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med4bike

Crystal Symphony Review: Montreal to NYC (part i)

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CRYSTAL SYMPHONY CRUISE

MONTREAL TO NYC : OCT 1-12, 2004

FALL FOLIAGE EXTRAVAGANZA

 

We arrived a full day and a half early in Montreal before our cruise was to begin. Truth is that American Airlines only nonstop direct flight from Miami to Montreal leaves at 8:30 pm and arrives in Montreal at midnight. What a drag! The flight was quick and painless and, at that hour, arrived a bit early.

Montreal is an interesting city. We did visit the beautiful Notre Dame Basilica, the summit of Mt. Royal with its scenic view of the city of Montreal, but the downtown and business district was just like any other large metropolitan city. True, a day and one-half may not be a good judge, but .......... We stayed in the Auberg du Vieux -Port which is a lovely small hotel overlooking the St. Lawrence River, in the Old City. Wonderful small hotel, excellent breakfast and terrific dinner in their restaurant, Les Ramparts.

On the day of embarkation, we had seen all we intended to see in Montreal and we were anxious to join the Symphony, so we arrived about noon and we were served a delicious lunch in the main dining room. It does pay to board early cause Crystal meets, greets and serves a wonderful lunch (including champagne). Our cabin was ready about 2:00 pm and we were set for a terrific cruising experience.

 

Quebec City:

The Symphony spent the next two days in Quebec City. We loved Quebec City. It is a small, quaint, and enchanting town. We first took the shuttle bus to the Chateau Frontenac and walked that whole area. What a beautiful view from the Chateau’s boardwalk of the port and the St. Lawrence River! We spent a good deal of time here and listened to a dynamic musical duo playing and singing some old wonderful tunes, right in front of the Chateau.

From the Chateau, we took the tram down to the lower town and took a number of scenic photos of the harbor from the tram.

We did take two of Crystal’s tours in Quebec City; one to St. Anne Canyon and the other to Ste-Anne-de-Beaupre & Montmorency Falls. These were both terrific tours and we would highly recommend them. (We would have taken the shore excursion “Spectacular Falls of Quebec” which encompassed both tours but it was already booked when we inquired). St. Anne’s Canyon is a marvelous canyon with spectacular waterfalls. Unlike Montmorency Falls,which you only view from afar, St. Anne’s Canyon and Falls are a pure delight. There are three suspension bridges which you cross and view the falls in many directions and this whole Canyon/waterfall area is a photographer’s paradise. Our photos on this tour are the most colorful of the entire cruise. On both of these tours you visit the Island of Orleans and with the Canyon tour, visit the Maple Sugar Shack, which invites visitors to view the way maple syrup is collected in the Quebec area. Visitors also get to taste the maple syrup, which has recently been collected from the maple trees, frozen on a popcycle stick.

 

Sydney, Nova Scotia:

We were so looking forward to this port and a visit to the Fortress of Louisbourg. But the fates were against us here. We signed up for this shore excursion and after we boarded the bus, a Crystal rep told us that the Canadian government workers were on “strike” and the Fortress was shut tight. What a bummer!. Crystal did, to their credit, offer to change the tour and view Baddeck and environs, but we have been to this area many times and declined. We did get to visit the Town of Sidney and best to say that 15 minutes was enough. Well, as they say.... Can’t fight City Hall! Big disappointment not visiting the Fortress.

 

Halifax:

Weather was in the mid 50’s and great touring weather. Rented a car from Enterprise at the pier and drove to Peggy’s Cove, Mahone Bay and Lunenberg. We have been to Halifax so the city was not as interesting as the drive to the outskirts and small towns along the Lighthouse Trail. We found many small and quaint antique stores along this route and my BW was in heaven. Prices were more than reasonable.

 

Bar Harbor:

Very quaint Maine coast town. We have been to Maine many times but never this far north. We took the Olie’s Trolly Tour ( not offered by Crystal) and this tour was very entertaining and informative. We discovered this tour on the Cruise Critic board and it was all that it was cracked up to be. Tour visited Bar Harbor, Cadillac Mountain and most of Acadia National Park.

 

Boston:

Although I went to school about 50 miles from Boston and had wonderful memories of Beantown, the downtown area was just OK. We did tour the Boston area about 7 years ago, so this was just a revisit of sorts. We did not take a tour but the Crystal shuttle bus took us to Quincy Market. We looked around, visited Faneuil Hall, took my picture with the statute of the legendary Arnold “Red” Auerbach ( of Boston Celtic fame) and had coffee at Seattle Coffee House. ( my BW says the coffee is as good as Starbuck’s). The best tour we had was on the shuttle bus back to the ship. The shuttle bus driver was a history buff and took us past all of the historical sights in downtown Boston that a Crystal tour would have taken us to. Great deal!

We stayed in Boston about 2 hours and then went back to the Symphony for lunch.

 

Newport:

Love this little quaint town. We have visited Newport about 10 years ago ( when Jackie O’s home at Hammersmith was still open to the public) and loved this beautiful town again this time as well. We decided to do a small portion of the Cliff Walk ourselves and then visit Marble House and the Breakers.We purchased our tickets right in the Information Center near the Pier and then we boarded the Newport Trolley to Bellevue Ave, where all the mansions are located. Marble House was the smaller of the two but the detail here was amazing. This “summer cottage” was built by Alva Vanderbilt and her hubby in the 1890's, but she soon got rid of him. Seems as a result of this experience, she developed a major leadership role in the “woman’s suffrage movement” (my BW really liked this home and Alva's convictions). The Breakers was our last visit to the mansions and was built by Cornelius Vanderbilt II, at the turn of the 20th century (1890-1900). This is, I believe, the largest summer cottage in Newport, consisting of over 70 rooms. The views from both of these cottages are simply breathtaking. We could have spent more time visiting the Tennis Hall of Fame and the waterfront area. Next time!

 

New York City:

Well, what can I say about the Big Apple. My kinda town! We did a one night post cruise at the Drake Swisshotel (located at 56th and Park Ave) Great location. We met a few friends for dinner in the upper East Side. These New York friends ( and die-hard New York Yankee fans) did not realize that when we made our plans to meet for dinner. about 2 months ago, there would be a Yankee- Red Sox game that same night. Good sports that they were, they did not cancel and to show our appreciation, we showed up at the restaurant sporting NY Yankees caps and had one for each of them. They were very touched and said if the Yankees beat the Red Sox that evening, they would not take the caps off until the series is over. To be quite frank, for me to even put on a Yankee baseball hat is sacrilegious. I grew up in Brooklyn and as a Dodger fan, we, of course, hated anything and everything to do with the Yankees (who kicked our butts every year in the World Series, except for the divine year of 1955).

 

Fall Foliage:

Well, we were not disappointed with the wonderful fall foliage that we were witnessing in each port. The trees were at their brightest in the environs of Quebec City and our photos in these areas are outstanding. The trees in Maine was also full of wonderful bright red, yellow and orange colors. This really excites Floridians, who have one color for their trees, green.

 

Part II on next thread

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