Jewel of the Seas
by Ken T.
September 27, 2008
We repeated the same cruise twice on September 27 and October 4 because we had taken a similar one several years ago and missed several ports due to two hurricanes. This time we thought we would see all the ports even if we missed some on the first or second cruise. Fortunately all went well and we saw every port twice. We still had two hurricanes come through the general area where the cruise went, but they passed to the east when we were still in the west. The captain did a great job of keeping us informed about the weather and any problems that might be caused by the hurricanes.
We spent two days in Boston before the cruise. The weather was horrible. They expected 3 inches of rain in Boston the day before the cruise and we think is all fell on us as we tried to walk the Freedom Trail. After 3 hours and being soaked to the skin, we gave it up and returned to the hotel for a hot shower and an afternoon nap. That was the best idea we had all day.
I ordered a sandwich one evening when we stayed in the cabin and it was soggy and stale. I did not order anything more from room service on either cruise.
We prefer to take all our meals in the main dining room. Unfortunately, the dining room was not open for lunch on the days we were in port. It was only open on the two sea days. Service during breakfast and lunch was extremely slow, but the assistant waiters were very attentive while we waited for the food to arrive.
The Island Explorer bus that runs from Bar Harbor into Acadia National Park was wonderful. We were too early to catch the right bus and had to wait about 1/2 hour for the next one, but had a very nice chat with one of the drivers who was waiting to get a ride to the bus yard to get her vehicle. She gave us some good advice about how to best see the park. Her suggestion was to get off the bus at a certain point just inside the park and walk a coastal trail for about two miles. She said we would be able to flag down the next bus or wait at the next scheduled stop for a ride. We took her advice and had a wonderful walk along the trail. The views were superb.
The bus in Halifax is called Fred and starts its loop of the city very near the cruise ship dock. It hits all the highlights of the city on each loop. The Citadel on top of a downtown hill is well worth a visit. Halifax also has a boardwalk along the water's edge that starts near the cruise ship dock. The cruise ship dock has an abundance of vendors selling locally made items.
St. John has a shopping mall that runs through upper stories of various downtown buildings starting near the water and ending several blocks up the hill at a market selling fresh produce and ethnic food items. It is an interesting walk through the various buildings including the St. John city hall. An interesting museum is in the same building where the market starts near the water.
Portland has an excellent art museum that is about a mile from the pier. The bus stops close by or you can stroll through the shopping area on you way to the museum. The Victoria Mansion is also worth a visit and the bus also stops just outside this building. There are a number of fish restaurants along the water's edge and in the downtown area.
We had hoped to see some fall colors, but were again too early. Each time we go to the east coast, we go a little later in the season, but have not yet been able to see an abundance of colors. I guess later in October would have been a better time for this trip.
We had a long wait at the airport in Boston. Our flight was not until 6:30 PM and it was almost an hour late. We were off the ship by a little after 8 AM, so we were at the airport for 10 hours or more. Fortunately they had some comfortable rocking chairs near the window where we were able to sit and watch the planes come and go.