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Cruising – New York, New England and Canada by Marilyn Baron

A Three Hour Tour

By Marilyn Baron

When we set sail on a 7-Day round-trip cruise from New York City to New England and Canada, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, I joked with my sister and her husband, who were accompanying my husband and me, about that familiar line from the Gilligan’s Island theme song, that we were embarking on a three hour tour.

Of course, we didn’t end up shipwrecked on a deserted island and we had a good time, but there were some surprises.

The trip was billed as a fall foliage tour. Supposedly, we were there at the height of the leaf change season. However, the most brilliant color we saw was when we flew back to Atlanta in our own backyard. It was mid-October, the last cruise for that ship this year and in every place we visited, the leaves either hadn’t changed yet or the hurricane that had just swept in had blown them all away.

Everything was going according to plan. The itinerary featured six ports of call, including visits to Bar Harbor, Boston, Newport and two stops in Canada. The first day we docked in Newport, Rhode Island, which was truly beautiful. I had never been there before and I plan to return some day. The harbor was breathtaking. We took a shore excursion called Grand Mansions of Newport, which took us on a narrated drive through Newport to see the spectacular coastline along 10-mile Ocean Drive and a tour of the Rosecliff mansion, where they filmed the ballroom dance scene in True Lies. The house and grounds were magnificent. We drove by Jackie Kennedy’s childhood home, Hammersmith Farm, a Victorian mansion, and St. Mary’s, the church where she and the future president were married. 
 

Rosecliff, one of the Gilded Age Mansions of Newport, Rhode Island, where they filmed the ballroom scene in “True Lies.”

The next day we went to Boston and visited The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum on our own and took an afternoon walking Culinary Tour of Boston’s North End Markets (also known as The Mangia Tour) with a local chef, in a section commonly known as “Little Italy.” We visited Maria’s Pastry Shop where we sampled sfogliatelle, amaretti, pasticiotti, torrone, marzipan and more. Then we stopped at a coffee shop, produce shop, and cheese shop, where we sampled DOP Sicilian unfiltered olive oil and Artisanal balsamic vinegar, along with several types of cheese. Our last stop was a Wine and Spirits store, where we were treated to a glass of Limoncello.

That afternoon, back on the ship, we went to the buffet and something was not quite right. Instead of serving yourself as we did the day before, the servers wouldn’t allow us to touch the food. Before they doled it out, we had to disinfect our hands with Purell hand sanitizer. I hate hand sanitizers. I don’t want to sit down to dinner with soap on my hands. I want to

wash it off first, but by the end of the trip, Purell and I were learning to coexist.

The next morning at breakfast when the server asked if I wanted syrup on my pancakes, I said yes.  I thought she meant did I want syrup on the table, but no, before I knew it, she proceeded to drown my pancakes in syrup and I lost it. I couldn’t eat the pancakes because they were literally floating in syrup.  “Are you my mother?” I said. “I can pour my own syrup.”

That’s when I knew something was amiss.

That night we found out why when the ship’s captain’s reassuring voice, cool as a cucumber, came over the loudspeaker, “This is your captain. As you may know (No We Did Not Know) there’s been an outbreak of norovirus aboard the ship.”   

Cowabonga! Yowie Gazowie! OMG! Holy Norovirus Outbreak, Batman.

Passengers were dropping like flies, confined to their rooms. Who had the virus? Who should we avoid? We decided to bypass the buffet for the rest of the voyage and instead ate in the main dining room or one of the specialty restaurants.

The next night the captain spoke to us again and relayed, “As you may know (again, we did not know) the norovirus is spreading.” Yikes. Apparently, of the 4,250 people aboard, 105 passengers and three crew members had such symptoms as diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting. Delightful! I’d heard that it was not unusual to find norovirus on a cruise ship because of its confined environment. But I’ve taken a lot of cruises and that had never happened before.

The third stop on our itinerary was Bar Harbor, Maine, where we took the Acadia National Park Scenic Drive and it was clear enough to see the view from the summit of Cadillac Mountain.    

