman current gets $6.00 a pound for his lobster catch.  It takes between 5-7 years for a lobster to weigh a pound.  If a fisherman catches a smaller than a pound lobster it has to be thrown back in.  This area is divided into different lobster fishing zones – in the Halifax Region a  fisherman can only catch lobster from Nov 1 to the end of April.  This protects the lobster population.  

The second largest industry here is rubber tire production – employees 3000.

Tourism helps the province too.

The population in Peggy’s Cove is just 38 but thousands of tourists visit this natural attraction because its so picture perfect.  

Celebrities such as Tom Selleck and Sandra Bullock often rent homes close to Halifax.  Canadian Singer, Anne Murray owned a home here for many years.

The boardwalk along the Halifax Shore extends 5 Kilometers.  Its a major tourist attraction for the city and is very beautiful.

Thanks to my brothers recommendation I savoured the crab cakes at Salty’s Restaurant which is located at the end of the boardwalk – the crab cakes were the best I have ever tasted.

I also found a very good mens clothing store called Colwell’s.   

The Halifax farmers market was well worth visiting along with all the pop-up shops in the terminal building.

Halifax is a perfect destination to celebrate this Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend.  I’m excited that tourists onboard the Zuiderdam from all over the World are getting this opportunity to visit Eastern Canada.

The Zuiderdam culinary staff featured a create-your-own Canadian poutine bar and craft beers from Eastern Canada have been brought on board – including Blueberry Ale.

The indoor pool onboard the Zuiderdam was a popular stop to relax late this afternoon.

I’m so thankful to be Canadian.

Day 5 – Bar Harbor – Lobster and Blueberries

Day 5 – Bar Harbor, Maine – Acadia National Park, Lobster and Blueberries!

I have just been mesmerized by the sunrises we have experienced during this Canada/New England cruise.  The sky has been waking up with its bright colours dancing all over the place.

The Oceania Insignia has been sailing with us throughout this cruise.  It is here with us again in Bar Harbor.  Bar Harbor is such a scenic destination.  I’ve visited this part of Maine with tour groups many times over the years and its always a favourite.

Todays weather – perfect – a sunny, fall day – temps hovering around 60F.

This is a tender port of call.  The Zuiderdam has a number of new state-of-the-art tender – very nice.

This destination has attracted the very wealthy for many years.  It competed with Newport, Rhode Island.  Today many of the mansions have been turned into beautiful, Bed and Breakfast Inns.  I noticed the innkeepers had all displayed “sold out” signs.  It is a holiday weekend in the USA – Columbus Day.

During our tour through Acadia National Park we were surrounded by fall beauty everywhere we looked.  The Park was very busy with tourist.  The producer from the television series, “Law and Order” has built a beautiful mansion cottage close to the park and celebrity, “Martha Stewart” also lives here.  We were told she is very well respected by the locals.

Years ago Maine Lobster was a poor mans food.  It was ground up for fertilizer and also served to inmates in jail.  How things have changed!  Today its a delicacy.  We enjoyed a melt-in-your-mouth, Lobster luncheon in the elegant Bar Harbor Club, a private members facility.  We were served a whole lobster (not just a tail) with melted butter, sweet corn on the cob, red skinned potatoes, mussels and as a sweet finish – wild blueberry tart.  Gentleman staff members walked from table to table in the chandelier filled ballroom, offering to remove the lobster meat from the shell so we didn’t have to struggle with it and were they ever quick.

The Main Street in Bar Harbor is filled with touristy shops, restaurants and ice cream parlours.  It was a beautiful day for strolling and picture taking.

After we arrived back on the Zuiderdam I basked in the sun on my stateroom Balcony and ended up with a sunburn!  My passengers have been making good use of their balconies during this cruise.

At dinner my passengers expressed how happy they were with this port of call.   Everyone had a wonderful time in Bar Harbor.

Tonight’s cooking class was themed – Chocolate – how delicious!

There is a storm 130 nautical miles from us so the Captain warmed that the waters may be choppy around midnight.  

Time goes ahead by 1 hour at 2am.

Tomorrow is Canadian Thanksgiving Sunday and we’ll be spending it in Halifax, NS.

How appropriate that we return to Canada on Thanksgiving!

Day 4 – BOSTON

Day 4 – Impressive – Boston, MA 

Today we visited the home of the movie, “Good Will Hunting” – BOSTON.  As we drove around the city we saw a number of film crews set up.  Boston’s “Cheers” Bar attracts hoards of tourists but it was just the last show of the tv series, “Cheers” that filmed in Boston.

Boston is basically the same size as Disney World and has a population of 750,000.  Education is a big industry here.  There are approx 350,000 students studying in Boston/Cambridge.  The pharmaceutical industry is prominent too – more pharmaceutical jobs in Boston that any other place in the World.

Boston sells more ice cream than any other US City.  It is mandatory that every meal served at Harvard University must include ice cream!

We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day for our city tour – balmy temperatures with sunny blue skies.

Our guide was a colourful one.  We learned a great deal from him.  His children have done well so he is proud and he has been married for 49 years.  He is a true sports fan and this is a sports city.

We headed into Cambridge so we could walk around Harvard.  The hardest thing about Harvard University is getting accepted as a student.  If you get in you pay a big tuition – 75G a year but it is pretty difficult to fail.  Students live close to the campus in  impressive student housing.  A tutor is included with each house  to help ensure students are going to be successful.  Ninety percent of Supreme Court Judges and eight Presidents graduated from Harvard.

There is a large Chinese and Italian district but as the cost of living in this city continually increases its pushing out the older immigrants who can no longer afford the high costs .  These areas in turn are losing their character.  Condos are being built in these areas so there goes the character.

The lady that was looking after the coach shuttles returning to the ship shared that she pays $1000.00 a month for a 200 sq ft apartment!

Unemployment in Boston is less than 1%.  Our guide told us that he doesn’t want Amazon to come to this city (its a major contender) because a bigger population will just raise the cost of living even more.

We drove past Boston’s, Parker House Hotel which has the title as the oldest hotel in the USA – known for its Parker Rolls and Boston Cream Pie.  The original Ritz Carlton hotel was located her.

Clam Chowder and Lobster Rolls are the local delicacies that the tourists want to try.  Neptune Oyster is one of the most famous Lobster Roll restaurants – served cold with mayonnaise or hot with melted butter – $32.00 each!

Boston is proud of its Irish heritage and hosts one to the World’s Largest St. Patrick Day parades.

Reebok running shoes headquarters is here. 

In Boston if a Trader Joe’s Food Store opens in your neighbourhood the value of your home will go up!

We finished our tour at Quincy Market – our guide told us that is the 2nd most visited “man made” attraction in the USA.

What really impressed all of us is how progressive this city is – the waterfront development, the underground transportation system, expansion of the convention centre in order to accommodate 100,000 delegates, they have cleaned up the salt water in the port and Boston is now regarded as the cleanest port in the USA – whales can be seen close to shore – we all commented on how clean the city is.

Boston will be a future, “Travel With Bradley” Motor Coach destination.  Many of my passengers that were with me today said they, “Can’t Wait To Return”.

A fantastic day!