It’s often said that cruising is the epitome of a rich travel experience, and we can’t argue with that! There’s something about vacationing on a ship, waking up to the vast ocean, and feeling the rush of the sea breeze that makes a cruise one classy holiday. This September, Shobha Rani, along with her friends – Indira Subbarami, Utpala Shanthi, Manjari, and Hemalatha – went on a 10-day cruise of Canada and the New England states of the U.S.; it was definitely an experience we wanted to hear about!
The group of friends set sail on the Norwegian Gem from New York Harbor, cruising past the famous Statue of Liberty. “There were a lot of fun activities on the ship,” Shobha tells us, “After dinner every night we would all troop to the Stardust Theatre to watch live Vegas-style shows!”
The travellers’ first shore excursion began at Saint John, where they got to see one of nature’s unique phenomena, the Reversing Falls Rapids, from atop the glass skywalk. Shobha informs us, “The rapids are created when the force of the Bay of Fundy collides with the mighty St. John River, forcing the river to reverse direction and flow backwards twice each day.”After spending three days cruising, the next anchor was at Bar Harbor. Located in Maine, the harbour is lined with eateries that serve “the most tender, fresh, and delicious lobsters in the world,” according to Shobha. “Driving through Acadia National Park in autumn with its fabulous yellow, orange, and red foliage was another amazing sight,” she goes on.
“When we stepped inside the walls of the Fortress of Louisbourg, in Nova Scotia, we felt like we were actually stepping back into the 1700s,” she recalls. “We interacted with French soldiers, sailors, and others who were all dressed in period costumes and performed period acts.”
The group then sailed on to Canada’s Prince Edward Island and docked at its capital, Charlottetown, the seaside town rich with historic charm and chill island vibes. They then went on to La Baie, one of three boroughs in the city of Saguenay. “The village charm instantly unfolds at the portside with men, women, and children dressed in period outfits,” Shobha reminisces.“The first things you see are the colourful painted houses and the gold and crimson-hued foliage in the lush hills beyond. The view is sure to take your breath away!” The group also got to visit a glass-blowing workshop, a cheese factory, and a family-owned alpaca farm here.
Quebec City is widely considered one of the most beautiful in the world. Ideally located inside the historic quarter is the iconic hotel Fairmont Le Château Frontenac. The city, with its breath-taking views of the St. Lawrence River, makes it one of the best cities in the world for walking. “At the Montmorency Falls souvenir shop we discovered the delicious Canadian Maple-flavoured chocolate fountains,” Shobha says, “The maple chocolate candy and leaf-shaped lollipops made of pure maple syrup are definitely a memory I will carry with me!”
When the group entered the next spot on their itinerary, Montreal’s Notre Dame Cathedral, they were totally awed. “The entire interior section was lit up with a blue glow radiating from the vaulted blue ceiling, dotted with 24-carat gold stars. There were also exquisite stained-glass windows all around,” Shobha tells us. “It was a sight to behold!” They then explored Quebec province’s famed Underground City. This wonder of a pedestrian network under the heart of Montreal links metro stations to shopping plazas for nearly 32 kilometres. “We came across the famed Canadian Ice wine,” she recalls, “Legend has it that this type of wine originated when a German winemaker accidentally let his vineyard freeze over and decided to make wine with the frozen grapes.”
Summing up her experience, Shobha concludes, “The sea below me and the sky above me. It made me feel small; it made me feel free. Once the sea casts its spell, it holds you in its net of wonder, forever.”