|Carnival Glory and the ports of Boston, St. John and Halifax|
July 9 - July 14, 2013
New England and Atlantic Canada
We sailed from Boston, Massachusetts to Halifax (Nova Scotia, Canada) and Saint John (New Brunswick, Canada) aboard Carnival's Glory. While the weather was not as nice as we had hoped, we were still very active at each port exploring the area and enjoying the local seafood. We were impressed with the ship and crew of Carnival Glory.
Part I - Precruise
We chose the Carnival Glory since they were the only ship sailing to New England in July when we wanted to travel there. This is our first time on Carnival. We have previously sailed on Princess to Alaska, and Celebrity to several destinations. Our group of 15 family members were here for a reunion in celebration of my mother's "diamond" birthday.
B. Cruise Critic
Cruisecritic.com was very helpful in securing key information for all of our ports of call and getting to know some of our fellow travelers before the cruise.
C. Choice of Route
This was our second time cruising the North Atlantic seaboard. We have previously traveled to St. John and Halifax and looked forward to visiting key sites away from the immediate port area.
D. Choice of cabin
We chose an inside cabin (7323) centrally located on Empress Deck 7. Our kids (aged 21 and 25) were next door in 7321 and my parents were in an Ocean Suite (7317) across the hall.
We paid under $600 per person ($120/day/person) including port fees and taxes (but not including airfare, tips, travel insurance, and incidentals) for this 5 day cruise. Note: I only include price information because it was requested by fellow travelers following my previous reviews.
We brought our passports which we got several years ago. Hint: AAA members can get really good passport pictures for free at AAA offices.
I insured the trip through Travelex, opting for their TraveLite product, which I concluded was a good choice due to: relative cost comparisons, ease of access and booking, good disclosures, excellent coverage for what I needed, and especially because their insurance is "primary", meaning that I do not have to involve any other insurance in the claims process. I had no interest in proprietary insurance offered by a travel agency or cruise companies because if either goes under your insurance is worthless and defeats the purpose. We bought the insurance within 14 days of our booking to assure there would be no questions about "existing medical conditions", although I am not aware we have any. Thankfully we never had a need for the insurance. Here are 18 great tips on How to Select Cruise Insurance.
H. Prebooking Excursions
We didn't pre-book any excursions. Instead, we rented cars from Enterprise in St. John and Halifax. We typically do not book any excursions with the ship. We find that the ship's excursions are pricey and crowded. We also find that well-researched private excursions let you see more and go more places. Our primary source of research is the Port of Call boards at CruiseCritic.com.
We packed for 2 Formal nights (blazer with dress shirt / fine dinner dress), and 3 Smart Casual nights (polo's and Dockers, blouses and skirts), in addition to enough clothing to cover us for 5 cruise days. Among the most helpful "extra items" we packed were battery powered alarm clock, shoe rack (we hang it on the wall and use it to hold all of our other items), rounded scissors, a digital camera, binoculars, highlighters, collapsible dirty clothes bag, insulated travel mugs, and an 9-inch clip-on fan to keep air moving in the cabin. We also made five 8x10 posters for our cabin door (one for each day, "If this is Sunday, it must be Boston!" and the like) and mentioning Cruise Critic in hopes that someone else on the boards would notice and strike up a conversation. The cabin doors are metal. We held up our signs with little magnets.
Part II - Embarkation
A. Boston, MA
We flew into Boston a few days early to watch the Red Sox play in Fenway Park on Independence Day followed by over 30 minutes of spectacular fireworks that night on the Charles River. Boston is a really fun city and we have visited Boston several times. Here are incredibly detailed information on the subway ("T") as well as some of the great tours, bars, restaurants, and events we have enjoyed in Boston.
If you are flying in on cruise day and wish to go directly to the ship, you can either take a taxi into Boston for about $30, or take the Silver Line bus. The Silver Line bus has a low step (about 6") that makes it easy to get on and off with luggage - certainly no harder than a rental car bus at an airport. The "SL1" buses have luggage racks and it is easier to get on at the rear doors.
From Airport to Black Falcon Cruise Terminal:
The Silver Line from the airport is currently free from the airport and leaves from the lower level of terminals A, B, C and in front of terminal E. Take Silver Line 1 (SL1) from airport to World Trade Center (WTC) station. Take escalator or elevator to transfer up and over the track to pick up the SL2 going in the opposite direction. Switch to SL2 at WTC and ride it a few blocks to the Black Falcon terminal. There are about 6 stops near the Black Falcon terminal (the bus basically encircles it).
The all-internal WTC (World Trade Center) bus station is now open. WTC is a new indoor station with escalators and elevators to transfer up and over the track to pick up the second Silver Line bus you need to get to or from the Black Falcon cruise terminal. Since it's internal, transfers are free. You can transfer at the "Silver Line Way before Manulife Building" station which is one station stop closer in each direction, but you'll have to pay to transfer.
