Port City

Cloudy and a bit foggy as we docked in Portland today, but the probability of rain was low. We continued to get lucky with the weather.

Portland has a long history as a fishing and shipping center, and during the 19th century it was a manufacturing powerhouse. It was Montreal’s ice free port from about 1860 until 1920 – the terminus of the Grand Trunk Railway. Now it is more of a financial, IT and tourist city.

We didn’t have to get up early and dash off the ship today. We were docked right downtown and all we planned was a walking tour of the Old Port area.

The Old Port is a series of redeveloped industrial buldings along Commercial Street. This 1904 Working Man’s Club was originally an alcohol free facility for Irish mill and dock workers. It is now an office building.


The old W L Blake building now features shops and condos. The area reminded us of the Cleveland Warehouse district, or maybe Binghamton with waterfront.

The harbor was just across the street. Commercial Street was originally built on old harborside pilings.

A reminder of Portland’s nautical heritage.

The Old Customs Building was built in 1872, after the disastrous Great Portland Fire. 150 years later it remains a Federal Government building.

More harbor views as we walked through the Old Port Area. This one gave me a sort of Vlaardingen NL vibe.

Time to do a little souvenir shopping at the Shipwreck and Cargo boutique.

On our way back to the ship, we passed the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum. Their tiny excursion train was just getting ready for another trip. All aboard!

Back on board now. We had a chance to see the Portland skyline before the fog started to close in again.

One of the many busy Casco Bay Ferries on its way to the Portland ferry terminal.

We had an early departure because of our longish sail over to Halifax. As a result our sailaway took place in daylight for a change. Here we pass the breakwater and lighthouse on our way out to sea.

These are the remains of Fort Preble, which was part of the Portland Harbor defenses for close to 150 years.

Nearly past the headland now, and the last of the buoys and channel markers.

Finally time to drop off the pilot, and set sail for Canada. Halifax, here we come!

The Park

It was a cool and foggy morning, and we had to be off the ship early for our excursion to Acadia National Park. We tendered in to the port with a large local tender boat.

We would have time after the excursion to see the town of Bar Harbor and we hoped the sun would soon burn off the fog.

Soon we were on the bus and ready for our tour.

It was a short drive to the entrance of the park.

John D Rockefeller commissioned many of the roads in the park – including the Ring Road – in the 1920s and 1930s. He was responsible for using these large coping stones as guardrails. The locals call them “Rockefeller’s teeth” and it looks as if they could take a bite out of your car if you weren’t careful.

We made a stop at the Thunder Hole where you can see the pink granite rock formations up close.

The sea views are pretty spectacular here.

Next we stopped by a tidal pool to get a good view of Cadillac and Dorr mountains. Cadillac is the taller one with the stone cliffs at the top.

Lots of birds hanging out in the tidal flats.

J D Rockefeller also commissioned a number of these classic stone bridges for the Ring Road and the many “Carriage Roads” in the park. These latter roads do not allow autos but they are great for hiking and biking.

When our tour was over, the bus dropped us back at the tender dock. We were able to take a walk through the town of Bar Harbor. This little park just up the hill from the dock gives a nice view of the islands and the bay.

Downtown Bar Harbor has some interesting buildings like the 1932 Art Deco Criterion Theater.

Buy your stuff here and you can look Cool as a Moose. Or maybe not.

After some walking we found ourselves at the Village Green. This large square was originally the site of the Grand Central Hotel but that building was demolished in 1899 to make way for the Green.

Another view of the Village Green with the shiny red BHFD trucks in the background.

Finished with our port visit we hopped the tender boat for our trip back to the ship.

It wasn’t long until the Adventure OTS was in sight.

We were back aboard and the wake of the tender boat was disappearing in the distance. Another great day of weather and a nice visit to coastal Maine.

Freedom Walk

The last time we visited Boston was in 1985, so we were happy it was our first point of call. The weather made a 180 degree turn and when we docked at the cruise terminal, it promised to be a spectacular fall day.

Next to the ship was an impressive building that originally was a military warehouse from 1918. It is now the Boston Design Center and the head office for the Samuel Adams Brewing Company.

Our “Boston On Your Own” excursion bus took us to a jumping off point near the Boston Aquarium, where we saw these Boston Harbor Tour boats.

Heading up State Sreet we couldn’t miss the Clock Tower on the old Customs House. It is now a timeshare condo.

It wasn’t long till we reached the Old State House. This is where the inhabitants of Boston first heard the Declaration of Independence read out publically.

This is the tower of the Old South Church. This former Puritan meeting house is now a museum. It was the site of many revolutionary meetings, and it’s where the Boston Tea Party got started.

