Maine Cruise: Final day

ONBOARD INDEPENDENCE-As our whirlwind week of cruising along the Maine coast nears an end, I want to take a moment before reporting on day 6 activities to tell you some things about our little ship – American Cruise Lines’ Independence – her officers and crew and the services they’ve provided during our all too brief voyage. Built in 2010 by ACL-affiliated Chesapeake Shipbuilding Corp. in Salisbury, MD, the 194-foot, 104-passenger Independence (one of a 6-vessel ACL fleet) …

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Maine Cruise: Boothbay Harbor, ME

ONBOARD INDEPENDENCE-Boothbay Harbor goes by the slogan “Boating Capital of New England,” and the sprawling harbor does indeed bustle with fishing vessels and pleasure craft alike. But the town is also becoming known as home to New England’s finest botanical gardens. Some experts name it one of the nation’s best. We visited Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens on an ACL tour (a $45 option) with no idea of what to expect. After all, we’re in Maine – which …

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Maine Cruise: Days 4-5 – Camden and Rockland, ME

ONBOARD INDEPENDENCE- Known by its slogan “Where the Mountains Meet the Sea,” Camden is yet another quintessentially pretty New England village. Set against the backdrop of the Camden Hills, the town’s busy harbor is well-known as home to a fleet of tall-masted windjammers that ply Penobscot Bay for both day-trips and extended excursions. A large group of passengers chose to join a narrated bus tour (a $55 option) featuring a visit to Camden Hills State Park where …

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Maine Cruise: The towns of Castine and Belfast

ONBOARD THE INDEPENDENCE –– Castine (pop. 1,400) is today a serene little village, shaded by leafy elms and lined with lovely old buildings, but it has a long and tumultuous past. Owing to its location at the tip of a cape, surrounded on three sides by water – including the entrance to the Penobscot River – it was a strategic defense point and thus the object of geopolitical squabbles among several nations, including France, Britain and Holland …

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Maine coast cruise: Bar Harbor & Acadia National Park

ONBOARD THE INDEPENDENCE — Clearing weather and the excitement of our first day ashore for tours brought out nearly all of the ship’s 90+ passengers to join a two-bus convoy in Bar Harbor for a morning spin around Acadia National Park. Our driver/guide, Roger Keene, is a jovial, highly energized fifth-generation resident of Bar Harbor – or, as he phrases it in the local dialect, “Bah Hahba” – who has been leading tours of Acadia for 40 …

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Maine coast cruise: Pre-cruise visit to Portland

ONBOARD THE INDEPENDENCE –– Melinda and I are happily aboard American Cruise Lines’ Independence  for a 7-day cruise along the Maine coast but I must first backtrack a bit to recap our pre-cruise visit to Portland, July 3-4, which unfortunately was accompanied by Tropical Storm Arthur. We didn’t let the foul weather derail our plans to explore Maine’s largest and most dynamic city, showing up at the Old Port ticket office of Portland Discovery Tours at 9:30 a.m. …

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Brand new fall Crystal Adventures ashore showcase east coast heritage old and new

Past and present: Centuries-old shipwrecks and the 9/11 Memorial.  Carriage roads built by Rockefeller and the trendy streets of today’s Brooklyn.  Classic steak at nineteenth-century Michelin-starred Peter Luger Steak House and modern gastronomy at three Michelin-starred DANIEL.  Contrasts abound with Crystal Cruises’ fall Canada/New England cruises, as the ultra-luxury line unveils two dozen brand new shore-side Crystal Adventures for five 2014 Crystal Serenity voyages.   Beginning in September, travelers can step back in time to some of the …

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The last day aboard the Veendam

ABOARD the MS VEENDAM — Decisions are difficult on the last day of a cruise – perhaps especially so on just a week-long experience. With all that packing for the airplane to do, should we also take another shore excursion? There are new friends to say goodbye to, remember. Do we go to the final performance in the showroom? What are we going to wear tomorrow? And that ever-present dilemma: If we accidentally pack the wrong thing – …

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Thursday aboard the Veendam

ABOARD the MS VEERDAM — Our ship has arrived in Halifax as scheduled, on Thursday, and for the first time on this short cruise, Sara and I decided not to go ashore. We have been to Halifax before, on a Crystal cruise from Europe and Iceland-Greenland. And on Wednesday evening we related some of our Nova Scotia experiences for the benefit for a few of our shipmates. Nevertheless, taking a cruise is not all shore excursions. The …

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Tuesday and Wednesday aboard the Veendam

ABOARD the MS VEERDAM —  Here we are on Wednesday evening, looking back on two shore excursions in as many days — one exciting and one a little less so. Yesterday, Tuesday, first found us at the dock in Charlottetown, the gateway to Prince Edward Island, also known apparently as “Potatoland.” This we decided to explore on a guided tour and learned, among other things, that there are dozens of kinds of potatoes and that the best …

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