In our particular case, since we were already in the city, we simply walked an easy six blocks (with our rolling luggage) from The Westin Boston Waterfront to the Black Falcon cruise terminal. Upon arrival at the pier, we turned our luggage and a tip over to the baggage handlers and headed into the terminal.
B. Security Processing and Boarding
Even though Carnival sent an email informing passengers not to arrive before 1:00pm we had heard there was a good chance we could board early in Boston. We were in the terminal by 11:00am. Security was very quick and check-in was smooth. It helped that we completed all of our documentation online before we left home. There is a large waiting area with two long lines (priority and regular) that feed into about two dozen Carnival employees who will process your documents and give you the okay to board. There was no one in line when we arrived. After processing, we had our pictures taken to imprint our mugs electronically on our cruise cards for use on the ship and when leaving and returning to the ship. We proceeded directly to ship and boarded on Deck 3. Rooms were not yet ready so we climbed the stairs to Deck 9 for lunch. All of the foodie areas on Deck 9 were open. The whole process from departure from the hotel to arrival on the ship was about 45 minutes!
C. Explore The Cabin
We were in cabin 7323, an interior category 4F cabin with 185 square feet. This is one of the largest interior cabins we have been in. (For comparison, Celebrity's interior cabins run closer to 170 square feet). We were located near the center of the ship, on the Empress Deck 7. Our interior cabin on this deck was accessed from the Port hallway. The cabin was extremely well laid out. Lots of drawers and enough room in the closets for our clothes. The bathroom has lots of room, storage, and a shower. Our cabin also had a desk and a pair of tables. Hangers and robes were provided. The desk featured a number of informational brochures including Tuesday's event newsletter "Carnival Fun Times". Our stateroom attendant (Hernando) and his assistant did a wonderful job throughout our cruise. Of note, we found the inside cabins really easy to sleep in. Since there is no window, the room stays dark --- making it really easy to sleep late or take a nap any time of day. It's also very quiet.
D. Tour of Ship and Search For Food
We found lunch at Guy's Burger Joint on Deck 9. This is by far the best hamburger we have enjoyed at sea! Hamburgers are hand-formed from fresh ground beef, grilled, and placed on a tasty bun. A condiment bar (with crispy bacon, grilled onions, mushrooms, lettuce, tomatoes, and other items) is located nearby to top off your burger. They also cook up some great fries to go with your burger.
Hint: locate the stairwell in the back of the Red Sail Restaurant on Deck 9 that leads up to the Fish and Chips station on Deck 10. This "hidden" area has over 50 tables that are rarely used. We ate all of our meals up there. The Fish and Chips station is also very good, but it will take most folks a few days to discover it. There are four buffet lines in the Red Sail Restaurant on Deck 9 (Two in front and two in back) with lots of hot meal and salad choices. We rarely ate anything off the buffet. Instead, we got really good food at the specialty stations (Deli, Guy's Burgers, Blue Iguana Cantina, Fish and Chips, and the Pizzeria). In the morning seek out the 3 omelette stations. One usually has no line. There is no extra charge for any of the food on this deck.
The ship is well laid out with ample sets of stairwells and elevators. We spent a couple hours exploring the ship. The Amber Palace theater is located on three decks (3, 4 and 5) and features stadium seating on Deck 5.
E. Lifeboat Drill
About 45 minutes prior to leaving port, we participated in the mandatory lifeboat drill. If you've never been through this drill, a loudspeaker announcement is made for all guests to report to your assigned muster station (as directed on your cruise card). After waiting for all passengers to arrive, you are directed on the proper use of the vest and given additional safety instructions. You do not actually board the life boats. We did not need to actually wear our life jackets to the muster drill. A final announcement will dismiss all passengers. The drill went smoothly and lasted less than 30 minutes.
F. Cruise Critic Meeting
On our first day at sea, we met at the Alchemy Bar for about an hour. The meeting was listed in the Fun Times. Just under 2 dozen folks swapped stories for an hour. The cruise director, Jacques De Lange, stopped by to greet us as well.
G. Dinner - 6:00pm First Seating
We requested a large table. We were seated with family at a round table for 8 in the upper level (Deck 4) of the Golden Restaurant. Peter, our server, his assistants, and Chubby, our Maitre'd did a very good job throughout our cruise.
Part III - Food!
Celebrity has a good reputation for their cuisine. We didn't know what to expect on Carnival. The meals generally met or exceeded our expectations. There was good variety. Meats were cooked to order. Yes, you could order "medium rare", and we never had to send anything back.
Glory has two 2-story dining rooms. The Golden Restaurant (midship on Deck 4) and Platinum Restaurant (Decks 3 and 4 aft) offered Assigned Dining. Early dining is at 6:00 pm and late dining is at 8:15 pm. The Golden also offers "Your Time Dining" on its lower level (Deck 3). Diners could dine at their leisure from 5:45 pm to 9:30 pm. There is occassionally a line. We had a pair of tables on Deck 4 of the Golden Restaurant and were very pleased with them.