It was a nice day to visit graveyards, so we stopped in at the Granary Burying Ground in Beacon Hill. This is the 3rd oldest cemetery in Boston, established in 1660.

Many Revolutionary War figures have their final resting place here – Paul Revere, John Hancock, and of course, Sam Adams himself. Interestingly enough – considering a famous beer was named after him – Samuel Adams was not a brewer. He did however, produce and sell malt to a number of Boston establishments before he got into politics.

Most of the granary tombstones are so weathered you can’t really see who’s buried beneath. However there is a large cenotaph dedicated to the memory of Ben Franklin’s parents. Ben of course made more of a name for himself in Philadelphia.

We stopped in Boston Common where we got this tather obstructed view of the “New” State House (built 1795.) Probably a good idea the tree was in the way, as the building is being restored and there’s all sorts of scaffolding and heavy equipment parked in front of the Capitol.

Moving on tto Tremont St. we saw the King’s Chapel. Originally the oldest Anglican Church in Boston, it has been a Unitarian church for a couple of centuries.

The King’s Chapel burying ground is even older than the Granary. It contains the remains of some Puritan philosophers plus (possibly) William Dawes, Paul Revere’s little-known riding partner.

Next we moved on to Faneuil Hall, a Boston marketplace and meeting hall opened in 1742. It’s pronounced “Funnel Hall” in Boston, although I doubt we’d say it that way in Ottawa. A number of pre-Revolutionary War protests and demonstrations and were held here. “No Taxation without Representation” as it were.

And of course, Mr Sam Adams put in another appearance at Faneuil Hall.

By this time we were finished shopping and sightseeing, so we had a rest at the Rose Kennedy Greenway, not far from the Aquarium. Then it was time to pile back on the bus to return to the cruise ship. A beautiful day to take a Freedom Walk in the “Cradle of Liberty.”

Rock and Roll

The frontal system that affected us in Bayonne moved offshore with us as we started our journey. The captain slowed us down to let the low pressure move ahead of us to the east. But it was a bumpy ride,

We were grateful we had a midships cabin in the center of the ship. It would have been a lot tougher at the bow or stern. Waves were about 3-4 meters high which is invigorating – even on a massive ship like the Adventure. The second day at sea dawned grey and choppy.

Later on things had brightened up considerably but we still had lots of rock and roll. It was fun walking around the ship. The water around here was only about 100 meters (300 feet) deep, so it was easy to get the surface stirred up. Would not want to be out here in a nor’easter.

By late afternoon things had calmed down a lot, and we were grateful to have a smooth sail the rest of the way to Boston. We have been on quite a few cruises, and this was probably the roughest start we’ve had in a while.

The Ship

In 2019, we enjoyed our family Transatlantic cruise on RCI’s 90000 GT Jewel of the Seas. Based on that experience with one of Royal Caribbean’s “smaller” cruise ships, we booked another Transatlantic for 2020 on the 80000 GT Rhapsody of the Seas. That one had a back to back Mediterranean cruise as well.

Sadly all of our plans came to naught. COVID put an end to our cruises, and we were left with a bunch of RCI credits which we had to use before the end of 2022.

The most prudent choice seemed to be a New England itinerary and for that we were offered the 140000 GT Adventure of the Seas.

Adventure – while not one of those RCI behemoths – was certainly the largest ship we have ever sailed on. She also carries more fellow passengers than any one we have cruised on.

But it turned out OK. There was lots of space on the upper decks for walking and photography. We had our cabin balcony for private viewing. We tended to avoid crowded events, and took the stairs rather than crowding into elevators.

One nice feature was the Royal Promenade where a number of shops, restaurants, and bars lined a 7 deck high central atrium.

One of the best spots to people watch was right outside our cabin on deck 8. The Internet lounge had some comfy chairs where you could watch all the Royal Promenade activity.

With all the water slides, ice skating rink, Flowrider surfing, and mini-golf, the Adventure of the Seas was a bit too family oriented for our needs. Besides I think we had less than 25 kids on this cool weather itinerary. However these features didn’t get in the way of our enjoyment, and I’m sure any younger folks aboard would have tried them out on the few warmer days we got.

I still consider myself to be a smaller ships person, and if and when we cruise again I’d be looking to sail that way.

The sleek and elegant Celebrity Summit was docked ahead of us in Boston. That’s my kind of cruise ship.

Sunny Days

She said not to dwell on it too much, but Maria has another birthday coming up on October 27.

