Montreal and cruise to Boston

Jun 22nd, 2015, 05:23 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 19,887
Montreal and cruise to Boston

It was interesting to see the Eastern part of Canada, my 2nd trip to Montreal, 1st for my husband. We flew to Montreal, stayed there for 3 nights, got on the Holland America cruise to Boston for 3 days.

I made the open jaw flight reservation – both legs through United, flight to Montreal was on Air Canada. Neither airline allowed seat reservation, and I worried if we even sit close to each other. We hit the jackpot – they assigned the exit row with 2 seats together. We had plenty of leg room, and nobody next to us. Loved that flight. On the way back from Boston we were cramped in. At least we got plenty of liquids!

Stayed in hotel Les Suites Labelle. It was convenient to take the shuttle bus from the airport and walk a block to the hotel. At the airport I got us 3-day passes that cover buses and metro. The street named Labelle looks like a back alley of San Francisco Chinatown, not a street. We walked out of the hotel through the parking lot to Berri street, felt safer. I would not walk there at night, too many questionably looking individuals.

The hotel itself is really nice for the price we paid on Expedia, big breakfast included. Too bad the restaurant in the hotel is out of business. Our kitchenette had everything for 2 people. About 2 blocks away the central metro, restaurants, food and liquor stores, pharmacy. Part of Sainte Catherine is walking only, and we were stopped by beggars only once in 2 days.

Our first sightseeing was the Holocaust museum. The metro ride was long, I was sitting across from the map watching the stops, and my oh-so-ever-supporting husband was trying to cheer me up asking repeatedly: are you sure we are on the right line? and: how many more stops? There is a beautiful park full of squirrels on the way from metro to the museum. The museum has many artifacts on the display, and short documentaries with interviews, difficult to watch, so many people perished.

My husband couldn’t get over the metro. How spacious it was, how many underground shops, how many lines, how many exits each train car has, how convenient, how clear the signs are. I didn’t have time before the trip to figure out the bus lines, so we mostly took the metro. McCord museum is interesting to visit, we both liked it. Walked around the city, the area near the piers is nice, and the days were sunny. St Helene Island (as the whole city) is covered with greens.

This was our first cruise with HAL on Maasdam, a smaller ship. As always, I picked the cabin in the lower part of the ship, in the middle third, and with a window to avoid sea sickness. The stops were: Quebec, Charlottetown, Sydney, Halifax, Bar Harbor. With the exception of Sydney we took a panoramic tour of each place, one tour was in a horse-drawn carriage. All tour guides were good, talking non-stop, we learned a lot from them.

I thought the scenic cruising on St Lawrence river would be a great thing, this is why we picked a smaller ship… we were 2.5 hrs late departing, and sailed mostly in the dark. Disappointed. Strangely, I haven’t heard about the Halifax great explosion, close to 2,000 people killed in 1917. Loved the story about a Synagogue exploded, but The Torah was intact in the Ark. We fell in love with the rebuilt city, and decided to tell our children to get jobs there so we can move to that city too

By Sydney we felt we were getting too much information and getting tired, so we took a break by not taking a tour. I was talking to a woman on Facebook, she lives in Quebec, and we hoped to meet, but she was out of town. She arranged a meeting with her sister-in-law and her friend, isn’t it amazing how the Internet brings people together.

When I was making reservations for the cruise, the dinner choices were: fixed or any time. I picked fixed, large table. Turned out, they assigned the 7.45 pm dining. We’d love to stay at the same table with the interesting people there, but the timing was wrong for us: we both prefer early dinner. It was easy to move our dining to 5.30 – a smaller table, but a nice mother-and-daughter couple. The crew was accommodating, and it seems that “no” was not even in their vocabulary! They all talked to the passengers like we were friends or family, it was different from other cruise lines.

The menu was limited, clearly designed for seafood lovers, and the only other choice, if you don’t want to pay for food even more, was the buffet. The hours of the buffet were strange: dinner till 8, and snacks only after 10.30. We brought some snacks from the breakfast buffet to the cabin, in case we get hungry. Like people get hungry on cruise ships! We felt that on a smaller ship the food choices were limited compare to bigger ships.

Had a scary moment at lunch. The main restaurant was not even opened; we had to have lunch in the buffet. We finished, and were walking out of the buffet, passing the short line of people getting food. All of a sudden something swooshed right in front of me. A man fell, not like his legs would bend, but full length, hitting his had on the floor. His glasses landed nearby. I saw people fainting, but this was the first time somebody fell like he was pushed backwards. We both were shaking for a while, didn’t stay to see the doctor arriving.

The entertainment was limited, and even that was not followed through. For example, if music is scheduled from 6 pm, you can show up at the place, and there are no performers. Production shows were spectacular, lots of money spent on costumes, but you won’t remember much the next day. We didn’t go to all of them. Some old movies in the movie theater (new for us, for example, “Mystic Pizza”), repeated on TV.

We had, on average, a free drink a day – don’t think there are as many freebies on other ships. Champagne at art auction (nobody makes you stay after a drink), whiskey tasting class; at some shopping promotion I tried my first Glenfiddich, felt like liquid fire. We also had 2 chocolates on the pillow each night, and gifts like shopping bag, coasters, pens.

Talked to the younger son who just came from the trip to Russia and Mongolia – he was disappointed that 1,000 islands is not on our itinerary. This means, we will not bring him the dressing.

The weather was not nice, several rains, strong winds, June is probably too early to visit that area, but we enjoyed the trip anyway. Blooming chestnut trees looking like covered with small white pyramids reminded of our childhoods. Saw lots of lilacs – on the last day of school we used to bring bouquets to our teachers.

For the next cruise we’ll pick a bigger ship. For now, I see a Road Scholar program in the near future.
Dayenu is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2015, 07:17 AM
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 2,047
Glad you had a good time. I am going to Montreal and Quebec City in September and am really looking forward to the trip.
jerseysusan is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2015, 06:13 PM
Join Date: Nov 2009
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Nice report. How much time did you spend at the McCord Museum?

Did you get to visit the Biosphere on St Helene Island?
europeannovice is offline  
Jun 26th, 2015, 03:25 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 329
I am glad you enjoyed your trip. Great trip report.
tch912 is offline  
Jun 27th, 2015, 05:58 PM
Join Date: Jun 2015
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Hi Dayenu(great name!!! (it would have been enough!)
Glad to hear you had a good trip!
I'm going on the same ship, Montreal to Boston, in August. Looking forward to it. I've been in all of the cities before--except Sydney. My plan is to just walk around the towns and get back on the boat!!!
drsheryl is offline  
Jun 28th, 2015, 05:45 PM
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Posts: 19,887
Thank you, all! I think we were at McCord for about 2 hrs. Went to St Helene, but didn't go inside the Biosphere. I remember it from the previous visit as an interesting place to see.

DrSheryl, when you get off the ship in Sydney, on the right side there is a huge violin - if you want an unusual photo.
Dayenu is offline  
Jun 28th, 2015, 07:24 PM
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 1,259
Thanks for the feedback and glad you had a good trip.
europeannovice is offline  
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