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Live (at the time) Review 12 night Canada/New England on Brilliance 10/22/12-11/3/12

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I've been planning to do this review for a couple of months now but with the holidays & my son's wedding I haven't managed to get it started until now. What follows is a journal of our trip in Oct/Nov and was written "as it happened" using the ido senior app on my iPad before, during & after the trip. I will be adding lots of pictures along the way. I do work full time so this will be posted over several days depending on how quickly I can get my pictures uploaded to photobucket. I hope you enjoy it... Be forewarned I tend to ramble at times. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

 

 

Sunday, October 14

 

I am going to attempt to do a review of our eighth cruise (seventh with RCCL).

When researching for this cruise there didn't seem to be a whole lot of reviews for Canada & New England so maybe this will help someone with future planning.

 

This was our second cruise that was just "the two of us", my husband Charlie, early 50's & myself, Cindy, closing in on 50. This will be our second cruise as Platinum members and this cruise will make us Emerald. We've never sailed higher than a balcony stateroom. We had only done outside cabins until we tried a balcony once when we got a good deal. Now we are hooked on balconies, especially the Aft, preferably corner afts. Would love to try a Jr Suite for the double points but haven't come across a deal that I can't pass up yet.

 

This cruise is a do-over for our earlier cruise this year. The cruise itself was wonderful and we enjoyed the week that we spent with family friends & excursions at all the Southern Caribbean islands that we visited while onboard Adventure of the Seas. We scored our first Aft Balcony 7688 with the oversized corner balcony with the additional side port hole that we spent hours enjoying every day. We also purchased 2 Future Cruise Certificates in anticipation of future cruises.

 

However, my dad was admitted to the hospital with a ruptured bowel on 2/7/12 just about a month before our previous cruise was scheduled for departure. As our cruise approached we debated on canceling (we had insurance) but my dad insisted that we keep our plans and said he would still be there when we returned. During this time he was in the hospital 36 days & had17 surgeries & was on a ventilator & unconscious most of the time but was stable when we left. He had some set backs while we were gone and he was in our thoughts the entire time and we checked on him daily. We flew back home on 3/11 at the end of our 7 night cruise arriving in Dallas about 3:30pm and headed straight for the hospital an hour away. We received a call about 30 minutes out from my brother saying my dad wouldn't make it through the night. We called all the family in. We arrived at the hospital and got to spend the last few hours with my dad... Everyone said he was just waiting on me to get back to say goodbye as he had promised me he would still be there... And he was. He joined my mom, his wife of 50 years who had just passed away a short 14 months before in January 2011... I was now officially an orphan.... and boy did I feel like one!

 

Just a few days after the funeral my sweet husband suggested a do-over to relax and get away on our own. Our last cruise which had been in the makings for about 18 months ended up with a lot of stress and worry and not too much relaxing.

 

To be continued...

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We had talked about doing this Canada/New England cruise in 2013 which was why we purchased the FCC. I started looking on line to check prices... This was not something that we had financially planned to do (take two cruises 7.5 months apart). As I was looking online I saw that the much sought after Corner Aft balcony 9256 was available on this cruise aboard Brilliance of the Seas! And there was a C&A Savings Certificate with a $250 price reduction and we'd receive $150 OBC (from the FCC) for an 11 night cruise. It was a sign! I put the cabin on hold immediately and called my husband who said "book it!" Just a week or so later there was a price drop of $310 per person, then the following week another price reduction of $190 per person... And the insurance cost went down another $30pp...Talk about luck! We ended up saving $1310 total on the cruise fare including the $250 savings certificate plus have $150 OBC to spend! You couldn't beat that with a stick!

 

After years of saving our American Airline points, my husband had enough points to purchase both of our flights non-stop round trip on multi city flights from Dallas to Montreal (for a couple days pre-cruise) and from NYC to Dallas (getting to enjoy a couple days post-cruise) all for only $5 per person! Everything was falling in to place and not breaking the bank!

