maritime adventure

History, culture and charming seaside towns define summer cruises
to Canada and New England.
by Marge Peterson

We picked herbs from the French garden and cut up vegetables for a meat pie as our period-costumed interpreter at the Fortress of Louisbourg fired up the open hearth fireplace to cook dinner.


In title: Sand Beach is surrounded by rocky coastline that is a trademark of Acadia National Park. Maine Office of Tourism photo

Above: Fort Louisbourg is the largest historical reconstruction in Canada. Nova Scotia Tourism, Culture and Heritage photo

Garden and kitchen duty was one option offered on a tour to Fort Louisbourg in Nova Scotia. Another was the forge and military tour.

The day at Fort Louisbourg was one of many memorable experiences from my seven-day Canada and New England cruise aboard Holland America’s Maasdam, which sails between Boston and Montreal.

An unspoiled area

“This is one of the nicest areas to sail in, an unspoiled area,” said Maasdam Capt. Arjen C. van der Loo. “In the late spring and summer, we’re the only ship in town and the people love it that we’re there. When the leaves change, the other ships come,” he added.

Our first stop was Bar Harbor, which at the turn of the century was home to many of America’s wealthiest families including the Carnegies, Fords and Rockefellers.

A ride through the nearby Acadian National Park took us along the 27-mile Park Loop Road past Sand Beach, Schooner Head Overlook and the High Seas mansion built by a wealthy man whose wife perished on the Titanic. We stopped at the picturesque Thunder Hole and the top of 1,530-foot Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on North America’s eastern seaboard.

Back in Bar Harbor, I browsed quaint shops and bought a cone at C.J.’s Ice Cream and Yogurt, once a favorite stop of the late Paul Newman. A local legend tells about a woman who spotted him in line and got so excited she couldn’t find her ice cream after she left the shop. When she came back in, Newman told her, “If you look in your handbag, you’ll find it.”

Maritime History

The tour options in Halifax, Nova Scotia, reflected the city’s maritime history. Choices include the rugged fishing community of Peggy’s Cove; Grand Pre National Historic Site, which is dedicated to the Acadians who were deported in 1755; and Halifax Citadel, one of the most visited sites in Canada.

After a Halifax city tour, we strolled along the harbor boardwalk and stopped at the Waterfront Warehouse for a fish sandwich. Another stop was the Maritime Museum, which has a permanent exhibit on the Titanic disaster.

As a long-time “Anne of Green Gables” fan, I couldn’t resist the Ultimate Anne of Green Gables tour on Prince Edward Island. The first stop was the Anne of Green Gables Museum where an Anne look-alike with strawberry-blonde pigtails treated us to a raspberry cordial before we went on a horse-and-carriage ride along the Lake of Shining Waters.

Dance of the Whales

On the day at sea between Charlottetown and Quebec, we cruised down the St. Lawrence River where our ship was surrounded by beluga whales dancing in the water. We took a side trip on the Saguenay River to Saguenay Fjord, where the waters from the Atlantic Ocean and the St. Lawrence River merge.

The fjord was spectacular with its steep escarpments, hanging valleys, many islands and a 25-foot-high statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary erected high on a cliff in 1881. It’s custom for all ships in the fjord to play “Ava Maria” and make a 180-degree turn at the statue.

It was tough to cram the sites of the Quebec area into one day. But our “Best of Quebec and Countryside” tour tried, starting with a walking tour through the narrow cobblestone streets of Old Quebec, which are lined with bistros, boutiques and sidewalk cafes.

The imposing multi-turreted Chateau Frontenac, the best-known landmark in Quebec, was the location where Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King met to discuss strategy during World War II.

The ship’s final stop was Montreal, where some cruisers went on a final tour before heading for the airport.

Canada and New England cruises are popular in the autumn to view the brilliant fall foliage, but for those who want to avoid the crowds or for families, a spring or summer cruise is an excellent alternative.

Marge Peterson is a contributor from Ralston, Neb.

Mar/Apr 2009 Issue

Sail Aug. 29 on a seven-day cruise onboard the Maasdam that will depart from Boston. Inside cabins start at $999, outside cabins, $1,219. AAA members get a $25 shipboard credit. The ship calls in Portland and Bar Harbor, Maine; Saint John, New Brunswick; Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia. Call AAA Travel at (888) 366-4222 or click on for details.


Imaginative amenities on Eurodam
By Marge Peterson

Holland America’s newest ship, the Eurodam, will offer four Canada and New England cruises this autumn. The ship blends the best of the line’s traditional features with some exciting new amenities.

With an additional deck, Eurodam has 63 more staterooms than the largest Vista-class ship. Forty-seven are veranda cabins and 10 of them have ceiling-to-floor and wall-to-wall panoramic windows.

The 56 Spa Staterooms, which are close to the Greenhouse Spa and Salon, boast special in-room amenities including an iPod docking station, a yoga mat, a pedometer, fitness DVD, aromatherapy bath salts, a minibar with specialty waters, a cut-fruit tray and a spa concierge to assist guests with booking their treatments.

Dining options

The Eurodam offers more dining options than previous Holland American ships. In the Rembrandt Dining Room, passengers can choose the traditional fixed seating time or “as you wish” dining anytime between 5:15 and 9 p.m. Other choices include the reservations-only Tamarind, an innovative Asian-fusion restaurant, and Pinnacle Grill, a Northwest-themed eatery specializing in steak and seafood. (Surcharges of $15 and $20, respectively apply).

In the evening, one corner of the Lido is transformed into Canaletto, the no-fee Italian restaurant featuring antipasto, salad, soup, entrée and dessert. The pizzeria Slice made its debut on the Eurodam featuring pizza by the slice or 12-inch gourmet pizzas.

New Features

fortressPrivate cabanas are another Holland-America first. Fourteen of the cabanas are located in an area called the Retreat on the Observation deck and eight are located around the Lido pool. All cabanas come with two lounge chairs designed to accommodate two adults. The cabanas offer fresh fruit, chilled waters, chocolate-covered strawberries and a glass of champagne in the afternoon. Retreat cabanas are $45 on port days and $75 on sea days; the Lido cabanas are $30 and $50 respectively.

While cruisers have always been able to view movies, there’s never been a room designed specifically for that purpose. The Screening Room, with comfortable reclining chairs and free popcorn, offers current movies four times a day.

If you prefer live entertainment, the full-size Mainstage Theater features Broadway-style performances, comedians and accomplished musicians.

The Explorations Café, the ship’s coffeehouse, library and computer center, has moved from a spot on the main deck to a cozy corner by the Crow’s Nest Lounge on the top deck.


Above: The Retreat areas offer rental cabanas (left) to guests onboard the new Eurodam (above left). The ship, which debuted in July, will offer fall foliage cruises. Holland America photos

Below Left: The Eurodam’s amenities will make it a popular choice with cruisers for many years to come.

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