We disembarked Regatta on Tuesday, after a busy evening saying good-bye to folks, playing our final trivia game, and cashing in our Big O Points. Destination Services offered a $69/person tour after disembarkation for people with flights after 1:00 pm. We boarded a Big Bus (HoHo type), our luggage was stored, and we started off with a 90-minute tour of downtown, Coconut Grove, Coral Gables and Little Havana. After a brief potty stop at Bayside Market, the second 90-minute tour included South Beach art deco hotels and the big hotels on Miami Beach, as well as downtown South Beach. We took lots of photos and enjoyed the mild day seeing all the sights. The tour guide was terrific, very knowledgable about everything “Miami”.
Our flight left right on time to Houston, after running the gauntlet through very slow counter service at United and extremely slow lines through security (we barely made it to the gate prior to boarding). Miami International is among our least favorite airports, but at least we left on time. In Houston, we had a long walk from our gate to our connecting flight, which was a little late leaving, but made it to Denver almost on time. At home, the kittens were glad to see us and we went to bed early.
Now, on to the highlights and the lowlights:
1) Montreal: We loved this city and our small hotel in Vieux Montreal. It was very chilly, but that didn’t stop us from exploring and we found excellent bistros right near our hotel with delicious food and great service. Our carriage ride was also fun!
2) Quebec City: Another beautiful place! The tour was challenging for me with all of the walking and standing, but in the end, I was glad we saw so much of Quebec City and the environs (Montmorency Falls, Ile de Orleans, St. Anne du Beaupre). It would be wonderful to start a cruise here or have an overnight stop.
3) Halifax: Our private tour was shortened and it was rainy, but this city seemed dynamic and we loved the dramatic coastline near Peggy’s Cove. Some folks consider Peggy’s Cove to be too “touristy”, but it seemed authentic to us and we were there with very few other visitors. The private tour was excellent and our driver, Stewart, was knowledgable, a smooth driver, and fun to talk with.
4) Bar Harbor, Maine: This locale was spectacularly scenic and we enjoyed our tour, even with the superfluous stops at a historic B&B and the lobster oceanarium. Lunch was fun by the harbor in the fall sunlight.
4) Peacefield (Adams Home), Boston: The tour through this historic property required lots of standing and going up and down steep staircases, but it was worth every minute. The Park Ranger who led our group was superb, obviously deeply knowledgable and compassionate about John Adams, Abigail Adams, John Quincy Adams and the rest of the family.
5) New York: What can you say about this city? Cruising in and out during daylight hours was fantastic, we loved the High Line experience, enjoyed lunch at the Empire Diner and had fun exploring the Intrepid Museum.
6) Bermuda: This island is lovely, full of prosperous and nice people and tidy homes painted with lovely colors. Even after two recent hurricanes, Bermuda looked neater and tidier than many Caribbean islands.
7) Airboat ride, Florida: Although we were sorry we didn’t get to visit Charleston, our “Plan B” in Port Canaveral turned out well and the airboat ride on the St. John River was a lot of fun on a lovely day.
8) Regatta: We enjoyed our cruise very much and had excellent service (for the most part), superb food everywhere and liked the folks on our trivia team. Martini’s Bar is like a second living room for us! Captain Hansen is a delight and we had some fun conversations with other crew members.
9) Trump Tower, Toronto: The only highlight in this sprawling city was our stay at this magnificent hotel and dinner at “America”.
10) Niagara Falls: We finally saw Niagara Falls and enjoyed the experience, especially on the Canadian side.
11) Oh, and who can forget the Bingo win? We found out from Thomas, the assistant cruise director, that they miscalculated the snowball amount because they played two games on the last day at sea (Sunday), so we got more than we “should have” because of this error. They did the right thing and awarded us the amount that was advertised. This wiped out our shipboard account and we got some cash back, too!
1) My prescription scare: I really didn’t need this panic at the start of the trip, but fortunately we were mere minutes from the United States and I was able to get sufficient quantities of prednisone from a Walgreen’s in a bad neighborhood in rundown Niagara, New York to cover the trip and a few days beyond.
2) Greater Toronto: This city is one giant traffic headache and full of construction on the streets. We were glad to get “out of town” and do not have a single photo from here and are not sure we would go back.
3) The drive from Toronto to Montreal: This was pretty boring, full of trucks and took almost 8 hours. I wish we had more time to explore the side roads in the area.
4) Sydney, Nova Scotia: Although the countryside is scenic, we had a pretty boring tour to the Alexander Graham Bell museum and the small town of Baddeck nearby. The museum could be covered in less than an hour (we had more time) and the town was completely unremarkable and mostly closed for the season.
5) Boston cruise terminal and the JFK library: The Boston cruise terminal is very unattractive, although they claim to be renovating it soon. After the Adams house tour, the JFK presidential library was not nearly as interesting, although some of the exhibits were worth seeing.
6) Night tour in New York: Standing in line for more than an hour to see the view from the Empire State Building was not my idea of fun (Steve agreed). We bailed out early and were glad we didn’t complete the tour.
7) Bad weather at sea, missing Charleston: We had rough seas before reaching Halifax, shortening our time there, but the “mother” of storms awaited us when we left Bermuda. This monster along the eastern seaboard from mid-Florida to Virginia had force 10 seas and made moving around the ship difficult for almost two days, plus at least one passenger was injured. We were really looking forward to seeing Charleston, but will definitely put it on the planning radar for a trip in the future.
8) Bad news from places we had been and were going: It was a bit disconcerting to read about Ebola concerns in New York, terrorist attacks in Canada, and hurricanes in Bermuda, but we had no issues and hopefully no health problems will crop up.
9) Opinionated Roll Call members: We are glad we didn’t pursue the argument with the opinionated Canadians at our small meet and greet. They did try to make amends toward the end of the cruise, which was good. We ran into a few other grumpy Canadians (surprising), but most of the passengers on this cruise were pretty nice.
All in all, this was one of our favorite cruises. Number 25 is in the books, we now have 219 days at sea, and we look forward to the next adventure! Check back soon!