Cruise Planners/Easy Access Travel just returned from a very successful trip to New York followed by a nine night cruise to New England and Canada. We had six participants enjoy a two night land adventure in the Big Apple and then we joined eleven more travelers on board RCCL’s Liberty of the Seas. We were blessed with uninterrupted sunshine and moderate temperatures, magnificent scenery and exceptional service.
I love New York so our time there was a real highlight of the trip for me and showing people around who had never been there before was even better! We saw two Broadway shows, Kinky Boots and Beautiful, ate at Junior’s Deli & Cheesecake and Carmine’s and rolled around Time’s Square. We even managed a late night stop at Carlos’ Bake Shop, home of the Cake Boss. Dodging the massive crowds wasn’t easy but we persevered for a taste of the yummy baked goods.
Everyone was very kind and considerate including NY’s finest; a policeman even stopped traffic for our little entourage! The theater people were amazing as were the restaurant employees. We stayed at the recently opened Hampton Inn on 41st Street. While the rooms were smaller than we would have liked (NY tradition), we all managed and the staff’s kindness and help more than made up for any inconveniences. Before we knew it, our time in NY was over and we were headed to Cape Liberty in Bayonne, NJ to board our ship.
Royal Caribbean is my “Go To” for accessible group cruises and Liberty of the Seas is a tried and true ship which always provides an outstanding experience. Part of the Freedom Class, Liberty boasts so many wonderful features including a Broadway Production of Saturday Night Fever. Liberty of the Seas will be having a huge renovation in January, 2016 after she makes the port of Galveston, TX her new home in late November. Many new venues will be added including specialty restaurants and RCCL’s first water slides. We have a 7 night Western Caribbean Cruise on board Liberty May 22, 2016 so come join us.
Our itinerary included the ports of Boston, Portland, Bar Harbor, St. John, NB and Halifax, Nova Scotia. I think I speak for most of us when I say the favorite stops were Bar Harbor and Halifax. As usual, we spent the first day and a half of our cruise exploring the ship and getting to know one another. Our first full day at sea culminated with Formal Night; it’s always fun seeing everyone dressed up.
The next morning found us docked in Boston. As was to be the case in every port, we awoke to brilliant sunshine and comfortable temperatures. Several of us took part in a private, accessible tour to Salem and the Witch Museum. We enjoyed the comfort of a large motor coach all to ourselves. Our guide seemed to be a little nervous dealing with all of our scooters and we were hoping she would “lighten up” but she just kept hurrying us along. Once we got to the Witch Museum we were introduced to a wonderful woman who would escort us through and explain the history of the witches to us. She was much more relaxed and enjoyed our sense of humor. In remembering my youth, I’m sure I would have been declared a witch! Once we arrived back at the port, we turned around and rolled a half mile to Yankee Lobster, a small fish market and eatery. I wanted everyone to experience their exceptional lobster rolls and lobster bisque. We all agreed it was worth the 30 minute wait for the delicious late lunch.
Next stop Portland, Kennebunk and Kennebunkport. Today we were integrated with the able bodied passengers so found ourselves on a fairly full motor coach. Everywhere we went was crowded but we still enjoyed the magnificent scenery. We drove through the city of Portland and then went out to Cape Elizabeth to the headlands to see the lighthouse. I really loved driving through the picturesque town of Kennebunk and then on to the seaside village of Kennebunkport. Brought back lots of great memories of my time in Newport Beach, CA. I am just drawn to communities with boats, shopping and restaurants. Picked up a very good fresh crabmeat sandwich at a little stand and had fresh squeezed lemonade. We passed by the Bush Estate on our drive back to the ship. I would love to come back here someday and visit the original LL Bean Store!
We didn’t know it when we woke up on Day 5 but Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park and Cadillac Mountain were about to become etched in our memories as one of the highlights of this cruise. I had some anxiety about this port as Bar Harbor can only be accessed by tender boats. This often presents major problems for wheelchair and scooter users and anyone with mobility/balance issues. I had many pre-cruise conversations with Royal Caribbean regarding the need for my clients to be able to disembark and I was hoping beyond hope that large vessels with roll-on access would be used. Indeed they were….a floating dock of sorts with ramps to the whale watching vessels was used to get everyone ashore. Crew was very helpful and worked hard to insure everyone’s safety.