A Whale’s Tail: In search of whales on a whale watching excursion in Bar Harbor, Maine

Then we took a whale watching tour, which guaranteed that we’d see whales or get a partial refund. We set out to where the day before they had seen a flotilla

of whales, exhausted and floating on the water after the hurricane and the next day they spotted what looked like hundreds of whales. But the day we went out we saw only the back of one whale and the tail of another (or maybe it was the same whale). One of them was the Right Whale, a species of which there are only 400 left in the world. So that was neat but the captain kept going farther and farther out until we reached Canada, our next stop on the tour. After five hours (on what was billed as a three hour tour) of listening to the naturalist’s voice drone on, and watching video of the whales we didn’t see, we almost missed the last tender back to our ship. But they did refund half of our fee. We were disappointed because on an earlier trip to Boston we took a whale watching tour and saw a “boatload” of whales.

 For our first stop in Canada, we took the Fundy Coastal Tour, where we were supposed to see the Bay of Fundy and the reversing river rapids. We never saw that but our guide took us to his hometown in the

Bay of Fundy, his house, the little red schoolhouse, and his grandparent’s house and he offered to sell us 11 acres of land at a good price. Then he took us to a sad-looking fishing village so we could use the porta potties.

Halifax, Nova Scotia, however was a nice stop. We took the Coastal Drive to Peggy’s Cove, which featured a stunning lighthouse on a granite ocean outcrop and I got to hold two live lobsters. Then it was back to town to visit a neat maritime museum with a giant whale and a moose at the entrance and I bought a nice silver sand dollar necklace at a marketplace.  The people were so friendly; they welcomed us with a rose when we disembarked. We learned a little about the history of Halifax and its ties to the Titanic.

On the last night at sea, we dined at one of the specialty restaurants and had Shrimp Bisque and steak and lobster, among other things. We must have eaten too much because in the middle of the night, I felt sick.  

“Do not tell anyone you’re sick,” my husband admonished. “I don’t want to be quarantined. I want to get off this ship.” I cleaned up after myself so my porter would not be suspicious. Did I have the nurovirus? I didn’t think so. I felt better immediately. I think I’m just allergic to shrimp bisque.

Seriously, even though my husband said he was never taking another cruise, we really did have a great time, aside from the outbreak.

How about your cruise experience? Care to share?

 

Sandra Elzie - February 6, 2011 - 7:44 am

The cruise sounds wonderful…one I’d really enjoy. (well, except the outbreak)

All the cruises I’ve been on were uneventful, thank goodness, and the fun and food was fabulous, so, so horror stories to tell.

Thanks for sharing with us today.

Sandy

Maxine Davis - February 6, 2011 - 8:38 am

Marilyn,
I STILL want to take that cruise and hope for no outbreak! Have taken a few cruises. The first three were many years ago when I taught and was a sponsor of the Sr. Trip (would NOT do it today) and we had about 42 kids and 4 other chaperones.

Took an Alaskan cruise last summer and loved every minute.

You make it all sound delightful!

Marilyn Baron - February 6, 2011 - 8:43 am

Thanks, Sandy and Maxine. I’m ready to go on another cruise! Now I just have to get my husband to agree. It’s a great way to travel. A floating hotel, no transferring of baggage and great food and destinations.

We also took an Alaskan cruise and it was wonderful. I can’t believe how beautiful it was and we had some amazing experiences, like a helicopter flight to a glacier.

Marilyn

Pam Asberry - February 6, 2011 - 8:54 am

Norovirus aside, this sounds like a wonderful experience, Marilyn! I have been on several cruises, all to the Caribbean; I think it’s time to expand my horizons. All my cruises have been wonderful; the only negative experience I had was sailing through the middle of a hurricane. The waves were coming up to the fourth or fifth deck of the ship; needless to say, the Lido deck was closed, and we actually lost power for a few seconds – THAT was freaky! I decided not to fight it, just took a Dramamine and retired to my cabin for a nice, long nap. Luckily, it was a sea day so we didn’t miss any of our ports. And my kids thought it was awesome! Thanks for sharing your experience.

Marilyn Baron - February 6, 2011 - 9:02 am

Pam,

Wow, a hurricane! I think that would be neat. I grew up in Miami and lived through many of those, but never experienced one on a cruise. I’ve taken some very pleasant and uneventful cruises to the Caribbean. There was one incredible windstorm in the Bahamas that nearly blew us off our feet but we weren’t actually onboard. We were returning to the ship. Thanks for commenting.

