Saint John, Halifax, Sydney, Cornerbrook and Quebec reviews

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#1
Nevada
755 Posts
Joined Jun 2001
Hi All,

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.

Tammy
#2
Memphis, Tn area
25,298 Posts
Joined Dec 2002
We took a free Shipyard Brewery tour in Saint John that was interesting.

We grabbed a taxi in Halifax for an hour private tour that turned out perfect. We got to see the cemetary and other stuff we wanted to see and our guide was fabulous!!
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#4
Memphis, Tn area
25,298 Posts
Joined Dec 2002
Sorry, I need to make a correction. We did the Shipyard Brewery Tour in PORTLAND, not Saint John.

Guess I "tasted" a little more than I thought I did.

In Saint John we got off the ship and just walked through the malls and markets. It was interesting.
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[email protected]

COMPLETES THE FLEET

If it is Carnival and it floats....we have sailed it!

Hubby ... DIAMOND (every ship except the Carnivale)
Me ... DIAMOND (every ship starting with the Tropicale)
24 year old son ... DIAMOND (every ship starting with the Tropicale) ONLY Double Milestone under the age of 21 in the world.....woo hoo!!
Showing the world what a kid with Autism can do!!!
28 year old son... finally DIAMOND (college got in the way). About to "cruise more than all of us under the water" as a. Naval Officer.

Holiday Ship On A Stick with a MARBLE base...

#5
Naples, FL
609 Posts
Joined Jul 2005
We were on this same tour and found it to be the most disappointing cruise that we've been on. Loved Newport and Bar Harbor. The weather was good on the stops there, also. We used the Silverline bus and the subway to get into Boston and walked the Freedom Trail to Paul Revere's house and the old North Church. You can go either left or right when you leave the ship and walk to either end of the Black Falcon pier. The bus stops at either end--just look for the signs. We had a car in St. John and drove to St. Andrew's by the Sea. Because of the weather, we didn't get to enjoy the town, but had some nice views on the way. Missed the reversing tides, but saw the place where you look at them. The Maritime Museum in Halifax was great. They have their Titanic exhibit and also had a special exhibit about pirates and pirateering. It's a reasonable walk from the ship. The FRED bus is a great idea, but it's so full of people that you can't really see anything while you're riding around. I think we enjoyed Sydney about the most of all the Nova Scotia ports. We rented a car (be sure and check Budget as they have an office in the town. We used Avis and had to go to the airport to pick up the vehicle, but they did pick us up and return us to the ship). We drove to Baddeck and went through the Alexander G. Bell museum. The drive was beautiful and it was a nice day.
The stop at Corner Brook was a huge disappointment. On top of not getting to go to PEI, the weather was AWFUL and this place has nothing! My recommendation would be to not pick a cruise that has this as one of it's ports. The people were very nice, however.

Quebec City was great despite the chilly weather. We walked all over the old town and used the funicular to go up. We also took a city bus and just rode to the end of the line and back.
We didn't go on a single ship's tour, and felt like we saw enough of each of the ports.
#6
Nevada
755 Posts
Joined Jun 2001
I'm glad to hear that someone else was able to take advantage of the city transportation in Boston (we actually had fun riding the subways every chance we got). I'm sorry you were dissapointed in this cruise. We really enjoyed it and are talking about doing it again (just earlier in the season when it might be a little warmer). Our only dissapointment was in the lack of "fall colors", but we did get to see enough of it out in the countrysides to appease our So. California perspective. I will say, that I was very happy that we packed hats, gloves, scarves, thermal's, fleece lined hooded rain jackets and umbrella's. Having those items made it possible for us to go out even when the weather was rotten.

Yes, the FRED bus was packed, and if money is not an object, I would guess that person would not want to ride on it. However, if someone is budget minded (which is what my reviewed is geared for) a couple can save $88.00 from what Princess wanted for a hop on hop off bus pass and get to all the same places in Halifax.

Happy cruising everyone!

Tammy
#7
Washington, DC
1,670 Posts
Joined May 2006
OP -- Thanks for posting; you were right, the information you provided is helpful for those cruising a year later. Very considerate of you to take the time to pass along a lot of useful information.
#8
So. California
479 Posts
Joined Mar 2007
Originally posted by sprinkles
I'm glad to hear that someone else was able to take advantage of the city transportation in Boston (we actually had fun riding the subways every chance we got). I'm sorry you were dissapointed in this cruise. We really enjoyed it and are talking about doing it again (just earlier in the season when it might be a little warmer). Our only dissapointment was in the lack of "fall colors", but we did get to see enough of it out in the countrysides to appease our So. California perspective. I will say, that I was very happy that we packed hats, gloves, scarves, thermal's, fleece lined hooded rain jackets and umbrella's. Having those items made it possible for us to go out even when the weather was rotten.

Yes, the FRED bus was packed, and if money is not an object, I would guess that person would not want to ride on it. However, if someone is budget minded (which is what my reviewed is geared for) a couple can save $88.00 from what Princess wanted for a hop on hop off bus pass and get to all the same places in Halifax.

Happy cruising everyone!

Tammy

Sprinkles--Thanks for your great post! We will be taking a Canada/New England cruise THIS Oct. on HAL... We too are budget minded, and much prefer public transportation than ship's tours. It worked great for us in Vancouver last year.
One question.....How did you pay for all the "little" things? Like the funicular in Quebec, or the bus rides. In Vancouver, we used Credit cards or American cash for just about everything. For Eastern Canada, should I exchange some money before we leave?

Thanks!
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#9
Saint John, NB
769 Posts
Joined Sep 2004
Originally posted by Retired 07
Sprinkles--Thanks for your great post! We will be taking a Canada/New England cruise THIS Oct. on HAL... We too are budget minded, and much prefer public transportation than ship's tours. It worked great for us in Vancouver last year.
One question.....How did you pay for all the "little" things? Like the funicular in Quebec, or the bus rides. In Vancouver, we used Credit cards or American cash for just about everything. For Eastern Canada, should I exchange some money before we leave?

Thanks!
$USD is widely accepted in eastern Canada as it is a well-established tourism area - even the city busses in Saint John will take your $USD. Whether you exchange some or not is a personal preference - but just wanted to let you know we welcome your currency.
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#10
UK
824 Posts
Joined Apr 2004
This is a very interesting thread and most useful as we will be on a similar cruise also in October on the Eurodam. Thank you so much. I will pack all my woollies and waterproofs, although water is the last thing we need here in the UK at the moment!
#11
Gloucester UK
342 Posts
Joined Aug 2008
I leave this weekend for New York and the first Princess Cruise to Canada / New England. All the information on this site is very helpful.

I agree with you about the waether - it is dire. But as we were flooded last July (and then without water for two weeks!!) I guess anything must be an improvement on that....
#12
Arizona
1 Posts
Joined Jun 2017
I am new to Cruise Critic and joined because on our cruise this past April I was talking with a passenger who said they never book tours on the ship. My husband is a stickler for doing that, but I am determined to be more budget minded on our upcoming cruise from Bayonne to Quebec City with RCCL.
I have been doing my research online and have developed a nice itinerary for us on this trip. It will be interesting to compare prices when we get on board and have the tours newsletter from the ship.