Just home from 10 days on the Grand Princess (OCT 8 through 18), I promised myself that I would post here when I got home, as it seems that people just don't bother, as it's such a short season. But maybe this will be of help to people next year. This is geared for the budget minded, so if you are all about ship tours, don't bother reading, LOL. It's not that we're (dh 48, me 39) cheap, it just really became fun to save money on this cruise instead of what the ship was gouging us for (if you're doing New England, I also posted a review there). I will say that we had some bad weather in Canadian posts and that changed alot of plans. I had reserved rental cars in Saint John and Halifax and right before the trip had bad feelings about it and decided to cancel (which worked out well). OK, for the ports.
Saint John: The decision to cancel a rental car ended up being a good one. The weather was terrible. Very cold, gale force winds at times and torrential downpours. We ended up spending most of our time shopping in the mall and walking through the enclosed walkways to the old City Market. We spent some time fighting the weather outside in a pretty park and old cemetary, but the weather drove us back inside. The ship was supposed to leave at 3:00pm and we were stuck in port until 9:00pm, due to weather. I will say, we had fun sitting up in Skywalker's lounge watching the huge snow flakes fly by the windows and watching all the ship staff run out to watch, as many had never seen snow, LOL.
Halifax: Due to leaving port late the day before, we did not get there until 1:00pm (Capt. extended our stay 1 hour till 6:00pm). So again, my premonition was right and it was a good thing that we canceled the rental car. It was cold and rainy here, but we still managed to have a good time. OK, big tip for the budget minded. There is a free shuttle called FRED (free rides every day), go to the info booth in terminal and ask about it. It takes you to all the same places as the ships hop on hop off bus for $44.00pp. There is only one and it takes about 40 minutes to make a loop. It will take you to the Museum of the Atlantic (admission $7.50pp). The Citadel, admission $7.00pp (40 minutes was plenty of time to walk around), with nice views of the city. It will take you to the city gardens (free admission), the Casino and a few other places, including right back to the ship. We walked the wharf, took FRED to the Citadel, did a little shopping and had to be back on the ship.
Sydney: We shared a cab with another couple for $65.00 for a two hour city tour, which was interesting and worth it. Did a little shopping, then took our only ship tour out to the Fortress of Luisberg (sp?). We LOVED the fortress and enjoyed it very much. Only about a 3rd of the houses were open with only a few people in costume running around, the next day after we were there none of the buildings were going to be open. So I would make sure you check on their website before booking this tour.
Cornerbrook: Freezing cold weather here. If the weather is good, I'm sure the thing to do is to go to Gros Morne National Park. We shared a taxi for $65.00 for a city tour which was OK (not as nice as Sydney), but did get to see some nice foliage around town. Some shopping and that was it.
Quebec - Probably my favorite place besides New York. Went to info booth in terminal wanting information on how to get to the Falls of Montmercy. They were really pushing a taxi for $30 one way, until we specifically asked about city buses. Then they were very helpful and gave us a map, good directions on where to buy bus tickets (you can buy them on the bus for about 40 cents more) $2.40pp one way, and exact bus numbers to take. So we walked of to the right away from the ship, bought our bus tickets in a grocery store. Then walked up a lovely street filled with antique stores for about a 10 - 15 minute walk to the bus. Took the 800 bus which turned into the 50 bus for about a 45 minute ride to the falls (the bus took you through interesting city streets and neighborhoods instead of the highway that the bus tours used). A short walk and we were at the top of the falls, free entrance, then walked across a footbridge over the top of the falls. We could see all the bus tours (Princess wanted $49pp to go there and a couple of stops in the countryside) at the bottom of the falls, then you would have to take a scary looking cable car to get to the top. We then waited a few minutes for the bus (which only comes once an hour) and headed back to the city. We got transfers from the bus driver who told us where to transfer to the number 3 bus to get to the top of the old city and we got off near the Chetaeu de Frontenac. Up on the top of the old city is where all the horse drawn carriage rides are, restaurants, etc. We then took the small fenicular down the hill for $1.70pp. Short walk back to the ship through picturesque shopping streets and back to the ship for a little while. Went back out exploring again at night and the town is literally right there by the ship. Loved Quebec City, it felt like being back in Paris. By the way, we only saw four other people from the ship on the bus and they seemed as happy as we were to be going the bus route instead of a $60 taxi ride.
OK, hope this may be of help to someone in the future! Bon voyage everyone.