As we get into our twilight years, the sunny days are appreciated more – and we had plenty of them on our recent East Coast cruise. Here is one of them in Boston.

Maria continues on her unselfish and loving way of looking after everyone close to her. In addition to sightseeing with me, she phoned her mother, texted her sister, shopped for me, for a friend and for the grandkids, and that was in about a four hour interval on that sunny Boston Saturday. It is only after everything and everyone else is taken care of that she’ll think of herself.

We had a great time as we always do – enjoyed the road trip and the time together as much as the cruise. I am grateful every day for her love and companionship. I love you dear Maria and happy birthday once more.

A Soggy Day in Old Bayonne Town

Oct.13 dawned cloudy and showery in Stroudsburg. The off again, on again showers followed us down Route 80, through Morristown and across the Bayonne Bridge to Cape Liberty. It was about a 90 minute drive and we timed it to get there just before our scheduled embarcation time of 12:00 noon.

We got parked easily enough, unloaded our luggage, dropped the suitcases at the terminal entrance. Then we were confronted with a massive security lineup courtesy of the Port Authority. We took our time and chatted with some fellow passengers-to-be. After we got past the X-ray machines, it was a painless embarcation. The new Royal Caribbean phone app helped us with paperless registration. Soon we were aboard.

As was to be expected, the Windjammer Cafe was an absolute gong show. We waited a bit, then finally were able to find a table near the stern, and get some lunch. Then I went up to take a photo or two. As you can see, the fabulous New York skyline was a little fuzzy in the rain.

I did get a fairly clear pic of the 9-11 monument though.

Looking astern you could see in the distance the I-78 Bayonne Bridge we had come over to get to the port.

The rest of our Cape Liberty view wasn’t all that stimulating – unless you like watching sandblasting and steam cleaning an old supply ship.

And what view of the Harbor would be complete without one of my grandson’s famous orange boats – AKA Staten Island Ferry?

Later that afternoon we were underway, passing under the Varrazano Narrows Bridge on the way to Boston. We hoped that this day of showers would not be a harbinger of things to come. Anyway we had a day or so for things to get sorted before our first port call.

Road Trip

One thing we wanted to avoid during this cruise holiday was airline travel. Canadian airports have been a zoo as travel has resumed after the COVID shutdowns. We didn’t need long lineups and lost luggage.

There are only two US cruise ports within reasonable driving distance of Almonte. Cape Liberty in Bayonne NJ is the closest – about an 8 hour drive. Doing that in one day is not possible anyway if you want to make the departure time at the port. So we made a road trip out of our journey.

Our travels took us through Syracuse, Binghamton, Scranton with a stopover in Stroudsburg PA. We saw some spectacular fall colors in the Adirondacks and Poconos. Even a snapshot from our hotel room was quite lovely.

In Stroudsburg we were able to do some shopping and pick up some Bonamine just in case of rough seas ahead. The weather was great – no rain, sunny skies on our drive so far. After a restful night we were ready to push on to Bayonne.

Down to the Seas Again

If I may borrow a phrase from the English Poet Laureate John Masefield, it was time to go down to the seas again.

It had been more than three years since our family’s Transatlantic passage on Jewel of the Seas. Maria and I had planned another Transatlantic – Mediterranean back to back on the smaller Rhapsody of the Seas in April 2020. Just the two of us this time.

Of course COVID happened, our cruises got canceled, and we received a bunch of “Cruise with Confidence” credits. Not that we were ever that confident. But we had to book something by the end of 2022 or lose our money. So it was that we ended up on the much larger Adventure of the Seas, with a New England and Canada itinerary.

We made sure we had lots of masks, got our 5th COVID shot. And then we crossed our fingers and hoped for the best. At the very least I would get to see “a grey mist on the seas’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.” It just doesn’t get any better than that.

Sweet Susie

When my youngest grandchild was born, our pastor in Almonte asked her name. I told him “Susannah.” He said: “Wow, that is really Biblical.”

I hope they were good dancers back in Old Testament times, because Susannah really loves to dance.

She loves to play cards and board games too – and she is as talented as her Mother was at that age. She loves to zap Grandpa just as much as the older two when it comes to Chase the Ace or Uno.

Susannah is doing very well academically, and it’ll only be a couple of years before she follows her siblings into middle school.

She’s started to call herself Susie lately and we old folks like that just as much as her formal, Biblical name.

We are sorry to miss her special 9th birthday tomorrow, but the kids manage to keep a birthday festival going for a week or so, so we’ll catch up after we get back from our holiday.

Happy birthday, dear Susannah and Nonna and Grandpa send you much love.

cww trust seal