 

All this planning keeps me busy and I love researching the port stops, places to eat, hotels to stay at, private excursions to take, historical sites to see. I'm happiest when I have a cruise booked and feel a little sad when nothing is on the horizon. I have spent the last five months working, then coming home and checking in on Cruise Critic, reading on the RCCL boards, the Canada and New England ports of call boards, spent some time on Trip Advisor, read Fodor's Montreal & Quebec City Travel Guide and Frommer's NYC travel guide. Downloaded free City Walks travel apps for all three cities. Gotten free publications such as "Doers & Dreamers" from Nova Scotia and PEI travel guides. I've had a ball making plans and compiling my travel book... A one inch see-thru vinyl binder complete with pocket dividers for each port. I'm a little OCD about planning... Which I know drives some people crazy having every minute of everyday planned... But then there are others of us who thrive on the challenge to squeeze in as much as possible. We try to plan our cruises to visit different ports and figure that this might be the only time we are ever in this location, therefore we try to see as much as possible. We use our evenings & sea days to do absolutely nothing but to rest, relax and enjoy our time together (sometimes that's has been as little as 1 day on the Southern Caribbean or as much as 5 straight sea days on the Hawaii to Vancouver cruise). We're not big into the dance clubs, bars or seeing a show every single night. If it sounds interesting we will make a point to go, if not we enjoy our balcony and the sound of the ocean waves as we relax & wind down.

 

We joined the Roll Call and signed up for the Meet & Mingle. Have few private excursions planned and was able to find new friends on the Roll Call to join us on a few. Looking forward to meeting everyone on board and getting to know them from more than just a screen name.

 

I am the family photographer and enjoy recording our travels in pictures. I usually try to make a coffee table book of each of our cruises so that we can look back on our travels and enjoy them with our friends and family. I shoot with a Canon 7D with a 18-200 lens the majority of the time. I also take my 100-300 IS Zoom lens so that I can get right up close and personal with some of the farther away things. We also bring along our Olympus Tough waterproof point & shoot which we use on the beach, snorkeling and at dinner time or to catch some random shots. I like to board the ship as early as possible in hopes of catching some pictures of the ship without random people in every shot... If this is not possible I will try to get up extra early one morning to get some shots. In the past we have always had early dining and that has prevented me from getting a picture of sunset so that is on my wish list this trip. We have early dining again but will be doing both Chops & Portofino's so hoping to schedule one dinner a little later in order to accomplish my goal. I also have never gotten a picture of sunrise so that will be a goal as well.

 

In the past we have done Eastern, Western & Southern Caribbean (2), Bahamas, Hawaii & Alaska. We have never traveled North East and are very much looking forward to seeing the ports & history in Canada as well as New England. The largest ship we have sailed is the Voyager class x3 (Adventuer x2, Voyager) and the Vision Class x3 (all Rhapsody) & our first cruise way back in '95 was on Premiere Cruise Lines which no longer exists, it was probably the Vision size or smaller. This will be our first cruise on a Radiance class ship & we are excited to experience it.

 

 

Continued...

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Our travel plans are as follows:

 

Pre-Cruise:

10/19FridayFlight from Dallas to Montreal

10/20SaturdaySite-seeing in Montreal

10/21SundayMorning/Afternoon Site-seeing in Montreal, afternoon bus to QC

10/21SundayEvening in Quebec City

10/22MondaySite-seeing in Quebec City

 

Cruise Itinerary:

10/22MondayBoard ship, disembark & spend the day site-seeing in Quebec City

10/23TuesdayShip over-nighted in QC so disembark & enjoy 2nd day in QC

10/24WednesSea Day

10/25ThursdayGaspe, Canada

10/26FridayChalottetown, Prince Edward Island

10/27SaturdaySydney, Nova Scotia

10/28SundayHalifax, Nova Scotia

10/29MondaySaint John, New Brunswick

10/30TuesdayBar Harbor, Maine

10/31WednesPortland, Maine

11/01ThursdaySea Day

11/02FridayPort Liberty, Bayonne, NJ - disembark

 

Post Cruise:

11/02FridayNew York City, NY

11/03SaturdayNew York City, Ny then fly home to Dallas

 

About three weeks out I emailed the dining room requesting a table foe two and ask for a confirmation email. BR_RestaurantOperationsCoordinator@rccl.com was the direct email to the onboard dining room of Brilliance of the Seas. The next day I received an email advising that our request had been approved along with the exact table number and a map of the dining room pointing out the table next to the window. Normally we sit with family or friends that we are traveling with. The first cruise we sailed alone was in 2010 on our 30th anniversary cruise to Hawaii and we also asked for and received a table for two.