Marilyn

Marilyn

Nicki Salcedo - February 6, 2011 - 9:28 am

I haven’t been cruising, but its on my list. With current family demographics it will likely be a Disney cruise, but I’d rather see Newport! Sounds like fun and I’m glad you didn’t get too sick.

Marilyn Baron - February 6, 2011 - 9:34 am

Thanks, Nicki. We’ve taken cruises with our kids and they love it. They’re with us but they also have a sense of freedom to roam around the ship and participate in all the activities.

Marilyn

Art Dees - February 6, 2011 - 9:37 am

Sounds like you had fun, but I am sure you were a bit paranoid to be around anyone on the ship, in fear of catching that dreaded virus. Yuck!!!

There is so much to see here in the United States it is just amazing. It is almost endless. I have covered every inch and I am still in awe at the beauty around so many of the curves.

My last cruise was wonderful!!! Even though I was coerced into going by my wife (I thought I didn’t want to go on a cruise. I like the independence of being on my own), but it was one of the most enjoyable trips I have ever taken. Our beginning port was Barcelona, Spain, which is my favorite large city in the world. We cruised to Italy, Greece, and on to Turkey with a stop in Istanbul. Having a balcony on the ship made the trip even more wonderful.

There was nothing out of the ordinary, but 7/8 of the passengers on board were from Spain, and let me tell you, those Spaniards know how to have fun!!! There was Latin music playing throughout the ship all of the time and we danced until our feet were sore.

I am glad you had fun and glad you got home not too sick. I think I am done with cruises for now. I have gotten so sick of airports, flying and hotels rooms that you now have to check each and every time for bed bugs and that goes for 5 star hotels.

We are loving our new motorhome and plan to spend the summer in the great Northwest exploring many of the National Parks and of course the coast of Oregon, where the clam chowder is the best in the world.

Let me know what your next trip will be.

Dianna Love - February 6, 2011 - 9:46 am

Marilyn –

Love your sense of adventure and that you enjoyed your trip in spite of a couple issues. Adventures always come with issues, but it’s the way you deal with them that makes it a great trip or not. I’ve never known anyone who made this particular cruise so it’s very interesting to find about the specifics.

Marilyn Baron - February 6, 2011 - 10:17 am

Dianna,

Thanks for stopping by. Part of the reason we enjoyed the trip was because we were with family, my sister and her husband, and since my daughter lives in New York we got to see her at the beginning and end of the trip.

Marilyn

Marilyn Baron - February 6, 2011 - 10:26 am

Art,

I think I want to be you when I grow up. You always have interesting adventures. Of course I can’t ride a motorcycle, but –

We took a cruise that left from Barcelona and it was wonderful. I wish I could see more of Spain, namely Madrid and the Prado.

We also took a Greek Island cruise that went to Istanbul and that was an interesting place. It was more of an educational cruise and we learned a lot about the history of the area.

I agree with you about airports. Steve was stuck overnight at the airport in Washington about a week ago, no cabs, no hotels, during the last snow storm (there are too many to count) the first time that happened in his 35 years of traveling. My sisters and I were in Boston last week and sat on the runway for more than three hours until our plane took off. The plane had to be de-iced twice. And tthey didn’t have cabin service once they took off, because of turbulence.

Thanks for your comments.

Marilyn

Elaine - February 6, 2011 - 10:43 am

Marilyn,

What great photos! Thanks for sharing. I love the one of you and the lobster! And being a movie buff, I also liked the “True Lies” tidbit.

Sounds like an exciting journey. My one and only cruise experience was a 7-day Western Caribbean with a college friend, we went a few years after we both graduated. I am not aligned with shrimp and lobster bisques while on cruises either :)

The best part of the cruise was the people we were seated with at every meal. I still keep in touch with them and they send wacky Christmas cards every year. It’s been about 17 years since the cruise, but staying in touch w/them has been great.

Thanks for sharing, great post!
Elaine

Marilyn Baron - February 6, 2011 - 11:16 am

Yes, that’s another thing about cruises. You get to meet some very interesting people from all over the country and the world. We sat with a couple from London for one meal. You can either sit at the same table and dine with the same people or dine with different people each time.

Something about me and lobster bisque don’t agree, maybe it’s any kind of bisque. Although I had a sample at Costco yesterday and it seemed to be okay.

