QUEBEC CITY, Quebec I flew into this French Canadian City this morning – a place I ‘ve never been before — and ran into an old friend: Holland-America’s 18-year-old cruise ship, the Veendam.
Of course this veteran vessel has been upgraded a lot over the years. In 2012, I enjoyed virtually every minute of a two-week South America cruise aboard the same ship I can see it now as I write from my high-floor room at the Hilton. Sara and I will climb aboard tomorrow for a week-long cruise. It will begin in this unique French Canadian city and call at several other new-to-me ports before tying up in Boston Harbor on June 14.
Holland-America and other cruise ships represent a tourism renaissance in Quebec City over the past couple of years, according to Martin Lechance, manager of media relations for tourism in this old French-speaking city on the St. Lawence River.
“It used to be that Americans came for a short period in Autumn to view the turning of the leaves,” he said. “Now we have become a long summer destination.”
The city has responded to this renewed interest by creating a series of summer festivals, including the largest one for 10 days in July.
Although we were tired from an overnight flight from San Francisco, Sara and I nevertheless took a personal guided tour today with Caroline Lafrance, who loves her four-century old town. By the time we finished admiring the unusual art and architecture of Caroline’s home town, and the surrounding countryside, we pledged that we would return to explore it in more depth and in a more wide-awake condition.
If all goes well, we’ll at least leave the ship Saturday night to try one of the atmospheric French-style sidewalk cafes in the old town, which are in easy walking distance from the ship. Then we’ll set sail on Sunday, surrounded by a crew largely the same as the folks I got to know two years ago.
Friday, June 6, 2014
Photo by Robert W. Bone