 

So all of my pre-cruise planning will hopefully payoff in lots of fun & adventure. It's the weekend before we leave, the bags are out, the camera & Kindle batteries are charged, the toiletry bag is packed and I am getting SICK, no not sick of packing, actually physically sick! WAIT! That's not part of my plan AND I don't have time to be sick. I still have 4 more days to work, a house to clean, clothes to wash, bags to pack...

 

 

Monday, Oct 15... 4 days before we are scheduled to begin our trip...

 

I go to work and as soon as the doctor's office opens I call & get an appointment... Normally I just tough it out, but I do not want to risk feeling like crap when we leave on our trip. A few short hours and about $100 in office and RX co-pays later I have a diagnosis... Upper respiratory infection... A shot, a Z-Pack and RX cough syrup and I'm on my way. Twelve hours later I have to say I'm starting to feel like I might live long enough to actually enjoy the cruise that I have spent so much time in planning.

 

Now I just have to get thru three more days of work, finish packing & then clean the house and change the sheets on the bed before we leave. I LOVE coming home to a clean house & clean sheets!

 

 

Continued... More tonight including pictures of Montreal

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I started getting a respiratory infection last Thursday and was in bed all weekend. I went to the doctor on Monday morning, got a shot and a Zpak and went to work feeling like the walking dead. I figured after 3 days of the Zpak I would be good as new but I woke this morning at 8am still SICK. My husband said that maybe we should stay home and just let me get better...NO HOW, NO WAY after all the planning and looking forward to this cruise was i canceling my vacation... I DESERVE THIS CRUISE!!!

 

I immediately called the doctor's office and got worked in at 8:45am. I was out of the doctor and thru the pharmacy for 3 prescriptions & an OTC medication by 945am arriving back at home at 10am. I made sure to verify with the doctor that I was not contagious, she said as long as i wasnt running a temp I was not. Luckily I have not run any temp it was just bronchitis. Washed a few dishes, watered the plants & finished up a few last minute things while my husband fed the dogs & put the suitcases in the car. At 11am we were out the door and on the way to the airport about an hour away. We were parked by 12:15 and thru check in, security and seated in TGIFridays by 12:45. Had a nice leisurely lunch of salad for me and chicken sandwich for the hubby. $25 including tip and we were out the door. Boarding started at exactly 1:50 as schedule, was painless and the flight was uneventful leaving on time at 2:30pm and arriving Montreal about 10 minutes early at 6:45 (5:45 our time). I don't think there was a single kid on the flight and hubby was able to grab an hour or so nap while I looked thru the Skymall Catalog & AA magazine and played a few word games on my iPhone. Our daughter who lives in Ft Worth picked up our car that night after work and parked it at her house to avoid several hundred dollars in parking fees upon our return.

 

After arriving in Montreal, we walked for what seemed like forever thru the airport to arrive at customs where the lines looked pretty long but moved quickly. Then we walked quite a ways further to get to luggage pickup. Luggage was already coming up when we arrived & my Vera Bradley purple floral print was spotted right away. Just a few minutes and hubby's bag was coming around the carousel. Next we headed thru the "declarations" area where you turn in your declarations card that was given to you at the start of the flight. i had completed ours before the light had even taken off, but as usual there were folks filling them out at the last minute as we were In line to exit. Next it was on to the exit where our driver was waiting with his "Bonaparte" sign. All together from the time the plane landed until we were out the door was only about 45 minutes.

 

The outside of the Auberge Bonaparte :

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Dinner tonight was at Bonaparte Restaurant next door to our hotel. We arrived at the hotel at 8pm, had time to check in, drop our bags in our room and be in the restaurant by our 815pm reservation time. We were a little under dressed having worn nice jeans & shirts. Most of the clientele wore suit jackets open with no tie or dress shirts with sweater vests and the ladies wore nice slacks & dressier shirts. There were others in jeans so we didn't feel too out of place. We decide on the plate de hote menus (fixed menus with a bread basket and your choice of appetizer, entree, dessert & coffee or tea. Charlie chose the mixed salad with vinaigrette dressing, sirloin strip steak with herbed butter and lime meringue pie for dessert. I had a vegetable soup which was puréed, not the normal cut veggies like in the US, nonetheless it was very tasty. My entree was a stuffed chicken breast with pruciotto and cheese and a fresh fruit cup for dessert. We both had fingerling potatoes, sliced carrots, green beans & yellow zucchini squash with our entrees. I also enjoyed a glass do Syrah with my dinner, as well as took a glass back to the room. The set menu price was $34.50 which we though was very reasonable, the food was delish and in true French style the meal was long and drawn out taking around two hours.