A. Always Available at Dinner
Each night we had a new menu of items we could select for dinner which included about 3 appetizers, 3 soups, a salad, and 6 main entrees. The following items were also available every night: fruit cocktail, shrimp cocktail, fried vegetable spring rolls, Caesar salad, grilled chicken breast, broiled salmon, grilled flat iron steak, Indian vegetarian, southern fried chicken, hamburger, baked potato, steamed white rice, french fries, and steamed vegetables.
B. The Best Breakfast Items
The made to order Breakfast Burrito from the Blue Iguana Cantina, fresh made to order omelets from any of three omelet stations, and crispy bacon. I frequented the stand-alone omelet station, that will also fry fresh eggs for you, on the port side of the Red Sail Restaurant.
C. The Best Lunch Items
Guy's Burgers and fries, Blue Iguana Burritos, Seafood Bouillabaisse (fresh made soup with shellfish), Calamari Fritters, and the Fish (but not chips) from the Fish and Chips station.
D. The Best Appetizer
The appetizers were tasty and the selection very good. Each of us usually ordered 2 or 3 each night. We especially liked the tender escargot, stuffed mushrooms,
E. The Best Soups
The best soup on the entire ship can be found at the Fish and Chips station on Deck 10. It's a Seafood Bouillabaisse with mussels, clams, shrimp and fish served in a tomato and pesto broth. It's made fresh in a large pot several times during lunch right in front of you. All of the dinner soups were generally good, but not full flavored, and not always served as hot as we would have liked. The pumpkin soup was very good.
F. The Best Entrées
Prime rib, lobster tails, spare ribs, jerked pork loin, and the penne mariscos (seafood served on penne pasta with a nice tomato-based sauce) was excellent. Note that one entree each night was usually available as an appetizer too.
G. The Best Desserts
Yes, the warm chocolate meting cake is as good as everyone says it is when it's fully cooked. It's like a fluffy brownie with melted chocolate at the bottom. (When it's not fully cooked it's like a bowl full of hot chocolate pudding). We also liked cherries jubilee and the fresh tropical fruit plate. The best ice creams included: butter pecan, toasted almond, and the bailey's irish cream (the later two were served in the Emerald Restaurant). We also loved the ice cream available 24-hours a day in the 3 self-serve ice cream machines on Deck 9. We did not like the cheesecake. It's not a traditional thick NY Style cheesecake.
H. Room Service
You can order room service 24-hours a day. We didn't order anything from room service.
I. Midnight Buffets
I don't recall seeing a midnight buffet on this cruise. However, they do put out late night snacks from 11:30 pm to 1:00 am and the following items are available 24-hours: pizza, ice cream, coffee, hot tea, iced tea, lemonade, guava juice and orange juice. Note that milk (skim, 2%, and chocolate) can only be found on the buffet or restaurants when they are open.
J. Guy's Burgers
Not to be missed! Guy's Burger Joint on Deck 9 is open from Noon to 6:00 pm. This is by far the best hamburger we have enjoyed at sea! Hamburgers are hand-formed from fresh ground beef, grilled, and placed on a tasty bun. A condiment bar (with crispy bacon, grilled onions, mushrooms, lettuce, tomatoes, and other items) is located nearby to top off your burger. They also cook up some great fries to go with your burger.
K. Blue Iguana Cantina
Open from 7:30 am to 10:30 am for breakfast, and Noon to 2:30 pm for lunch. They offer made to order breakfast burritos and made to order normal burritos during the respective meal times. They also have a condiment bar with lots of fixings for your meal and well over a dozen different hot sauces. The burritos are very good. Hint: grab some bacon from the buffet at breakfast and they'll be happy to wrap it in your breakfast burrito. They don't have bacon at the Cantina.
L. Fish and Chips
Hint: Locate this early in your voyage. It's located on Deck 10, up the stairwell in the back of the Red Sail Restaurant. This "hidden" area has over 50 tables that are rarely used. We ate all of our meals up there. The Fish and Chips station is very good, and it will take most folks a few days to discover it. They offer the best soup on the ship, as well as fish and chips (skip the chips and grab the fries at Guy's Burgers instead), crisp fried oysters, and calamari zucchini maui onion fritters.
M. Pizzeria and Deli
There is dedicated Pizzeria open 24-hours and a Deli open from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm. Both are good. The pizzeria is in the back of the ship on Deck 9, while the Deli is in the middle of the Red Sail Restaurant on the Port side. The pizzeria features 5 or 6 personal pizzas which they will bake fresh for you. The deli has excellent, thinly-sliced deli meats, and will make sandwiches (cold or flat grilled) to order.
