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

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Day 3 - Halifax, Nova Scotia
This historic lighthouse greets ships to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

This historic lighthouse greets ships to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Halifax (c) Linda Garrison
Le Boreal wasn't arriving in Halifax until after lunch, so we had another leisurely morning on the ship. After breakfast, I sat in on the English lecture on whales by the naturalist Jose. Like the historian Sophie, his passion for his topic was contagious, and it made me excited about the possibility of seeing whales in the St. Lawrence seaway. While we were listening to the naturalist in English, the French group were hearing Sophie's presentation on Acadia in the theater.

I had lunch in the main dining room of Le Boreal. It was Italian day (they featured a different cuisine each day at lunch), and I loved the salad and lasagna. Dessert was good too--a yummy raspberry tart. It's not surprising that the French know how to make pastries, is it? One thing I noticed about the ship was the lack of announcements. It certainly adds to the the yacht-like atmosphere!

We arrived in Halifax before 2 pm, and we all had to clear customs by picking up our passports, speak to an official who stamped our passport and return it to the ship. Took a little while since some people didn't go down to the lounge until their names and cabin numbers were announced, despite three or four announcements in French and English, plus it was printed in the daily newsletter. The announcements were all the more annoying since the ship has so few.

Ships dock at a lovely spot in Halifax, and I wished I had time to wander along the pier area. Pier 21 is Canada's equivalent of Ellis Island, and 1.5 million immigrants entered Canada through this port from 1928 to 1971. Halifax boasts the world's largest continuous downtown boardwalk, which stretches for 4 km (about 2 miles) from Pier 21 to Purdy's Wharf. It looks quite nice, with many shops, bars, and restaurants. The Crystal Symphony and Silver Whisper were also in port, meaning about 1,500 cruise passengers were in Halifax that day. Some days Halifax has four large ships in port with over 10,000 passengers! Glad we were there on a light day.

Halifax is best known to me as the site where the bodies of the Titanic passengers were taken after its sinking in April 1912. There's also a memorial near Peggy's Cove remembering the 229 Swissair passengers and crew who died when their plane from New York to Geneva caught on fire and crashed in 1998. As the North American port closest to Europe, the city played important roles in both World Wars, and I remember how many USA planes were grounded there after September 11, 2001.

The largest man-made, non-nuclear explosion ever recorded occurred in Halifax during World War I on December 6, 1917. Two ships ran into each other in the narrow harbor (which is also the world's second deepest next to Sydney), setting one on fire. Many townspeople stood on the banks watching the scene, and others peered at the site through the windows of their schools, homes, or businesses. What residents didn't know was that one of the ships was an unmarked French ammunition carrier the SS Mont Blanc on its way to Europe. The other was a war relief ship, with no cargo. Soon after the accident occurred, the ammunition ship exploded and 2000 were killed and another 9000 seriously injured. All buildings for 500 acres surrounding the harbor were destroyed, and the explosion even triggered a tsunami in the harbor. Remnants of the ship were found miles away (a part of the anchor weighing 1000 pounds was found 5 miles away). People heard the explosion 100 miles away. Although it was winter, America immediately sent a train full of aide workers, who stayed for weeks helping with the relief effort and cementing the bond between Canada and the USA.

Le Boreal had two shore excursions in Halifax. One was a city tour of Halifax that visited many of the historic sites in the city, along with the Public Garden and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. I took the second tour, which was a half-day tour to picturesque Peggy's Cove.

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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