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Cruise Diva's CRUISE DIARY
~ Golden Princess Canada & New England ~

Part Two

Tuesday: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Noted as one of the principal shipping and shipbuilding ports on the east coast of North America and the "Gateway to Canada," Halifax is also an important center of maritime history and home to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. For my first visit to Halifax since 1997, I chose a tour focusing on "Treasures of RMS Titanic." 

The grave of the "unknown child"

It was from Halifax that cable-laying vessels set out to recover the bodies of the great liner's unfortunate victims. While performing that grim task, crewmembers also plucked bits of debris from the Atlantic. Now housed in the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic's permanent collection are one of the world’s only intact deck chairs from the Titanic, paneling from her lounge, newel post face panels, balustrade moldings, and a wall cabinet. The exhibit also explores the response of Halifax to the disaster. Through additional permanent and temporary exhibits, the museum highlights other shipwreck treasures. Before leaving the museum, I entered another era as I stopped in the ship chandlery, which looks just as it did in the early 20th century.

It was in Halifax that the maiden voyage of Titanic really ended. The city's citizens were in mourning, feeling a kinship as though the victims were their own. In fact, a local millionaire died in the sinking and a Halifax-born woman was counted among the survivors. Several cemeteries are associated with the Titanic tragedy and a visit to one demonstrates the difficulties of recovering and identifying the dead. The most poignant grave is the beautiful monument to the "unknown child," erected by a group of Halifax firefighters who carried the tiny coffin across town to its final resting spot.

Sound macabre? Such a tour could be, but our guide's respect and sensitivity for the topic made it informative and, at times, even lively. While our only stops were the museum and Fairview Lawn Cemetery, he shared interesting comments as we passed other points of interest.

Leaf peepers report: Not good. Halifax was hit by the devastating winds of Hurricane Juan and hundreds of trees were destroyed. The city was in the midst of a massive clean-up effort. 

If you go... Leave yourself some time to browse through the stalls set up by local crafters and vendors in the renovated area of the Halifax passenger terminal building.

Back on board Golden Princess it was Pub Night, a hilarious comedy show hosted by Cruise Director Paul O'Loughlin and his staff, assisted by "volunteers" from the audience. Even though I've seen the skit many times, the cruise staff's rendition of "If I Were Not Upon the Ship" had me laughing out loud.

Wednesday: St. John, New Brunswick 

St. John Reversing Rapids

In order to properly see as many attractions as possible during my first visit to St. John, I signed up for a "photo" tour. I figured the bus would stop for Kodak moments and I was correct. In addition, our guide was a professional news photographer who offered tips on how to get the best shots. Even with a point-and-shoot camera, his suggestions improved my composition.

Unfortunately, our tour was held up by several tardy participants. To the shore excursions staff's credit, they were rounded up and weren't left behind. However, the morning weather was rapidly deteriorating and by the time we reached our last two stops, the rain that threatened all morning was falling. Had we departed on time, we'd have completed the outdoor portion of the tour before the rain began in earnest.

St. John Old City Market

Despite the weather, we found St. John to be a charming city set amid scenic wonders. The "reversing rapids" were particularly spectacular during our visit—each day at high tide the enormous force of the water in the Bay of Fundy actually reverses the flow of the St. John River. Our final tour stop was the old city market, a colorful (and dry) photo op—beneath a roof fashioned in the shape of an inverted ship's hull.

Leaf peepers report: Rockwood Park was ablaze with gorgeous, albeit wet, color!

If you go... A nice touch was being greeted by representatives of the city who presented each woman with a rose and each man received a pin. Again, set aside time to browse through the stalls set up by local crafters and vendors in the passenger terminal building.

After such an invigorating (blustery!) morning, I was glad I had afternoon of indulgence to look forward to back on board Golden Princess. The Lotus Spa offers a complete menu of salon and spa treatments, but I made up my mind quickly—an Ocean Seaweed Massage combines seaweed, aromatherapy, and detoxification with a head to toe massage regime. Just the ticket for an afternoon treat. I wasn't disappointed as my therapist worked on shoulder muscles sore from lifting suitcases and tote bags... by the time I accepted a cup of lemon tea and dressed, I felt relaxed as well as invigorated.

If you go... Port days are an excellent time to schedule treatments in the Lotus Spa—watch for enticing special price reductions!

Gales of laughter from the Princess Theater drowned out the cheers of baseball fans in the nearby Player's Bar... Billy Vader was on stage and proving why he's a perennial favorite with Princess passengers. I honestly chuckled all the way back to my room after his comedy show!

Next --> Part Three -- Bar Harbor, Maine and Boston Massachusetts

Part Four -- Newport, Rhode Island

Part Five -- Debarkation and lasting impressions

Back to --> Golden Princess Cruise Diary Review, Index

Part One -- Embark in New York and spend a day at sea

Illustrations for Cruise Diary: Courtesy of Princess Cruises & © Author's Collection

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