N. The Emerald Restaurant - Glory's Specialty Restaurant
We enjoyed a meal in The Emerald Restaurant on Deck 10 in celebration of my mother's birthday. The cover charge is $35 per person. Seating is limited and reservations are required. Service is very high end --- as is the food. What you are paying for is a special dining experience that is slowly paced that you won't soon forget. Our consensus favorites: soup = lobster bisque, salad = baby leaf spinach with crumbled blue cheese and mushrooms, main = 18-ounce spice-rubbed prime ribeye steak, an the chocolate sampler for desert. It included both of our favorite ice creams on this cruise: toasted almond and bailey's irish cream. It was a very pleasant 2-hour dining experience in a fancy venue with great food and outstanding service.
O. The Captain's Table
We did not receive an invite to join the Captain for dinner. This is generally reserved for the more experienced cruisers. We were not aware of anyone who received an invite on this cruise.
Part IV - Entertainment
Glory has a huge outdoor "drive-in theater" on deck 9 with plenty of stadium-style lounge chair seating. Popcorn is available. Unfortunately the movies couldn't be enjoyed on the three foggy nights due to frequent foghorn blasts.
The Glory's Amber palace theater spans 3 decks. Seating is reasonably comfortable on Decks 3 and 4 and very comfortable in the stadium seats on Deck 5. Sight lines are very good, except for a few seats that are blocked by support poles. Unlike Celebrity, there were no guest entertainers that performed here, no broadway style shows, and there was no live music. All of the productions featured canned music with dancing and live vocals. I gave up after the first show, while my wife was determined to see them all. While the performers were energetic, we felt the shows themselves were not worth attending. Most of the entertainment in this venue was REALLY LOUD.
The Camel Club Casino on Deck 5 is filled with the requisite slot machines, one craps table, a roulette table, a few poker and blackjack tables, and an electronic Texas Hold'em table. The casino was open while at sea and closed while in ports. The casino is a smoke-filled venue which reeks of smoke so bad you can smell it up the stairwells and your clothes will smell of smoke if you spend any time walking through it. Table minimums started at $5 and up. The casino workers were friendly and very willing to help newbies with any questions on how to play the games of chance. Hint: the casino sells its used decks of quality playing cards for only $1 while supplies last.
D. Spa Carnival
It is located Forward on Deck 11. We did not use the spa on this trip.
E. Outdoor Pools and Hot tubs.
There is a giant outdoor slide accessible on Deck 10 that has 3 or 4 loops and lands on Deck 9. It looked like fun and was wildly popular with the children. The pools and hot tubs saw lots of action on this cruise. While we did not use either, the hot tubs were reportedly cooler than most would have preferred.
F. Carnival Orchestra and Other Ship Bands
There is no Carnival Orchestra on this ship. In fact, there was a absence of live music on the open deck (9) and in the theater. There was a 5-piece band that performed in the casino, a duo and a really excellent guitar soloist who played in a couple of venues, and a sing-along pianist who played in the Cinn-A-Bar.
G. In-room TV
There were several closed-circuit ship channels, a few movies, and sporadic satellite stations available on the TV in the cabin. We mainly kept our TV tuned into the web-cam on Deck 9. The front-of-the-ship webcam was out of order. When cruising in an inside cabin, we like to keep the tv tuned into the front-of-the-ship webcam at all times. It acts as our portal.
H. Room Service
You can order room service 24-hours a day. We didn't order anything from room service.
I. Sporting Events
Sporting events were not available on the room TVs. ESPN and ESPN-2 broadcasts were only available in the cool EA Sports Bar next to the casino on Deck 5. They showed sports on several big screens and had two additional screens that could also be used for playing popular sports-themed video games at no charge.
There is no lack of things to do: movies, bingo, trivia contests throughout the day, ping pong, shows, culinary demonstrations, health and exercise seminars, casino tournaments, cards, and dancing to name a few. The activities staff was outstanding.
The Sports Deck on 11 features a jogging track, small basketball court and a small volleyball court. Deck 11 features a reasonably fun 9-hole mini-golf course. All sports equipment is free to use and can be checked out on Deck 9.
K. Comedy Club
This is the first ship I've ever been on that featured a dedicated comedy club. Found on Deck 5, the Ebony Cabaret Aft Lounge was home to 2 visiting comedians who each performed at least 4 times. Family-friendly shows as well as adults-only shows were performed. All of the shows were packed. Seating was good and comfortable. Hint: arriving just 20 to 30 minutes early will get you front row seats!
L. Parties and Tours
Unlike Celebrity which runs a number of parties with free drinks for repeat cruisers, birthday and anniversary celebrants, and a Captains meet and greet, we didn't notice any on Carnival. It could be were just weren't invited. Carnival did have a Captain's meet and greet with Captain Francesco La Farina.
