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Le Boreal Travel Journal - Boston to Montreal 10-Day Cruise

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Day 2 - Bar Harbor, Maine and the Acadians
View from the top of Cadillac Mountain at Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine

View from the top of Cadillac Mountain at Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. Le Boreal is the small ship on the left, and the Crystal Symphony is the larger white ship on the right.

Cadillac Mountain in Bar Harbor (c) Linda Garrison
Le Boreal was not arriving in Bar Harbor until the late morning, so I had a leisurely breakfast in the main restaurant.

I walked around Le Boreal and took photos for a while before going to a lecture on Acadia in the main lounge. The ship did a good job of catering to both the English and French speaking guests. We had two expert bilingual lecturers--a historian and a naturalist. One would give a presentation to the 200+ members of the French group in the theater while the other was speaking to the 15-20 of us in the lounge. Then, they would reverse. I found out later that some cruises have about half French and half English guests. Ours was more lopsided than what usually occurs.

Acadia

It's always interesting to hear a different perspective of history. I didn't know much (or had forgotten) about how awful the Acadians were treated by the British when France lost almost all her lands in North America in the mid-1700's. About 14,500 were deported by force, with the British burning all their homes, churches, and crops. Families were split up and sent away on different ships to lessen the ability to re-unite. (Apparently Acadians were well-known for their love of isolation and their solidarity as a group.) Ships went from Acadia (now primarily Atlantic Canada province of Nova Scotia) to all the American colonies. An additional 2,500 went from Ile St. Jean (now Prince Edward Island) back to France. Some escaped and went to Louisiana, Grenada, and the Falklands. Genetic research has shown that "Acadian" blood is all over North America, the French islands of the Caribbean and French Guiana in South America, the Falklands, and France. The Acadian flag is the French tri-color with a yellow star in the upper left corner. The flag demonstrates the ties to France and the star is the symbol of Virgin Mary, the patron to mariners and Acadians.

 

Historian Sophie also talked about how the Norwegian Vikings were the first Europeans to "find" North America, exploring here and naming Newfoundland "Vinland" (land of meadows) during the years 1000-1015. The Vikings came to North America from Greenland but didn't settle here. They were looking for wood (no wood in Greenland) to make boats, use for firewood, and construct homes.

The English and French began coming to the area in the late 15th century. John Cabot was the first British explorer, arriving in 1497, followed by Giovanni de Verrazano in 1524, who was exploring for France (despite his Italian name). Guess it is like Christopher Columbus being financed by Spain although he was Italian. Verrazano named the region Acadia for the region in Greece named Arcadia, and at some point the "r" got dropped. Jacques Cartier made three voyages from France to Acadia (about 1534), exploring Ile St. Jean (Prince Edward Island) and the St. Lawrence River.

Samuel Champlain built the first settlement in Acadia at Port Royal (now in Nova Scotia) in 1605. He also explored the Bay of Fundy and parts of Quebec. Many of his men died from scurvy. The French and British continued to fight over the region. Acadia was like a ping pong ball, switching back and forth. In 1667 the Treaty of Breda gave Acadia back to France, but by 1689 the English were back in command, threatening to expel all the Acadians from the region since although they would sign "loyalty oaths" to England, they never stuck to them. Cornwallis started planning the expulsion in 1749, and after the Seven Year War (also called the French and Indian War) in 1755, the new British Governor Charles Lawrence made the decision to deport them.

The British soldiers divided families into different boats and burned all the homes and other buildings, along with the crops to discourage a return. Ships were sent to many different locations, and by 1763 France had lost all her North American colonies except the Magdalen Islands and Havre St. Pierre. The name Acadia disappeared since even if the Acadians returned, they could never get back their lands.

The Atlantic region saw many new immigrants from 1763 to 1864, with over 30,000 who were loyal to the King leaving the new USA and moving to New Scotland (Nova Scotia). Nova Scotia became more and more English and also more Protestant. Ile St. Jean was also settled by more British, and the name was changed to Prince Edward Island in 1799.

The years 1864-1873 was the evolution of Canada. The Charlottetown Conference set up the Union of Maritime Provinces in Sept. 1864, followed by the North American Act of July 1, 1867, which set up the Canadian Federation.

