ABOARD the MS VEERDAM — It’s Monday. June 9, and back home the world is probably beginning just another work week. Cruisers aboard our floating playground are enjoying a single “sea day” on the Gulf of St. Lawrence on their way toward exploring Canada’s Maritime Provinces.
On Saturday, we boarded the ship in Quebec City, a lively center of Canada’s French-speaking population. Unlike larger and more well-known Montreal, this storybook town seems to have dedicated itself to evoking four centuries of Gallic occupation, or at least preoccupation.
Our ship, Holland-America’s medium-size Veendam, was docked along the Promenade de la Pointe-à-Carey in the St. Lawrence River. This was conveniently near the centuries-old French buildings below and above the precipice that was once defended by an elaborate military complex. Today these ramparts and bulwarks are features throughout a vast stretch of municipal parkland.
Those who boarded the ship on Saturday, had the choice of dining aboard, although many opted for the short walk to the many sidewalk cafes along the Rue Sous-le-Fort and other narrow streets. Bien sur, French cuisine is a specialty – snips and snails and puppy dog tails? I can’t remember.
On Sunday morning, Sara and I took the small funicular up the cliff to see, among other things, the fortress-like Chateâu de la Frontenac. The massive castle-like old hotel is the city’s most prominent building. There we discovered that the restrooms were locked, with only registered guests equipped with keys. (Just wait until one comes along or comes out.)
Then we climbed aboard one of those open-top double-decker buses. In many cities of the world, I’ve favored this type of vehicle for its special photographic angles. Tickets were a little pricey — $35, but the guide was good and it was worth it.
On this tour we learned that a lot of features in town were the oldest, or the biggest, or the shortest, or some other superlative “in North America north of Mexico.”
Last night we enjoyed our evening meal with some new friends in the Veendam’s main dining room. Meanwhile the ship began making its way along the gradually widening gap, which we learned was actually a salt water river, subjected as it is to the tides of the sea ahead of us.
Back to today, Monday, most of the passengers are taking advantage of a vast selection of sea day activities like games, classes, or spa treatments while I in my cabin begin to sort through a vast collection of photographs. At the same time, I am grinding out a few words and uploading a representative sample to the World Wide Web.
Tonight we are looking forward to the Captain’s welcome and “Bob Mackie’s Broadway Showtime” in the Veendam’s large, two-story theater.
Tomorrow a new selection of Canadian capers will begin taking place at ports on each weekday before we reach Boston on Saturday. Let the fun continue.
June 9, 2014
Photos by Robert W. Bone