There were more bars on this ship than anything we've seen on Celebrity or Princess. If you're on a prepaid liquor plan, or just looking to drink, you won't have to walk far to find bartender. We found the bartenders and servers to be efficient.
This small room appears to have been an after-thought. It was usually empty, and had very few books on its shelves. Apparently Carnival passengers don't read. They party!
Our outdoor movies and big-screen concerts included: "Remember the Titans", "A League of Their Own", "Journey to the Mysterious Island", "Men in Black 3", "Quantum of Solace", "Chicago", "Mamma Mia", "Jack & Jill", "Johnny English Reborn", "James Brown - Live at Montreux", "Cher", "Chicago and Earth Wind & Fire". Nothing was rated higher than PG-13. These were all on the big screen. Lots of other moviess also played on the TV's in the cabin.
Part V - Health Concerns
There was no smoking in the restaurants, show lounge, hallways, elevators, or inside any stateroom. Unfortunately, folks could (and did) smoke heavily on their verandas and in the casino. The air circulation in the casino was very poor. The casino smoke was less than hospitable most hours and so bad at times it could be smelled two decks up the stairwells. This was unfortunate since a lot of functions (like trivia and some contests) occur in the casino. We did not observe anyone abusing the smoking privilege in prohibited areas of the ship.
B. Pools and Hot Tubs
No problems were reported.
C. General Cleanliness of the Ship
The ship, it's cabins, venues, and restrooms were VERY clean. The cleaning crew did a great job!
To the best of our knowledge, there was no outbreak on our ship. Kudos to our fellow passengers and Carnival personnel for their personal diligence.
We had really smooth seas for most of the voyage, and we traveled at only 7 - 10 knots (about 8 - 11 mph). I get seasick very easily and normally wear half a patch behind my ear. I didn't apply it before we left and never needed it or any seasickness pills.
Part VI - Ship Notes
A. Ship's Crew
We were very impressed with the ship and crew. Very friendly and competent.
B. Our Stateroom Attendant
Hernando was very attentive. Upon arrival he made it clear he was there to serve us and our cabin and wanted us to ask him for anything. We never needed to bother him. He and his assistant kept the beds made, and cabin and bathroom clean and picked up. We also enjoyed the nightly towel animals left on our bed.
C. The Shops
Merchandise did not rotate very much. There was something on sale each day. The bottled booze prices on the ship were very attractive (but any purchases were held for you to take off the ship and not consume while on board).
D. Internet Service
There were about 5 or 6 computers with internet access available on the ship in the hard-to-find, almost hidden, Cyberspace room on Deck 4. The ship also had wi-fi available throughout the ship. No access was free. In fact it was relatively expensive and very slow. (You even needed to pay for internet service if you wanted to print your airline boarding passes while on the ship).
Even though the ship was packed with kids due to being a short, 5-day, summer cruise, with few exceptions, they were well-behaved. It's my understanding that the ship's "capacity" is just under 3,000 passengers, we reportedly had about 3700 passengers on board. Capacity on cruise ships generally assumes 2 passengers per cabin. Cabins with more than 2 passenger add to excess capacity. Our ship sailed at over 120% capacity. Congratulations to Carnival for a profitable cruise. While the ship was very full and some venues like the mini-golf and pools were heavily crowded during most hours, the ship felt busy but it did not feel over-crowded.
F. Dress Code
The dress was pretty relaxed. We did not see any tuxes on the formal nights. Blazers with a button shirt, or a button shirt with tie were pretty much the norm. We did see t-shirts and shorts in the dining room on formal night, and a white t-shirt in The Emerald Restaurant when we ate there. Frankly this was really disappointing. They should enforce some decorum of their dress code.
G. Deck Chairs
Yes, there was a lot of "saving" of deck chairs during the day. However, you could still find deck chairs on the ship if you look around in less obvious places.
H. "Hidden" Decks
Folks on the chat boards often spoke of hidden decks at the front of the ship accessible only through "secret" doors. We sought them out. There are no secret doors to hidden decks. There are very obvious wooden doors with portholes that lead out to fairly large decks for lounging or sightseeing in the front of the ship that are not utilized by many passengers. They can be found in the front of Decks 6, 7, and 10 as I recall.
Glory has a ton of photographers set up all over the ship's common areas and near the ship at each port. This ship had more display space dedicated to photographs than any other ship I've previously sailed on. The photographers, while plentiful and talented, were easily avoided if you didn't want your picture taken.
J. Fog Horn
The ship's fog horn works really well. It blasts loud and often when needed. We encountered a lot of thick heavy fog on this trip. It was so thick you could not see more than 20 feet at times. The horn is unpleasant and obnoxiously loud on the open deck, tolerable in the enclosed areas on Deck 9, faint in outside cabins, and silent in interior cabins. What's to get upset about? It serves a safety purpose.
Announcements are loud, fairly frequent, and intrusive. They get downright annoying when they disrupt your cruise to make announcements looking for a particular passenger.