History can be pretty interesting, especially when you are "there".

Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park

Le Boreal arrived in Bar Harbor, Maine about 10:30 am, and the tenders started going ashore at 11 am. I was doing a tour at 12:45, so stayed on the ship until then. Took my Kindle to lunch and had a nice salad, along with a little shrimp and some stew from the French buffet.

 

Our tour group rode the 12:45 tender ashore, and I was surprised to learn that I was the only non-French person on the tour. The shore excursion staff told me to sit on the second seat behind the American guide, because he would speak in English and then one of their bilingual staff would translate into French and speak into a microphone. Surprisingly, it worked very well, and I felt like I had a private guide.

We drove through the small town of Bar Harbor into Acadia National Park, which was the first National Park east of the Mississippi River. It was established on Mt. Desert Island in 1919, mostly from land donated by the wealthy patrons who owned summer "cottages" here (the Rockefellers, etc.). I think it was kind of like Jekyll Island North. Acadia is one of the smallest national parks, but does still have an endowment that helps maintain the carriage roads once (and still) used by the rich to travel about the island. I've always called it Mt. Desert Island (pronounced like Sahara Desert), but learned on the shore excursion that explorer Samuel Champlain named it Ile de Desert in 1604, and it's pronounced "dessert".

We had two guides, who were both American. Mike was an ornithologist who routinely leads birdwatching and nature tours of the area. Wendy is a librarian by day and amateur botanist in the summers and on weekends. We first stopped at Sand Beach, noting that the sand is mostly ground up mussel shells--very coarse. The water looked frigid, but two kids were swimming and playing in the waves. Leaving the beach, we walked for about two miles along the coastline, with Mike pointing out many migrating birds who were all moving south. The path was fairly easy to walk on, but was right next to the road, so the only thing we saw that those who were driving probably missed was an eagle. It was a lovely day, and the walk was easy and helped us walk off our lunch.

We reboarded the bus and rode to the top of Cadillac Mountain, the tallest mountain in Acadia National Park. It was a gorgeous day, in the low 60's with bright sunshine. From the top of the mountain, we could even see Mt. Katahdin, which is over 100 miles away. Mike pointed out two other peaks in the far distance that are 130 miles away.

The bus returned us to the tender by 4:30, and I went down and had a spot of tea before getting ready for the Captain's reception and gala dinner. The ship sailed for Halifax at 5 pm.

Most of the guests had dressed up a little for the reception, with many men wearing coats and ties. Some women were dressed in sequins, but it was mostly elegant casual wear. I was surprised to learn that the Captain was one of the founders of the company (Compagnie du Ponant) in 1988, and has been a Captain for over 20 years. Although the company was sold to the CMA CGM Group in 2004, he must have been a real hands-on owner.

The Captain's dinner was excellent--a "set meal" with five courses. The menu started out with a chunky gazpacho amuse, followed by a scallop appetizer, a small dish of hot Maine lobster, and filet steak for the main course. Dessert was a delicious chocolate concoction with a nice sauce on the side.

After dinner, I went to the 10 pm show, which featured the five dancers (four girls, one guy), and a female singer. The show featured dances from around the world, and I really enjoyed it. The theater was small, more like a cabaret, so I was very impressed with how much dancing these five dancers could do on the small stage.

The next day we would be in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Le Boreal New England and Atlantic Canada Cruise Travel Journal

  1. Overview and Embarkation
  2. Bar Harbor, Maine
  3. Halifax, Nova Scotia
  4. Halifax - Peggy's Cove
  5. Louisbourg, Nova Scotia
  6. Iles de la Madeleine, Quebec (Magdalen Islands) - Morning Tour
  7. Iles de la Madeleine - Afternoon Tour
  8. Perce, Quebec
  9. Perce - Bonaventure Island
  10. Havre St. Pierre, Quebec - Niapiskau Island
  11. Havre St. Pierre, Quebec - Quarry Island
  12. Tadoussac, Quebec
  13. Saguenay, Quebec
  14. Quebec City
  15. Montreal and Disembarkation

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