Day 7 – Quebec City
Woke up Friday to the spectacular view of Quebec City, with a gorgeous view of the Chateau Frontenac, a monstrous hotel overlooking the St. Lawrence River. It sits atop the Terrasse Dufferin, looking out over the Lower Town. The sidewalk cafes, 17th century architecture and sounds of French being spoken freely, reminded me of Paris. We took the funicular to the upper section of the city and gradually meandered back to sea level, after hours of shopping, sightseeing and lunch in an Irish Pub.
Tip: We did not convert any American cash to Canadian and found that most restaurants and shops will not give you the benefit of the sometimes 20% difference. Best to use a credit or debit card as the difference will be automatically changed and you’ll get a much better deal.
Excursion tours can take you out to Montmorency Falls and Island of Orleans (Ile d’Orleans), a 15 minutes drive outside of downtown Quebec City. This area, made up of several villages, provides a look at the rural side of Quebec. We chose to stay in the city for a day of exploration but would love to come back to this part of Canada when we can spend more time discovering all it has to offer.
Back on board the Maasdam, we made our way to the top of the ship as we departed the port of Quebec City. Shortly we were passing under the Pierre Laporte bridge, which spans the St. Lawrence between Quebec City and Levis, Quebec. The two separate bridges are part of two different highways and we supposedly had a ten foot clearance. A small tugboat appeared, chugging in the opposite direction. Upon going under the bridge it let out a few toots as it went on its way. What we didn’t know until later was that it is a tradition to blow one’s horn upon cruising under the Pierre Laporte. To our surprise, the Maasdam blew its horn, which was only a few feet from us and I think everyone on deck jumped into the air as a result of the blast.
We chose to have our last dinner in the Rotterdam and were lucky to get a table for 2 against the back window. We were greeted by a rainbow which seemed to be the perfect ending for a charmed trip. Traditionally, on the last evening, the full crew parades in song through the dining room, waving so long to the guests. It was a sweet way to show appreciation to such a dedicated crew.
De-embarkation was a breeze. Another tip: when you receive your de-embarkation instructions a few days before the final port, make sure you return it with your preferred time of departure. We needed to catch a 10:30 am Amtrak train in the city so chose 8:30. It’s a huge job to get everyone off the ship in a few hours and it’s handled seamlessly. We walked off with no line and found our luggage in the terminal right away.
Bypassing the taxis, we chose to walk in yet another cool morning to the Montreal train station. Having visited this beautiful city a few years ago, we decided not to stay over. It was also a lot more expensive to fly out of Montreal to Orlando, so we took the Amtrak Adirondack to NYC and flew out of Newark the next day…saving that adventure for another post.
Overall, we were so impressed with Holland America and the Maasdam. We’ll definitely be cruising with HAL to Alaska and the Panama Canal in the future. Who knows, we might even be tempted to give the Caribbean another try!
Susan also writes Forever Young but Growing Old on hypeorlando.com, the Orlando Sentinel’s blog platform.