We resist taking elevators because we like to pretend that taking the stairs during the entire trip will get us the exercise we need to fend of the extra pounds we would otherwise gain from all the food. It certainly doesn't hurt! When we did use the elevators, they were reasonably prompt and never crowded. Glory has plenty of elevators. We did notice they would get crowded before and after dinner, but we didn't care because we used the stairs anyway. The ship also has 4 glass elevators that run from Deck 2 to Deck 11 and offers views of the impressive Old Glory Atrium.
We went through customs in Boston upon our return. Basically just left the ship with our baggage and gave our declaration form to a customs officer with no waiting. This was very fast.
Part VII - The Ports
A. Boston, Massachusetts
Boston was our port of departure. It is a really fun city and easy to get around if you use their metro system of buses, subways and ferries. Rather than give you a taste of Boston in this review, please see our incredibly detailed page entitled: "A Week in Boston" which features information and images to assist you in getting ready for an enjoyable week in Boston. For a shorter stay, simply pick and choose those items that interest you most.
B. Saint John, New Brunswick (Bay of Fundy)
8:00am - 4:00pm. We berthed at the Marco Polo Terminal (formerly known as the Pugsley Terminal), which is literally right in town and close to the Harbour Passage Walking Trail. Upon arrival, women were presented a rose and men were given a lapel pin souvenir.
We prearranged for an Enterprise Rental Car and set out for the Village of St. Martins, about 45 minutes northeast of St. John. St. Martins, located on the Bay of Fundy, is a fishing village, home to two covered bridges, sea caves, and the gateway to the Fundy Trail. The Bay of Fundy tides are the highest tides in the world, rising and dropping as much as 47 feet. St. Martin's tides on Mac's Beach are a relatively pedestrian (but still amazing) 26-feet, rushing in and out of the bay twice a day. At low tide you can walk on the ocean floor. Mac's Beach is covered in smooth rocks, a result of the tidal action. It's also where you can find "Wish Rocks" --- a rock with a white line that encircles the entire rock. Local lore suggests that whomever possesses such a rock can make a wish. Once the wish comes true, you pay it forward and pass the rock on to someone else to make a wish. We arrived near low tide and could walk out into the rock-covered ocean bottom for a couple hundred yards without getting wet, and were able to collect a few cool "Wish Rocks".
From here, we drove 10 minutes to the Fundy Trail Parkway. There is a small admission charge. Due to the extreme fog that day we opted out and returned to Mac's Beach in St. Martins to search for more Wish Rocks. With the tide coming in, more than half of our hunting ground remained. Within another hour, the beach shrank to a just a few feet of rocks on higher ground. The time between low and high tide is about 6 hours.
We drove back to town and made a stop at Reversing Falls. It's really not a "falls" in the classic sense. It's really just rapids. The rapids occur when the rising tide coming in is fighting the out flowing river water. If you get there while the tide is rising you'll see the river water running inland from the ocean, which is quite an interesting sight.
I'd like to make a quick shout-out to Enterprise. This was our most pleasant rental car experience ever. We were picked up at the pier, driven to their office about 5 minutes away, were promptly assisted by one of their young representatives and were in an upgraded car (at no additional charge) within another 5 minutes. The return was also prompt. We filled up with gas at a station a couple of blocks away, returned the car and were dropped off back at the pier.
On our last trip, we walked to Reversing Falls along the Harbour Passage from the cruise area in about 50 minutes.
Exit the pier and turn left. Follow the red sidewalk along Water Street until you see a Moose on your left. Turn left and walk towards, and then around along the boardwalk in front of, the Hilton. Once you clear the Hilton you'll see an entrance to the Harbour Passage with a sign overhead and the red sidewalk once again. Follow the riverside trail until it dead ends under a bridge, then backtrack a little and follow the red concrete trail to the road. (Ignore all of the other forks you encounter along the way). Turn left and stay on the sidewalk next to the highway all the rest of the way. Don't worry that they failed to paint this sidewalk red. You will eventually get to the Reversing Falls lookout which once again will feature a Harbour Passage sign overhead and a red walkway. Most folks continue from here and cross over the bridge to the other side of the river for more impressive views. There are two restaurants and one has a short movie you can view. There are a number of good lookout points as well as a dock for river tours. Across the parking lot is an elevated park with great views of the surrounding area. If you don't want to walk back, you can catch the #2 Bus back into town. Catch the bus at the corner of the parking lot, at the entrance, across from where the restaurants are. Bus fare is $2.50 pp and it runs every 20 minutes. The ride will take just 10 minutes. Get off at Barbours General Store, about 2 blocks from the ship.
Back in town we visited the New Brunswick Museum ($8.00, AAA Gem) in market square. This family museum has dioramas of logging operations, intensive shipbuilding exhibits, artifacts recovered from sunken ships, art, whale and mastodon skeletons, a hall of stuffed birds, and children's discovery exhibits. Worthwhile.
