Monday July 16th
We awoke to a very foggy outlook from the patio doors of our verandah although it was still quite warm outside, and this was the first time that I had heard the ship`s fog horn so often, as it was sounded every five minutes or so. Definitely a Titanic moment, especially in view of where we were heading towards!
Fancying a lazy beakfast, my DW and I opted for Lumiere`s where I enjoyed my usual fry up with waiter service.
At 11.00 am we , together with our friends, attended a Gold & Platinum Castaway Club get together in Studio Sea where we were offered champagne [or soft drinks] and some really tasty canapés by some of the servers.
Tim was in action on the stage, this time playing a range of Disney tunes on a small electric piano instead of his normal grand piano in Sessions, and after giving us a wave at one stage sneaked in a tune from Phantom of the Opera just for my benefit!
Normally the ship`s captain attends these events to say a few words but in view of the foggy conditions, maritime law required him to be on duty in the bridge. Instead it was down to the Cruise Director [Peter] to do the honours and he told us among other things that Disney aims to have a total of 8 ships within the fleet within only a few years time.
He also was proud of the fact that DCL has yet again been voted among the best cruise line companies in the World based on customer feedback.
Outside we bumped into Tim who introduced us to the Assistant Cruise Director [Darren] who hails from Chorley, not too far from where I live in the UK, and we enjoyed a fair bit of small talk for several minutes.
The rest of the day was spent just lazing around the pool, reading a book and taking the occasional coffee [or something stronger ], interspersed with lunch and snacks from the various outlets.
The regular sounding of the fog horn was not conducive to having a nap unless you retired to the quiet of the stateroom, but it was nice to just chill out and relax after the hectic days we had just experienced in New York.
Sometime during the day we met a crew member named Pio [from India] in a white officer’s uniform who we knew quite well from our previous cruises. He had recently been promoted to the role of Bar Manager taking care of all of the on board bars.
After congratulating him on his promotion, it was good to know that he remembered us also as he then asked my DW about how her Mum was coping since the loss of my DW`s Dad [a tragic event that occurred in the last night of a previous cruise] and her part time [unpaid] job at a school that we had spoken about the last time we met. It goes to show what a genuine guy he is and I sincerely hope that he continues to climb the ladder within DCL.
Tonight was the Formal Evening, and dinner for us was at Animator`s Palate where it was the “show” night when the restaurant slowly changes from a black and white theme to a blaze of colour as Sorcerer Mickey makes an appearance to parade around the venue along with all the servers who had changed into very colourful attire.
Approaching the restaurant, we met Pierre who is the ship`s catering manager who we again knew from our earlier cruises and we spoke to him at length and got him to pose for a photo with us.
Bumping into familiar faces such as Tim, Pio and Pierre among many others makes you realise how welcoming the DCL crew members are, and it really is like being reunited with some long lost friends.
Pio called into Sessions for a brief chat after dinner as he knew that the odds of us being there were quite high , and again we were well entertained by Tim, tonight being his “Tribute to Nat King Cole” evening….although he also played music of many other genres from Lloyd Webber to Little Richard, not to mention “Wonderful Tonight” just for me!
We arrived back at our stateroom [again welcomed by another towel animal and chocolates etc.] around midnight, although it was actually closer to 1.00 am as our clocks had to go forward one hour tonight.
Tomorrow we would be in Halifax, Nova Scotia….unless the captain gets us lost in the fog! :eye:
Tuesday July 17th
Halifax is the capital of Nova Scotia and is where 2,500 settlers created Canada`s first British town in 1749, on the shores of the Worlds 2nd largest harbour.
It was once titled the “Gateway to Canada” as well over a million immigrants have arrived through the port of Halifax at Pier 21 singe the age of steam.
It was here that many of the bodies of those who lost their lives on the Titanic are laid to rest.
My usual knack of waking up just as the ship is entering the port kicked in so I went up to deck 10 to get my first glimpse of Halifax, leaving my DW in bed for a few extra zzz`s.
It was a misty morning, but gladly nowhere near as foggy as yesterday, and we were welcomed to the quayside by a guy in Scottish attire, wearing a kilt and beating a rhythmic air on his side drum.
All of us had booked to go on the “Highlights and City Tour” shore excursion that was not due to leave until 1.00 pm and so after breakfast [a buffet meal at Topsiders], my DW and I decided to venture ashore to get a feel for the place.
After passing through a very laid back Immigration process, you exit the terminal via an indoor market where the stallholders were offering a wide range of goods, although naturally many of them were aimed at the tourists who had to pass by their outlets.
After a bit of browsing, we turned to the right for a stroll along the very pleasant boardwalk a short distance from where we had docked.
This was quite a contrast compared to the industrialised view to the left of where the ship was moored where vast grain silos and conveyors are situated to load onto rail trucks, together with a container depot for sea going freight.
Here we saw several ocean front restaurants, a small glass blowing factory,
an even smaller boat building facility,
together with well laid out play areas for children
and several rickshaws to ferry those who preferred not to walk.
We made our way back to the ship to meet up with our friends at Rockin Bar D [via a “pit stop” on deck 9 for a quick snack and drink] to begin our shore excursion.
After being escorted off the ship by a crew member, we boarded a coach that was parked alongside the quay to begin our guided journey.
After our kilted tour guide gave us a brief history of Halifax, was passed along it`s “posh” area where each of the houses cost in excess of $1M to purchase.
From here we went a short distance to the Public Gardens which were opened in 1875 and which have been really well cared for up to today.
We disembarked from the coach and walked through the various flora and fauna with our well informed guide pointing out several good viewing spots and features of interest along the way.
Back on the coach, we drove to the Citadel which is a large fortification set on a hill and built by the British in 1750 and which has been added to and strengthened up to 1856 in defence of the city.
Nowadays it is only a tourist attraction and the “military” personnel are students dressed in suitable attire for the period.
Some of the internal rooms give you a good impression of army life at the time
and a small museum provided all of the historical facts of the site.
You can walk all around the ramparts, dotted with numerous gun emplacements and get a good view of the city and harbour below.
On the return journey to the ship, our guide told us of the fateful night of December 6th 1917 when a ship laden with explosives collided with another vessel in the harbour, resulting in the most violent man made explosion before the atomic age, killing thousands of people and destroying a huge area of the city.
In all, in view of it only being a two hour excursion it was nevertheless enjoyable and gave us a feel for what Halifax has to offer.
On the other hand, I think that too much time was spent at the citadel and I would have liked to have seen some of the “Titanic” connection with the city but time did not allow.
The “Magic” departed at around 5.00pm and it was still a bit foggy and a tad cold on the outside deck areas, so the crew members were kept busy handing out blankets to those around the Quiet Cove pool area.
I then heard a lot of commotion taking place on the starboard side of the ship and several folk were looking out of the curved glass panels out to sea.
Wandering over to see what was going on, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that a large whale was swimming parallel to the ship, emitting large plumes of spray whenever it surfaced!!!
I tried to capture this event in a photo but sadly the whale was not very obliging, and kept on diving whenever I managed to focus on where I thought he/she would surface!
All too soon he/she was gone for good, but it was definitely a “first” for me, seeing one of these magnificent creatures in the open sea.
[We found out later that some passengers had been on a whale watching excursion in Halifax, and they never saw a single whale at all!!!]
The rest of the day and evening followed the regular pattern…..pre dinner tipple at Sessions, dinner [tonight at Parrot Cay], Sessions after dinner [inviting Tim to join us on deck 9 tomorrow evening for the “Pirates IN the Caribbean Deck Party”, and being greeted by another towel animal in our stateroom.
Tomorrow morning we would be in Saint John.