 

Our room was on the 4th floor overlooking the historic Old Town Montreal. It was not overly large but had all the room we needed. The bed was comfortable, it had high 10 foot ceilings, beautiful hardwood floors, hi baseboards, lovely furniture. The very large windows even opened! I had to try them out, get a little cooler air flowing and hear some of the sounds of the city. It was a boutique hotel which I much prefer over a mass market hotel. It was raining when we arrived and was already dark so after dinner we turned in for the night, tomorrow's forecast calls for about 50% chance of scattered showers. Our plan is breakfast, which is included at the hotel, then a walking tour on our own.

 

The room at Auberge Bonaparte:

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Hopefully the pictures work as this is my first try at uploading to CC...

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Ok we'll that sort of worked! Can someone explain how to make them larger instead of thumbnail size? Thanks in advance for your help.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD

Edited by ace1zoe2

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We slept last night with one of the windows open which was very nice except when the early morning deliveries started. Hubby had no problem sleeping through them though. My alarm went off at 7:45am and I showered, did the hair & makeup thing and we were dressed and downstairs at the Bonaparte Restaurant for breakfast at 8:30. Breakfast was included in the price of our hotel stay, normally $15 per person. It included juice, a bread basket, your choice of yogurt or fresh fruit cup, your entree of crepes, French toast (with real French bread), eggs & bacon, breakfast sandwich with bacon, tomato, lettuce & cheese or one of several types of omelets, and your choice of hot tea or coffee. It was very tasty and very filling. I was able to exchange USD for CAD at no fee thru the hotel. I I paid $300 USD and received $294 CAD with the USD being a little weaker than the CAD. After a quick trip back up to the room to brush our teeth we were out the door to spend our day sight-seeing.

 

We left the hotel around 9:30 and headed out with my Montreal City Walks app loaded on the iPad. I had a tour planned out to visit several of the historic churches as well as downtown, the underground city and the Old Port area. We walked for miles at a leisurely pace and saw some unbelievably gorgeous architecture and history.

 

On the way to our first destination we saw this monument Place d'Armes which was directly in front of the Basilique Notre Dame de Basilique (Our Lady of Montreal Basilica)

 

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Notre Dame was built in 1829 and is open to visitors Monday thru Saturday 8:15am to 4:30pm. There was a $5pp entry fee for the Basilica but it was worth every penny, and we were allowed to take pictures. My only disappointment was that I left my flash back at the hotel in my camera bag so some of my pictures turned out darker than I would have liked. However once I get home I have some editing programs that hopefully I can play around with to lighten them up.

 

 

Exterior Shot:

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Interior Shots:

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The cathedral was unbelievably beautiful. You could spend hours and hours trying to see it all.

 

Continued...

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More interior shots of Notre Dame:

 

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I also made my first souvenir purchase of this trip at Noel Eternal a lovely Christmas shop we happened across. I got a blown glass Santa called Super Santa International Man of Toy Delivery. With tax he was $21.78, not a bad deal, now to see if I can get him thru 15 more days of vacation & then a flight back to Texas without breaking him!

 

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We walked down around the Old Port Area and they were having some type of Canadian Football League event.

 

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I've been looking forward to someone writing a NE/Canada report, so thank you very much already. :)

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my DH and I are thinking of this type of cruise and your review so far has been informative and so wonderful. Thanks for taking us along.

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While we were out I stopped in a shoe store for some comfortable walking shoes. I had looked at home before we left but couldn't find anything i liked. I lucked into finding a pair at my first stop for $39 which was a little more than i wanted to pay but my feet were hurting... at checkout they only rang up $14 so then i was doing the happy dance! yay me!

 

Finally, with more comfortable shoes we continued our walking tour. Old Montreal is a very walkable port with lots to see and do. You can easily do a self guided tour with a little research for basically free, no need to book an expensive tour.

 

We saw several other churches/cathedrals, some only from the outside, others inside as well, some small, some large. They were all beautiful examples of architecture and most had some extraordinary stained glass. Some of the ones we visited were:

 

Basilique Marie Reine Du Monde which is a quarter scale replica of St Peter's Basilica was dedicated in 1894, free daily 7:30am-6:15pm

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Church of Saint Peter and Paul built in 1859 features free noon concerts, open Sun-Fri 8-6, Sat 11-6

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Christ Church Cathedral an Anglican Christian Church was completed in 1859

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Interior of Christ Church

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More to come...