C. Halifax, Nova Scotia
9:00am - 6:00pm. We berthed at Pier 20 which is the closest pier to City of Halifax. Once again, we rented from Enterprise. We walked to their office since their location was only 3 blocks away (just on the other side of The Westin Hotel) and near the Atlantic Super Store.
Our destination was Peggy's Cove on St. Margaret's Bay, less than an hour's drive from Halifax. Peggy's Cove features stunning scenery, one of the most photographed lighthouses in Canada, and an active fishing village. It's fun to climb on and around the huge boulders at the edge of the water. Following Peggy's Cove we drove to Ryer's Lobster Pound in Indian Harbour, just 1.5 miles and 5 minutes away. While not the most organized place, they cook and crack lobsters to order and provide bibs and butter. Several picnic tables are available so you can eat it while its hot. They are open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00pm.
After we returned the car we walked 1 block to Atlantic Super Store (grocery). It's a good opportunity to pick up a 12-pack of your favorite soda (made with sugar instead of corn syrup), or other sundry items you may have forgotten to pack.
Then we walked 5 blocks to the Alexander Keith's Brewery on Lower Water Street and attended their one hour tour. Alexander Keith is one of the oldest breweries in Canada, and located in an impressive early-1800's granite building. Admission is $20. I've never paid this much for a brewery tour before and wondered why a brewery tour could cost $20. Once you enter "the green door" you are transported back in time where an enthusiastic actor and 3 equally enthusiastic actresses in 1860's period costume bring 1863 Halifax to life as they guide us through the Alexander Keith brewhouse and taproom (where you are invited to drink pints of any of their four ales on draft. The Red Amber Ale is incredibly good). This interactive tour, inclusive of interesting facts, song, dance, and good humor is well worth the price of admission.
On our last trip we stayed in town and started our day at the Halifax Citadel. While it's easy to walk around town, it's a tough 30-minute walk up to the Citadel as it is mostly uphill all the way. We did it, as did many others, so don't let the hill dissuade you. Once inside the Citadel ($8 - 12 pp, depending upon the season, AAA Gem) there were a number of very interesting demonstrations by members of the 78th Highlanders regiment in period uniforms. They discussed each piece of the uniform, fired weapons, and demonstrated cannon movement. A 50-minute movie on the history of Halifax was also worthwhile, as were the museum displays. You'll enjoy panoramic views from the top of the fort as well.
Walking down from the Citadel was easy. We lunched at McKelvies (located directly across the street from the Maritime Museum). McKelvies is where you want to go to enjoy tender, buttery, melt in your mouth, Digby scallops, and lobster rolls (properly moistened with a little mayonnaise, and bits of celery and onion). It all goes down good with a Garrison Irish Red draft beer. This is where we enjoyed the best Digby scallops and lobster rolls on this cruise. The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic ($5 - $9 pp, depending upon the season, AAA Gem) has numerous ship related exhibits including the Titanic, sunken treasure, lighthouses, ship models, and other maritime artifacts. A short movie on the 1917 explosion in Halifax Harbour (the world's largest man-made explosion before Hiroshima) was very interesting.
D. Days At Sea
We had two days at sea. The first was very foggy. The second was relatively clear. We saw a few dozen whales, several sharks, and a few dolphins. The ship sailed through a large group of what I believe were primarily fin whales. While we did alter course to avoid them, they remained close enough to the ship to actually hear them blowing water out their blow holes. We whale watched for over 2 hours as we kept encountering them in the mid to late afternoon.
Back on the ship, there was no lack of things to do. Sea Days actually provided nice rest spites and allowed us to get reenergized. We slept in late. You can also eat, play games, attend art auctions, attend shows, eat, nap, cornhole competition, midday snack, cards, pools, bars, eat, trivia contests, shuffleboard, ping-pong, mini-golf, basketball, read, chat with fellow passengers, eat, board games, Bingo, eat, liquor tasting, shopping, gambling, exercise, movies... the list goes on!
E. Ships in Port
There we no other ships in St. John or Halifax while we were in port. Visit CruiseCal.com or the links provided above to see which ships are likely to be in port during your cruise.
Part VIII - Tipping
The service personnel on Carnival receive meager wages (about $70/month) and rely on your tips for income. We prepaid our tips prior to cruising, as well as some additional tipping. The Carnival guidelines total $100.00 per couple on an 5-day cruise. The tip guidelines break out as follows (per couple): Dining Team Service $55, Bistro Service $10, and Cabin Services $35. Here's a really handy Cruise Tip Calculator covering all major cruise lines.
You'll also tip for room service, bartenders (a 15% gratuity is already included in all bar drinks), Spa Personnel, baggage handlers, taxi drivers, tour drivers, and any other personnel who you wish to tip.