We were back to having a private tour for our small group but still had the luxury of a full size motor coach. Our driver, Tom, and our guide, Gerry, both proved to be wonderful. Gerry was a little over protective but extremely nice and knowledgeable. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking as we hugged the rugged coastline above the Atlantic Ocean. We had a few photo stops and then headed back down to the quaint village of Bar Harbor. We all decided that this is where we wanted to live. We will probably change our minds when the first snow storm and Nor’Easter hits! Lunch was included in our tour at the Bar Harbor Club and it was an authentic Lobster Bake. Everyone had a whole lobster, corn on the cob, boiled potatoes, cole slaw, mussels and blueberry pie. Gerry went around and took the lobster out of the shell for us and believe me when I say it was “finger lickin’ good”.
Lobster and blueberries are basics in the diets of folks in Maine. I wouldn’t mind having a diet of these on a steady basis either.
After lunch and time to take some pictures, we headed up to the summit of Cadillac Mountain with more amazing scenery. Truly spectacular. Ended the day with some shopping in town at a store where all the products are made in Maine. We all supported the local economy and then headed back to the line for the tenders. It was a long line so enjoyed some ice cream while we waited. Decided to skip dinner and go to the early show of Saturday Night Fever. I had forgotten what great music that show has.
We got to sleep in the next morning and enjoy a late start for our day of touring in St. John, New Brunswick. Our private tour today was on an accessible mini-bus for 6 of us. Our guide, Brenda, and our driver, Kirby, were even better than the day before and more than made up for the fact that St. John was not the most exciting place to visit. The highlight of St. John is the Bay of Fundy with its 28-30 foot tide differentials every six hours as well as the famous Reversing Rapids which change direction with the tides. The tour lasted six hours so we were able to see the rapids coming and going and to experience both high and low tides. Pretty interesting! As you probably have surmised by now, no tour is complete without a stop for food. This time it was at the Caves on the beach and we enjoyed delicious fish chowder and hot rolls. The tour was to end at a pub for a drink but we were all tired and opted out. Kirby decided to make a special stop at a local ice cream store. The young lady came out to the bus and read us all the flavors. Most of us decided on Caramel Coconut which she then hand delivered (along with Kirby) to us on the bus. We could not believe the size of the cones and cups…biggest single scoop we ever saw and only $3.00. Yummy but way too big!
We returned to the port about 9pm where they had a huge marketplace set up so we wouldn’t miss any shopping opportunities. Boarded the ship more than ready for a relaxing day at sea. Enjoyed quiet time, did my journal and played scrabble. We had our second formal night and everyone enjoyed the ship’s lobster. We had one more port to visit so went to bed early to be prepared for our 7:30am start time.
Day 8 was another private accessible tour. This time in Halifax which was another favorite for us. Eleven of us were split up into two accessible mini-buses and we had a great driver/guide team of Kevin and Margaret Ann. Margaret Ann was a retired teacher and really knew her history. We began the day at Fairfield Cemetery where many of the Titanic victims are laid to rest. It is a beautifully maintained cemetery and the stories are fascinating.
From there we drove along St. Margaret’s Bay which is dotted with one fishing village after another and led us to Peggy’s Cove, home of one of the most famous lighthouses in the world. Some of us had our picture taken and made into a postcard. We had a little difficulty with Gift Shop and Bathroom access but, as usual, we made it all work out.
Time to move on from this lovely location and head for the Acadia Maple Products Shop. We love to shop almost as much as we love to eat! They had all kinds of maple products from syrup to wine, blueberry products, cranberries, balsamic vinaigrette and more. Shopped and shipped so still waiting for my purchases to arrive. Now that we shopped it was time to eat again! Margaret Ann thought we deserved a special place for lunch so we stopped at a Bistro in downtown Halifax. Lunch was enjoyed by all. One of our cruisers went to McDonald’s for lunch and had a McLobster Sandwich. He said it was very good and only $7.99. Definitely going to try that next time I’m in town.
We rode our scooters from the Bistro to the Halifax Public Gardens which was established in 1820 and is second in popularity to Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC. Caught a few sprinkles but the sun popped out once again. It wasn’t going to rain on our parade.
We were treated to a beautiful view of the city from atop the Citadel on our way back to the port. Another shopping opportunity awaited us but I think we were all shopped out. We had a very good dinner at Portofino’s that evening. I had been to Chops Grille earlier in the week but think I liked Portofino’s better. Finally got to the Schooner Bar for some fun piano playing and sing along. Hard to believe that the next day was the end of our cruise.
Our last day at sea was spent visiting with one another and taking lots of pictures and, of course, packing all those souvenirs. We all agreed it had been a wonderful voyage filled with friends, food, scenery, great weather and the special magic that happens when you cruise with wonderful people.
To all who were there, thanks for joining me on this travel adventure and making it so special. Till we meet again…..