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Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel, free weekdays 11-6, Sat 10:30-6:30

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More church interiors:

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Some exterior shots:

 

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Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD

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We had lunch at Quiznos in the Under Ground City. Hubby had a Chipotle Chicken Sub, chips & drink and I had the broccoli cheese soup with a small ham & cheese sandwich which was $17. I walked next door to the Starbucks for tea as Quiznos didn't serve tea and got a Venti Iced Tea for $3. So that was a quick $20 for lunch.

 

Afterwards we walked back to the hotel arriving around 3pm. Hubby grabbed about an hour cat nap off and on. I had the windows open so there was the occasional honking, kids screaming and horse carriages passing by. I spent this time downloading my pictures to the iPad and trying to upload some to Facebook but couldn't ever get the Wifi to stay connected so finally I just decided to journal instead.

 

We have reservations tonight at 6pm at Bistro Duo. Our driver last night was very impressed that I had even heard of the place. He said it it very popular and reservations are a must so be thankful I planned ahead.

 

There was a 50% chance of scattered showers today but it was perfect the entire time we were gone out. We took our rain jackets just in case but never needed them. The temps were prob mid 50's with a light breeze. We were both wearing jeans & a long sleeve shirt and it felt wonderful. About 4:45 it came about a 10 minute shower and got cool enough to close the windows.

 

Well guess that's enough for now. Time to dress for dinner & see if we've decided to walk or call a cab.

 

Well it turns out we had to take a cab as the Bistro Duo D was across the interstate about a 7-10 minute ride and it starting raining lightly again. Cab fare was $9.20 so I gave him $10 since there was no luggage and he never got out of the car to open or close a door. We arrived about 5:45 and unfortunately they didn't open until 6pm.

 

We were rewarded with this beautiful rainbow:

 

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We ducked under an awning in a doorway & stood. Finally the proprietor took pity on us & unlocked the door and let us be seated at our table. The restaurant is fairly small with around 10-12 tables that could seat 4 each. Every table was already reserved for the evening and they were continuously turning people away both in person and by telephone. The owners are a husband & wife team and the only 2 employees. She was very friendly and the service was excellent. The husband was the chef so you could see him but he stayed in the open kitchen area. The menu was in French and featured around 6 starters, 6 entrees and 3 desserts plus a wine list and fresh bread. A fresh basket of bread and butter were served along with a salmon tuine with a crisp of some sort, something we've never had but enjoyed trying it. Hubby had mesclun salad and I had French onion soup to start. The soup was wonderful - caramelized onions, rich, thick broth, French bread & melted cheese. The salad was a large portion and very fresh with a vinaigrette dressing & slivers of fresh Parmesan cheese. We both chose the Steak Frites (Black Angus Strip) and I am not exaggerating when I say that it was the best steak I have ever eaten. The flavor was wonderful, it was moist, tender & cooked to perfection at medium, not too rare, pink throughout just the way I like it, served with a pad of flavored butter on top. Normally I would ask for steak sauce but this steak was perfect just the way it was. The entree was served with fresh cut French fries tossed with sea salt and they were also great. I also had a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon with my meal. The total with all the added Canadian taxes was $80.37, this meal was totally worth it. I rounded it up to $100 including the tip for the great service. The wife took a picture for us and called a cab for us. So taxi, tip & dinner was $120... Not the price range that we normally dine out in, but hey, it's vacation and we work hard the rest of the year to get to go out and do something nice for ourselves... We deserve it!

 

We were back at the hotel by 7:20, stopped by the bar for a nice glass of Syrah to bring up to the room and in bed by 8pm.

 

The plan for tomorrow for day 3 is to get up fairly early, breakfast starts at 8am so we'll plan to be up and downstairs shortly there after. The hotel is going to store our luggage after check out until we leave to go to Quebec City later in the afternoon.

 

We are going to take public transportation to Mont Royale to spend a few hours and then will be taking the Orleans Express bus to Quebec City.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD

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We began the morning at 8:15 in the Bonaparte Restaurant. Today we both had yogurt to start and hubby had crepes (French pancakes) which he said were very good along with a glass of OJ. I had a spinach & Brie cheese omelet and croissant with a cup of English breakfast tea and it was delish! We then checked out of the hotel and stored our bags for the day. I also exchanged another $250 USD for $245 CAD while i could do it for no fee.