Part IX - Carnival's VIFP Club
If you have taken a previous voyage and are not a member of the Captain's Club, sign up. It's free. Benefits include a CC express line at Embarkation, priority Disembarkation, casino and spa discounts, cocktail parties, and more. VIFP Club benefits.
Part X - Disembarkation and Customs
On the final sea day, we watched a disembarkation video that played on a loop all day on a tv channel in our cabin. This worked great. On the morning of disembarkation, a full buffet breakfast was available in the Red Sail Restaurant. The omelet stations, Blue Iguana Cantina, and the full-service restaurant were also open.
Numbered disembarkation luggage tags were issued to all cabins, and passengers were instructed to place the tags on their luggage and set them outside their cabin before going to bed if they wanted a "Relaxed Debarkation". However you also had a "Self-Assist" option of keeping your luggage and simply carrying it off yourself. Those that carried off their own luggage were instructed to take their luggage to Decks 5 or 9 and wait for an announcement. Passengers who stayed in cabins on Decks 1 and 2 were dismissed first, followed by the upper decks. The first disembarkation announcement was made at about 8:00 am. After all of these folks departed, announcements were made for all other passengers to depart in an orderly fashion. Bags were laid out in the terminal in numbered sections were they could be easily claimed. Clearly those folks needing to catch plane connections chose to take advantage of the early carry-your-own bag option. We did, and thought it was great (We had a 11:10 am flight, and as it turns out we easily could have caught the 9:50 am flight).
As you depart the ship, you clocked out with your cruise card one last time, handed your customs declaration form to a customs official and exited the terminal.
We had no prearranged transportation back to the airport. Upon exiting the terminal, we walked to the extreme right to grab a taxi. We paid $25 including tip to get to the airport for our party of 4 with 6 bags. We were at the airport in 10 minutes.
If you prefer to take a bus from Black Falcon Cruise Terminal to the airport, there are about 6 stops near the Black Falcon terminal (the bus basically encircles it). Take Silver Line 2 (SL2) to World Trade Center (WTC) station and transfer to SL1. Use the escalators or elevators to transfer up and over the track to pick up the SL1 going in the opposite direction. Take SL1 to the airport. It'll stop at terminals A, B, C and in front of terminal E. Bring cash. The cost is $2.50 pp or $2 Charlie card. Depending upon time of day, it should take a total of about 20 to 40 minutes. If looking up schedules on the MBTA website, you'll find them under Subway > Silver Line. You won't find it under "Bus".
According to the U.S. Canadian Embassy, each U.S. citizen traveling to Canada is permitted $800 worth of Duty Free goods including 1 liter of alcohol per person. Smokers are limited to 200 previously exported cigarettes and 100 cigars. All you needed to do was to declare the total value. Anything greater had to be itemized (declared) and a duty paid. These limits haven't changed in over 5 years.
Part XI- Praises and Gripes
1. Embarkation and Debarkation can be a sore point. Not so with Carnival Glory in Boston. We practically walked straight on the ship after entering the cruise terminal, and departure was swift and pleasant as well. 2. Carnival Glory's personnel are very attentive, friendly and helpful. Our waiter spent a good amount of time at our table, and we got almost daily visits from the Maitre'd. Our cabin attendants were quick and efficient. Our cabin always looked better than we left it. 3. The food was actually pretty darn good when you seek alternatives away from the buffet. 4. The ship was clean and in very good shape. 5. The 2.0 upgrades were indeed impressive. 6. We only needed to contact maintenance once and they promptly took care of our problem: the vacuum flush system in our toilet failed one morning. We called guest services before breakfast and it was fixed before we returned to our cabin a couple hours later.
We certainly didn't have much to gripe about, although if you got any group of folks together, similar themes emerged: 1. Smoking in the casino and verandas was excessive. The casino absolutely reeks of smoke and you don't have to linger long before it becomes uncomfortable to breathe, and your clothes capture the smell as well. (The good news is we didn't lose much money in there as were couldn't stand to stay in the casino for more than 10 minutes at a time). For this same reason, trivia contests should not be held in the casino. It's also unfair to non-smokers who have paid for verandas to have to cope with some other passenger's smoke. Not a good deal. (If we take another Carnival cruise, would not even consider a veranda due to the permissive smoke). 2. The entertainment in the Amber Palace theater was disappointing. There is no live music and no Broadway style shows. 3. My parent's suite had a constant sewage smell after day 2, which grew a little fainter over time. (We understand a cabin down the hall had a problem that effected several cabins around it). 4. The layout of Decks 3, 4, and 5 could be better. These decks featured some rooms that are almost hidden and it's difficult (and sometimes impossible) to walk from the back of the ship to the front on Decks 3 and 4 due to the Golden Restaurant amidship. Instead you have to go one deck down or one deck up to get around the restaurant.
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