Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Friday, September 28 Disembarking in Quebec

Today we get off the ship. We are up early to watch a beautiful sail in.

Then  have our last breakfast of smoked salmon for Dick and the wonderful blueberry pancakes for Carolyn and say good bye to Martin, our favorite server.

We are to meet the Canadian officials at 4PM, but we can come and go as we wish until then. Carolyn hasn’t packed yet so she spends two hours getting that chore done. Dick packs the cameras and computer cases and tries to get on the Internet, but finds our package has been closed out so he has to go up and get that fixed....they said we were getting off today, he says yes, but we paid for Internet for the whole 19 days! They open it back up. The other little irritant is that the stewardess doesn’t straighten up room this morning so Carolyn has to deal with the unmade bed and the messy bath all day. About 11 we had for the free shuttle that will take us to the Le Chateau Frontenac drop off point. We are screwed again and are docked in the commercial port behind a nasty grain storage facility out of sight of the old downtown area. It takes over 45 minutes to get from the ship to the drop off point, plus the shuttle only runs every 30 minutes...the NCL Dawn, a big HAL ship and the Crystal Symphony are dock right across from Old Town ...walking distance to everything! Here we thought that paying the price for a luxury cruise meant that we would get the best berthing places...at one time maybe, but not necessarily anymore. We also had this same problem on the Regent Mariner last year.

OK, we are finally off the shuttle and ready to check out Quebec.
Our plan is to get our room at the Chateau Frontenac
and then explore a little. It has been 25 years since we were in Quebec and it is doesn’t seem as impressive as we remember it. There is a problem at check in, they don’t have a room like we reserved available so they upgrade us to a corner suite on the 12th floor, but it won’t be ready until after four. We will have to go through the check in line again to get our room key...bummer...that is what we were trying to avoid, but we do get reservations for dinner in the hotel as our original room came with $100 food credit.! Oh Well.

It is a sunny day, thank goodness! However, the city is a mad house today with 7000 people off the ships milling around. We walk along the Terrasse Dufferin and take in the River views

then take the funicular down to Old Town.
We walk around Quarter Petit Champlain checking out some of the shops, the Fresque des Quebecois and the square with Eglise Notre Dame des Victories.

There are so many people it is hard to move around the narrow streets though, Since it is now close to 1 PM, we opt to go back to the ship for a last leisurely grill lunch. We walk along Rue Dalhousie in front of the various other cruise ships toward our docking area and finally find a cab. The draw bridge over to the commercial docks is up for some sail boats so we wait while the meter runs and the sail boats pass into the mooring area! Back on board by 2, we enjoy a nice fat hamburger and drinks at the Grill with a view. This sets everything right again and we enjoy the quiet empty ship one last time.
Promptly at 4PM our stewardess and a helper appear at our door to help get our luggage to the room where Canadian Customs and Immigration will see us. It is short and sweet visit and we are escorted off to a waiting taxi. The rush hour traffic is awfully and it again takes 45 minutes to get to the hotel. The hotel is crawling with Asian tour groups, but we get our room keys and are ensconced in our big, but slightly shabby two room suite on the 12th floor

with two corner turrets and great views out over the old upper town and river to the west, north and east.

Quebec is so hilly, Carolyn can’t walk too much, so we opt for a late afternoon carriage ride which is ridiculously expensive at $100.
The guide is informative and drives pass interesting colorful old buildings

the cathedral, Hotel de Ville,
Porte Saint Louis,
the Citadel, the Parliament, the Plains of Abraham

and Carolyn’s favorite the Jardin Jeanne d’Arc all decked out for Halloween.

The sun is almost down as turn back toward the hotel which gives us some interesting street scenes.

It has also turned windy and cold. Back in the room we fix some cocktails and enjoy the river view with the Sojourn sailing on to Montreal.
We go to dinner only to find that for some reason the reservations we made with the concierge at noon do not seem to show and the restaurant is a mad house with three large Asian tour groups taking up most tables. We think the only reason they even made an effort to seat us is that we are in one of the top dollar suites. We have some wonderful French onion soup and cream brulee’ and two glasses of water for $64! We weren’t really hungry after the heavy late lunch on the ship, but $64 for soup!!!

Just a few notes on the cruise. The itinerary was great, one we had wanted to do for a long time. We were however very disappointed in the three unscheduled tender ports...especially since our spot was taken by an NCL ship! Also no excuse for Seabourn to dock in the terrible commercial port in Quebec!

Over all we like the larger Seabourn ships over the small ones...the public areas are so much nicer and the balconies in the regular suites seal the deal because we won’t sail without one. Seabourn beats out Regent in that the smaller 450 passenger Sojourn is so much more personable than the 700 passenger Mariner. The regular cabins and balconies are larger and better furnished (more comfortable chairs and sofa) and the staff is more in tune to the needs of the passengers...we never wanted in any way for service.

The food is very good, much better than Regent...the beef was the best we have ever had cooked exactly as we ordered...every time. They would fix plates to Carolyn’s request on the nights nothing appealed on the menu. She is not a person who likes to order 24 hours in advance...never knows how hungry she will be that far ahead. The service was most always spot on both in the dinning room and room service...no delays in wine, water or course service or forgotten items like we experienced on a regular bases for 72 days on the Mariner last year.

The thing I wish they would do is fix some of the wonderful fruit soups, a spinach salad and some lettuce salads like the blue cheese wedge...there seemed to be very little fresh fruit and vegetables used in the meal offerings though you could airways get fresh fruits. In this respect, we really still like the small Princess ships...Ocean and Pacific and the HAL Rotterdam and Amsterdam and will continue to sail these ships in their spacious suites when they have an itinerary we like. Seabourn with its smaller ships is nicer, but Regent is really no better experience just way more expensive than what we get on the small Princess or HAL ships we like...except for signing for drinks and this is no problem for us.  

We really didn’t have any complaints and the petty little things were fixed as soon as they were mentioned. The passengers were about evenly split between England and the US with the Canadians and the Aussies tilting the scale in favor of the non US, English speaking passengers. They were passengers from many countries and 47 countries were represented in the crew. The one thing that Seabourn really excels in with the crew....they not only speak English, but really understand what is being said to them. This was not our experience on Regent with many of the wait staff. Everyone was pleasant and polite. Don’t believe everything posted recently on CC about the passengers or the ships.

We do wish Seabourn would go to no smoking in the rooms and balconies and the Observation Lounge. We were lucky in that there were no smokers to ruin our balcony and yes we did use it even with the cold weather. But one wet day, one smoker cleared out the Observation Lounge smoking!

We had 5 casual nights and two formal optional nights, the remaining 12, the men needed a coat.....this was two many on an almost three week cruise with lots of ports! Toward the end many men were coming to the dinning room with out a coat and the waiter would put one on the back of the chair which is silly. Some men wore the jacket like sweaters and were seated with out comment. We saw both men and women wore the colored dressy jeans with jackets and fancy tunic tops and nothing was said. As long as people look nice, not sloppy, it is fine with us. Seabourn does need to have more casual nights on the longer cruises...especially on nights when the ship doesn’t sail until 6 or later. Over all the dress was much more casual on all nights than three years ago even with the men still wearing jackets most nights.

No comments:

Post a Comment