Visit the archive to hear the best of the cruise performances on the July 23, 2011 show.
Day 1 — July 9th, Boston
Video highlights from July 9th
Day 2 — July 10th, Bar Harbor
Everyone was in high spirits when the ms Maasdam set sail from the Boston Cruise Port, and why wouldn't they be—old friends reuniting as they danced on the Lido deck under the sun, the salty ocean breeze ruffling their linen pants and carrying away what worries they had on the coastal wind. The waters were calm on the inaugural evening, affording multiple whale sightings and a relatively steady boat to keep dancing to the live music that never stopped once it started.
A handful of cruisers—who either went to bed early or never actually made it—watched the gorgeous sunrise as the ship approached our first port of call in Bar Harbor, Maine early this morning. Eventually, after a hearty Downeast breakfast of fresh caught lobster and sweet corn bathed in butter, lots of folks were off and running (or leisurely ambling) on guided hikes around Acadia Park, absorbing the incredible vistas at Cadillac Mountain. If only every day could start out this way.
Video highlights from July 10th
Day 3 — July 11th, Halifax
Last night's Welcome Aboard Show revue included the original members of the Hopeful Gospel Quartet, fiddles, folk dancing, nature talks, and some storytelling from Roy Blount Jr. and afterward we heard from some talented passengers auditioning for the cruise Amateur Talent Contest which takes place later in the week. The cruisers have gotten their sea legs and are fully adjusted to ship time by now, "time" being a vague concept because there's nothing to do but stroll around the promenade and take dips in the pool and snooze on a lounge chair when it suits you. (Or you could knit, sing with the Glee Club, take a Ballroom dance lesson...) The one constant keeping the group synced is the regular 5:00 happy hour.
We set our clocks ahead to Mari-good-time and arrived in Halifax this morning, our first destination in Nova Scotia. Lots of people strapped on their hiking boots and binoculars and went out for site seeing and bird watching at Peggy's Cove, and some strapped into kayaks to paddle out around the bays to gawk at the glacial formations — but the boardwalk at the harbor just off the gangplank was an idyllic scene on its own, with the schooners and yachts and tall ships docked and more fish-and-chip vendors than you could count. In the showroom tonight we'll hear some duets, and are looking forward to the late-night pool party and dessert bar later on.
Video highlights from July 11th
Day 4 — July 12th, Sydney
Apologies for the delay in updates — the time changes are to blame — we had to set our clocks back once again. Or, it may be our own fault for staying up dancing in the Crow's Nest until sunrise.
Yesterday morning we were introduced to Cape Breton just the way you'd imagine it — gray blustery skies and roiling waters, screeching gulls, and a bagpiper playing a mournful tune at Sydney's port. It was the perfect setting for serious existential introspection, and so after a walk up through town or drive through the rolling countryside, people were scattered around the ship scribbling in their journals, sketching the sailboats being blown across the harbor, or composing somber sonnets to the sea.
After all that soul-searching people were ready to get loose and dance the Quebecois-style square dance to the combined musical forces of our resident French-Canadian bands, Genticorum and Le Vent du Nord, who kept things lively and spirited until midnight up in the Crow's Nest, officially, but the last of the late-night revelers crawled into their staterooms about the same time the foghorns blasted at 5 am — perhaps a gentle prodding from the Captain.
In the middle of the ocean, you can be whoever you want to be, whether it's the life of the party or the quiet observer. You've got nothing but time and a ship full of good folks to spend it with.
Video highlights from July 12th
Day 5 — July 13th, Cruising the Saint Lawrence Seaway
The helmsman turned the ship starboard and headed into the St. Lawrence Seaway for a day of scenic cruising without any stops today, but if we didn't notice it's because there's enough activities on board to keep us occupied for months. PHC's resident naturalists Rich MacDonald and Natalie Springuel had people out on deck with their binoculars for the early morning sea-watching, hoping to catch a glimpse of some Beluga whales or Atlantic white-sided dolphins. Their sighting board began as one sheet of paper and has expanded to cover a full hallway leading into the showroom, overflowing with species both familiar and strange. Speaking of the showroom, there was a lot worth seeing there today during the amateur talent contest. From show tunes to vaudeville to ballads to guitar playing to stand-up, the unforgettable performances prove that we've got a very gifted bunch of people on our hands.