 

We then walked two short blocks to the metro station where we purchased a 24 hour, unlimited pass for $8 each. This ticket worked on the metro subway line as well as the bus system. We took the subway to the Mont Royale metro stop where we transferred to the number 11 bus.

 

This farmer's market was right outside the metro stop:

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The bus took us up the mountain where we got off at the Notre Dame Cemetery which was acres & acres & acres. We spent a little time there then hopped back on another bus to the St Joseph L'Oratoire built in 1904. It features the world's 3rd largest dome. It has 283 steps that lead up to the top of oratory and it features a museum.

 

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View from the upper deck of the Oratory:

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Two million people per year visit the Oratory. The most devout Catholics cling the 99 steps leading to the front door on their knees. It's the world's largest and most popular shrine dedicated to the earthly father of Jesus (Canada's patron saint). The visit is free & is open daily from 7am-830pm

 

Up on Mont Royal you can also visit for free the Chalet du Mont-Royal for free but we ran out of time.

 

On the way back out of the park we stopped at a lookout point and took pictures. There were some very nice views of the Olympic Park and a bridge which unfortunately I cannot recall the name of.

 

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Olympic Park:

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We then headed back to the Mount Royale metro stop where we went back to the Place de Arms stop and ended up eating at Subway for $16. Then walked our two blocks back to the hotel where we picked up our luggage that we had in storage and they called a cab to take us to the bus depot, the cost was $10 with tip for luggage.

 

At 2pm we left Montreal aboad the Orleans Express heading to Quebec City. It was about a 2.5 hour ride which cost $56.80 per person. We had purchased our tickets online before leaving home. The bus also provided free Wi-Fi access throughout the trip which was rather nice and helped to pass some time. I used this freebie to upload some pictures on Facebook to share with our adult kids back home.

 

That wraps up our Fri evening, Saturday & Sunday half day in Montreal. Now on to our two & a half days in Quebec City. We will be boarding Brilliance of the Seas tomorrow, on Monday & then will get back off the ship to explore. We overnight in Quebec the first night so we will be able to get back off the ship on Tuesday for another day of sight-seeing.

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Cindy and Charlie,

So awesome to see your review!! You deserved this cruise so much! I cannot wait to hear all about it! We have such great memories of our Adventure cruise we took with you last year! Still #1 on our list! We have since done a Bermuda cruise last October and are eagerly awaiting our Spring Break cruise out of San Juan with Brooke....also on the Brilliance!

Your pictures are so gorgeous! I absolutely love touring old churches! Really looking forward to seeing more! We are looking for a cruise for this Fall...have thought about this itinerary...Thanks for doing the review!

Lauri and Mike

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Cindy and Charlie,

So awesome to see your review!! You deserved this cruise so much! I cannot wait to hear all about it! We have such great memories of our Adventure cruise we took with you last year! Still #1 on our list! We have since done a Bermuda cruise last October and are eagerly awaiting our Spring Break cruise out of San Juan with Brooke....also on the Brilliance!

Your pictures are so gorgeous! I absolutely love touring old churches! Really looking forward to seeing more! We are looking for a cruise for this Fall...have thought about this itinerary...Thanks for doing the review!

Lauri and Mike

Hi Laurie & Mike!

 

Thanks for your kind words. We had a great time on this trip. It is so different from seeing the Caribbean over & over. Lots of history & architecture..

 

Y'all & Brooke are going to love cruising out of San Juan! Which itinerary are you doing? We did one with our kids & spouses and the other with family friends. They were both awesome.

 

Glad to hear from you!

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD

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We arrived in QC around 5:40pm and took a taxi from the station to the Courtyard Marriott less than 2 miles away. This was the first time we felt we got took by the taxi driver, it was $10 for a 3 minute ride and he never turned the meter on. Oh we'll, live and learn.

 

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After checking in the hotel we changed clothes and got ready for our dinner reservations at Le Continental. The hotel called for a taxi that arrived in about 2 minutes. It was a 5 minute, at the most, trip to the restaurant & was $5 with the meter running.

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Le Continental was a very upscale restaurant, much more so than we would normally have eaten at (coat check, waiters in white jackets and ties, flambé table side, extensive wine menu, etc).

