I tried to be diligent about posting daily during my 10-day cruise from Boston to Montreal aboard Ponant’s Le Boréal, a sleek yacht-like vessel that carries about 200 passengers. But I was so busy having a good time during the last few days that I never mentioned the last two ports: Saguenay and Québec City – and those were two really excellent ports.
There were so many choices during our time in Saguenay: a hike in the national park, a kayaking excursion, a colorful stage show depicting the history of the region, starting with the discovery by Jacques Cartier. Best of all, there was a flight by seaplane over the majestic Saguenay Fjord – and if I’d known in advance that the weather was going to be picture-perfect, that’s the one I would have chosen.
Instead I chose a tour called the Discovery of New France, a visit to a restoration of historical buildings that had been built to be a movie set for a film called Black Robe. If my knowledge of French had been better – or if this had been one of the days when the interpretations were done in English, the tour would have been interesting and fun. As it was, the visit dragged for me, though I did enjoy meeting Ikweamik (Monik in English) a young Indian woman of the Montagnais tribe who showed us the artifacts used by her people when they hunted, cooked and carried on their daily lives.
That night was the second of our gala dinners; formal dress was optional but the food, delicious as always, was especially “dressed up” for the event.
Our final port (before departure in Montreal) was Québec City, and once again the weather was sunny and warm – perfect for our explorations along the cobblestone streets of Old Québec. The old town, the only walled city in North America, is a living museum – named a United Nations World Heritage site in 1985.
After a funicular ride to Upper Town, my group and I picked up a carriage ride at the Governor’s Garden and then took a scenic ride along the Grande-Allé, the city’s Champs-Élysées, passing quaint shops, sidewalk cafés, the Parliament Building, through the St. Louis Gate and St. Louis Street, finishing up where we started.
On foot, I explored the iconic Château Frontenac (especially the gorgeous and expensive boutiques in the lobby), snapped lots of photos, then strolled along Petit-Champlain street, where I indulged in some excellent ice-cream and a lot of people-watching before it was time to return to the ship.
After a long cruise, I’m always ready to go home, though this one was especially enjoyable and educational. I think the Atlantic Canada itinerary is truly one of the best, especially for those who appreciate the opportunity to leave from a home port. (Though Boston isn’t home, it’s a short plane or train ride away from New York – all in the same time zone.)
I think a small ship like Le Boréal is the best way to travel this itinerary, which included several ports that are great to visit but not accessible to the big ships.
Bottom line:This cruise goes down as one of my favorites.