Tonight, we'll dine at our leisure, and will inhale the last whiffs of salty air as we watch the sun go down over the farmhouse-dotted Seaway coast. When we wake up, we'll be in the freshwaters of the St. Lawrence River in Quebec, ready to explore the city like voyageurs hungry for adventure.
Video highlights from July 13th
Day 6 — July 14th, Quebec City
Today, the APHC At Sea guests, staff, and crew took a much-needed break to recharge for the final show of the cruise and all the other farewell festivities.
Day 7 — July 15th, Quebec City
Just when our inner-equilibriums balanced to the slow rocking motion of the ship, we docked for an overnight stay in Québec City.
It's a chic, cosmopolitan place full of beautiful colonial architecture and rich history, but stripped of the pompous layer that would otherwise be categorized as French. The people are genuinely friendly here, and we chalk that up to the Canadian sensibility. Cruisers spent the two days soaking in the sun and sweating up the steep curving cobblestone streets, taking horse-drawn carriage rides, and snapping their holiday card photos somewhere along the big fort wall that encloses the old part of the city, where from any point gave a spectacular view of the city and ms Maasdam docked in the river below.
People looked sharp dining al fresco atop white linen tables at the bistros and cafes lining the narrow streets, whose scalloped and striped awnings and waiters speaking French made everything feel Parisian and romantic. In the spirit, some ate the très bien French fare, and others ventured into local greasy spoon territory and tried the Québec specialty of poutine, which is pommes frites smothered in a sweet-and-sour gravy and topped with fresh cheese curds.
Even without a belly full of wine the city glowed at twilight — the big stone wall and Notre-Dame de Québec Cathedral were illuminated; streetlamps and strings of lanterns casted off gorgeous light to see all kinds of street performers entertaining the post-dinner crowds. There was something for everyone — acrobats, fire jugglers, harpists, guitarists, fiddlers, and accordion players. Some got swept up in the spirit and started dancing Québecois-style jigs.
We said bon voyage to this lovely European outpost at 5:00 today, and are getting ready to say bonsoir to our new friends for our last night aboard the ship during the final APHC at Sea show and farewell party tonight in the Crow's Nest. Tomorrow morning we'll be in Montreal, and this memorable trip will come to an end, like all good things eventually do.
Video highlights from July 15th
Day 8 — July 16th, Montreal
Bleary-eyed and happy, passengers disembarked the ship this morning at our final port-of-call in Montreal. It's unbelievable how time flies on these cruises, but what else can you expect when you're in a state of perpetual motion. Some made a quick and painless exit and went straight to the airport, but a big handful chose to stick around Montreal and put off saying goodbye until tomorrow.
The original Hopeful Gospel Quartet sang their final numbers during last night's show and The Guy's All-Star Shoe Band kept things rocking in the Crow's Nest until better judgment shut it down before we could get carried away, but there was a good crowd that lingered when the lights came up well after midnight.
In 7 all-too-fast days we broke bread, sang, danced, and laughed together. It's only on these cruises we can really let our hair down — we eat more than is appropriate, stay up way past our bedtimes and might not ever crack the books we meant to read — but if we wanted routine, we would've stayed home. Thanks to all the passengers who made our voyage through the Northeast such a joyful and unforgettable experience. Until next time...
We had a wonderful time on the cruise, and we hope you did too. We've posted a journal of daily updates — notes, photos, and videos — that captured our time at sea and on stage. You can also visit the archive to hear the best of the cruise performances on the July 23, 2011 show.