Another tidbit, if I’m remembering correctly, that same house was used to film parts of 27 Dresses. I think the upstairs bedroom was where the bride was trying on dresses or getting ready for the wedding. Apparently this particular house was used in several films. I thought that was interesting, too.

We were just in Boston last week and some other interesting things we did included visiting The Hub atop The Prudential Center (52nd floor) for drinks and desserts. You can see the whole city from there.

The restaurants in the North End are delicious (We went to Ristorante Saraceno and Ristorante Bricco) and you have to top off dinner with a trip to Mike’s Pastry Shop. We also went to the Museum of Fine Arts. Then we went to Legal Seafoods restaurant.

We stayed at a neat hotel, The Liberty, that used to be a jail and it is fabulous.

There are so many things to do in Boston, you can never do them all in one trip.

Marilyn

Tami Brothers - February 6, 2011 - 11:17 am

This sounds like a blast (except for the outbreak…grin…). Hubby and I took our one and only cruise thus far for our tenth wedding anniversary. Of course, like Pam, we were in the middle of a hurricane. Hubby got seasick, but I was fine. We were only able to get off the boat during the whole week for 4 hours in Jamaica, then back on. The other ports were closed. I have to say that it wasn’t the highlight of my life, but don’t plan to give it up completely. I am planning another trip next year with the whole family. Of course, I do plan to do a better job of PLANNING and make sure it is nowhere near hurricane season.

Great post, Marilyn! Thanks for sharing.

Tami

Marilyn Baron - February 6, 2011 - 11:30 am

Tami,

We have friends who, when they travel, almost always have things go wrong on their trip. A hurricane was one thing that happened to them on a cruise.

It’s a shame you didn’t get to go to all the ports. My daughter went on a cruise where they only made it to one port and then the ship kept circling for hours and never made it to the next port. They later learned that someone had jumped overboard. It turns out, it was an employee who was mad at her boyfriend, another employee, and wanted to jump off the ship to make him worry. She jumped with a life preserver, so she didn’t really want to hurt herself. Eventually, they found her and she was fine, but they didn’t make their other ports of call.

Marilyn

Amanda - February 6, 2011 - 11:52 am

I’m glad you didn’t get the Norovirus!

cathy - February 6, 2011 - 1:23 pm

Maria’s is my FAVORITE pastry shop in Boston. The canoli can’t be beat and I love the lobster tails.

Great post.

Marilyn Baron - February 6, 2011 - 1:50 pm

Cathy,
You were the first one to tell me about Maria’s.

Boston is such a great place (even when it’s snowing).
Marilyn

Marilyn Baron - February 6, 2011 - 3:06 pm

Thanks, Amanda.
Marilyn/Mom

Debby Giusti - February 6, 2011 - 3:36 pm

Marilyn,
Sounds like a great cruise…other than the virus, of course. So glad you escaped without the bug.

Love the pics and the lobsters! Yum! My fav food!

Glad you’re back safe and sound. :)

Marilyn Baron - February 6, 2011 - 3:56 pm

Debbie,
Thanks so much for visiting the blog and for your good wishes.

Marilyn

Linsey Lanier - February 6, 2011 - 5:54 pm

Marilyn, except for the norovirus outbreak, your post made me want to head for New York and sign up for that cruise right now. It sounded wonderful. I’d love to see New England that way. And I’ve always wanted to eat lobster up there. I’ve never been on a cruise, but I hear they’re great. For now, I’ll have to take them vicariously. Thanks for letting me do that.

Marilyn Baron - February 6, 2011 - 6:02 pm

Linsey,
It really was a nice cruise. I had always wanted to see those places too, and it was an easy way to do it.
Marilyn

Anju - February 11, 2011 - 1:03 pm

Marilyn,
great cruise… apart from the outbreak… but then life has its quirks. We visited several of the Newport mansions, ‘The Breakers’, ‘Marble House’ etc… and they are phenomenal. This history behind the mansions is even more incredible as was the lifestyle of the people who lived there. You absolutely must take an inside tour… each is about 3 hrs. We’ve done the whale watching too… and got sea-sick on the way back. Hope to go on a cruise someday… we’ve been hoping for 17yrs now… maybe one day it will finally happen!
Anju

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