 

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The meal was very relaxed and was wonderful. We both had a glass of Pinot Noir with our meals. There was a nice bread basket.. Hubby had a colossal shrimp cocktail with a cognac sauce

 

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and I had lobster bisque for starters. The bisque was more lobster than soup and was the best I've had.

 

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Hubby ordered grilled salmon with a balsamic vinaigrette glaze and I ordered crab legs with hollendaise expecting it to be in the shell. I was pleasantly surprised when if was served in a huge portion and had already been shelled. I definitely could not eat it all.

 

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The desserts sounded great but there was no way we could possibly eat another bite! It's was expensive but well worth it.

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With 2 wines, 2 appetizers & 2 seafood entrees and a nice tip we spent $160... the most we've ever paid to dine out just the two of us. They called us a cab while getting our coat check and we were on our way. We got a crotchety old man for our driver who never got out of the car but did use the meter. Cost for the trip back was $5.20 & i gave him $6...he was yelling at us "thanks for my tip sir" as we were closing the door... Sorry... I'm all about tipping folks if they do a service for me, at the very least open or close my door, lift a bag, etc... But when you don't do anything except drive, the job your getting paid for... There is no extra tip. Kind of a funny end to the night. We were back at the hotel and in bed by 8:30. It's been an eventful day!

 

Our room at the Courtyard was nice and featured a king bed, which was mighty comfortable and gave us a great nights sleep. It was well located for exploring uptown which we plan to do in the morning.

 

 

Day 4, Monday 10/22, the day we board the ship!

 

We both woke up about 30 minutes before the alarm went off... Not sure why since the time is an hour ahead of our home time. After a quick shower & final packing we went down & stored our luggage for the morning. We just did express checkout since we hadn't added any extra expenses. Next we went to breakfast at the Que Sera Sera inside the Courtyard Marriott which featured a hot buffet for $15 or continental (cold) buffet for $12 with an al a cart menu available as well (cheapest item on menu $10). I had hot tea & hubby had juice. We had planned to order alacarte off the menu a $10 plate of muffin, croissant, chocolate croissant & brioche but they didn't have any croissants so it wasn't available. Neither of us were too hungry so asked if it was possible to just get an item or two from the buffet without getting a full buffet. The waitress advised that was fine she would only charge for what we actually got. I choose a small blueberry muffin & small chocolate filled pastry and hubby had a bowl of oatmeal & 2 slices of raisin bread. With drinks included it come out to a very reasonable $10.20 tax included & we left $13.00. Service was very slow with only one waitress servicing the entire room. Breakfast probably took at least 45 min to an hour.

 

We left the hotel about 9am & did a self guided walking tour around the Youville area, ice skating rink, the fortifications, .....

 

 

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Edited by ace1zoe2

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We were out about an hour or so when it started misting rain so we headed back to the hotel to claim our luggage and get a taxi to the port. The taxi arrived within 2 minutes and we were on our way. The trip was probably 5 minutes or so & was metered at $8.20 I gave the driver $12 including handling the bags. We were delivered right to the porters, the minute we stepped out of the car he had our bags loaded on the cart, $2 tip to porter. We continued a short distance across the lot, inside the terminal building, showed our boarding pass and were directed up an escalator, filled out a health form, went thru security, was directed to the priority line (we're platinum but it looked like all priority was in the same line) we were 2nd back and were given a group one boarding ticket. We were thru the check in process within 5 minutes then went to a seating area for another 5 minutes when they called group 1 to board. We were up the ramp, sea pass pictures made and on the ship within 5-10 minutes. We were the second couple onboard. It was the fastest and easiest embarkation of our 8 cruises. The ship was virtually empty other than crew-members so we spent about an hour going thru all the decks and taking pictures so there wouldn't be random people in all the shots. We checked out the dining room and found our table which was a two top on the upper the dining floor next to the window... That was the good news. The bad news...it was right next to the work station but it was ok with us. We also stopped by Chops to change our dining night to the 2nd formal night and they couldn't even find our reservation that I had pre booked and paid for online... So guess its a good thing we checked it out. Then we decided we better stop by Portofino's to make sure they had our reservation, which luckily they did. Finally about noon we headed up to the Windjammer for a light lunch. I had a slice of Magherita Pizza and salad and hubby had a burger. The Windjammer at this time had plenty of seating and wasn't too crowded. I think this had a lot to do with the ship porting here overnight, therefore lots of folks were boarding late and some even tomorrow.

Edited by ace1zoe2

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