Day 5 – Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
The next day, Wednesday, we would be in Charlottetown from 9 am to 5:30 pm. This city is quite a bit larger than Sydney, so we laced up our walking shoes and stepped off the ship into a cloudy, 68 degree morning.
The gorgeous architecture of cathedrals and homes was amazing. If you want to be more adventurous and get out of the city, Holland America provides excursions to more picturesque areas of Prince Edward Island. If you’re an Anne of Green Gables fan, you will find the family home where author L. M. Montgomery wrote many of her novels.
It was suggested, by an experienced cruiser, to try Cow’s Creamery which was worth the stop for ice cream. We were later told by the crew that their favorite Lobster Roll provider is Dave’s Lobster – wish we’d known beforehand – note to self: quiz the crew before a port of call about their favorite restaurants!
That night we dined at Cavaletto, an Italian restaurant on the Lido Deck. Sharing a tasty chicken piccata, as the meals were served family style, with crispy, light fried kale, we made sure to save room for dessert. While diving into Limoncello, we cruised under the Confederation Bridge, the world’s largest bridge over ice-covered water, which links Prince Edward Island with New Brunswick. We were told there is just a ten foot gap between the bridge and the tallest point of the ship. The pilot did a great job maneuvering between the posts, heading to our next day at sea.
The evening’s entertainment went late into the night with a 10 pm show by Patrick McMahon, a one man rock n roll show. He was amazing…looked a bit like Neil Young but with the energy of five rockers. So far, we’ve been impressed with the entertainment. Not the schmaltzy lounge lizards of old that you might expect on a cruise. I’d pay to see Patrick if he found his way to Orlando.
On the Maasdam there is a tradition for the crew to put on their own show, highlighting Indonesian song and dance traditions, along with some more contemporary talent. We stayed up for the 11 pm performance and were glad we did. The next day was at sea so no need to get up early.
Day 6 – At Sea
During our dinner at Cavaletto, the night before, we were handed an invitation, by the Dining Director, to a luncheon the next day in the Rotterdam Dining Room, with Francois. The crew was honoring some longstanding members of the Mariners’ Society (sort of a frequent flyer club of Holland America). The Captain, Arno Jutten, introduced a couple who had reached a milestone in the number of nights on board HAL’s ships. Another couple at the table marked their 79th cruise and provided a wealth of information on what to expect in several of the ports. One of the secrets several long-time cruisers shared was to take advantage of last minutes rates – be spontaneous.
When a cruise pops up averaging less than $100 per night per person, it’s worth dropping everything and escaping on an adventure, considering these rates are all inclusive. The only extra one might consider is a drink plan. The meals include water, tea, juice and coffee. If you’re addicted to soft drinks, that’ll be extra. However, one can usually find a deal on those packages, also.
We chose to enjoy the occasional cocktail in the evening but decided to forego the soda and learned we could live without it for a week. The champagne flowed freely (did I mention a bottle waiting for us in our cabin upon embarkation?), and the ship provided an affordable Happy Hour each night with a Drink of the Day. Couple that with the craft beer we were sampling in many of the ports and we cannot complain about a lack of spirits!
During the course of our day at sea, Charlie took advantage of the gym and I hit the quarter mile Deck 6 walk-around in a brisk wind at 48 degrees. Not too many brave souls joined me that morning, however, so I felt like I had the deck to myself, breathing in the crisp sea air. Heavenly! We walked miles on this trip but hardly ever broke a sweat. This is definitely the cruise to take to get out of Florida heat and humidity.
After lunch we checked out an afternoon lecture about the Halifax Explosion and that night enjoyed another song and dance extravaganza by a group of talented singers and dancers. Next day’s agenda, Quebec City!
Susan also writes Forever Young but Growing Old on hypeorlando.com, the Orlando Sentinel’s blog platform.