October 10, 2017

Day 10 Arrival in Quebec City

The captain is keeping his reputation for early arrivals. Despite being diverted far off his intended course, and holding steady in the water for an hour for a medical transfer, we arrive in Quebec City an hour early.

We are docked behind a very large grain elevator. The ship is quickly cleared for passengers to enjoy tours or just wander the city on their own. It is pretty foggy, the temperatures are rather cool, but the forecast for rain is less than 20%. Checking the weather forecast, temperatures are expected to rise to the upper 50's at best. A quick walk outside confirms that warm clothing is definitely in order.

Leaving the ship is painless, no security checks, no customs, just have your sea pass card scanned as I leave the ship. There is a large tent which serves as a waiting area for embarking passengers, tomorrow it will be busy. There are a number of stools and oak barrels for tables that serve as work space for those that want to avail themselves of the free Wi Fi, a service enjoyed the most by crew members. A little kiosk serves as an information booth where maps, only in French, are available. It is the street names that are important and the "X" the gal writes on the map to indicate where to catch the returning shuttle bus. A few steps away is the waiting line for the free shuttle.

The shuttles depart as fast as each bus can load, and takes passengers from the ship into the center of town. It will be running until 10 PM tonight. After arrival in town I decide that a hop on hop off bus tour is my best bet. It is a couple of blocks walk to the tourist information center where I begin my wait in line for tickets. There are at least a half dozen tours and combinations of tours. Most of the passengers don't speak or read French and have a hard time deciding which tour they want. There are English descriptions, but they are rather abbreviated compared to the longer French descriptions. The line moves very slowly.

Once I have my ticket there is another long line across the street waiting for the "red bus", the one I have been instructed to board. A bus is trying to arrive, but traffic is very congested. Some passengers try to get on the bus before it even gets to its designated stop. The bus driver refuses to board them, and directs them to the back of the queue. There is an applause from the dozens of tourists that have been patiently waiting for over half an hour.

The bus driver blames all the traffic on people going to the two ships in port, ours and Holland America's Zuiderdam, I don't buy that as there is no traffic in the port, just on many of the city streets. Many times people walking on the sidewalk are making better progress than we are. It doesn't matter we are on vacation.

Quebec city is a combination of old and new. When I say old, it is by North American standards not European standards.

I take the bus around its entire loop without getting off. We progress slowly, at one point the driver suggesting that it would be faster if we got off the bus and waited for the next bus. I don't understand the logic and I think no one else does either. Maybe something was lost in his English explanation. Everyone remains seated. The normal hour and a half trip takes over 3 hours. Occasionally the sun pops out to warm us. By the end of the tour, it has become quite cloudy and looks like it is going to rain.

I find a local place to eat a very late lunch. A simple expensive burger and a delicious dark chocolate milk shake. In the area around where the shuttle drops us off there are hundreds of boutique shops selling everything from original art to Christmas decorations. I stick my head in a few shops, but you should know by now that I am not a shopper. I wander back to the pick up point for the shuttle bus, also a stop for many bus tours from both cruise ships.

The wait for the shuttle bus is no more than two minutes, a short ride back to the port, and just as I walk up the gangway it begins a light rain.

I can only assume the water level has changed significantly since this morning as we disembarked from deck 2, and returned to deck 4. It will be interesting how many passengers stay in the city for dinner tonight, I imagine quite a few, as the free shuttle runs until 10pm, and the ship is open all night for boarding.

Passengers are also allowed to disembark the ship whenever they want, any time today, or at the prescribed time tomorrow morning. If they disembark early, they just have to take all their luggage with them, similar to self assist disembarkation except the the passemgers can leave anytime.

Several passengers were talking about Uber. A few cars were available to pick up passengers at the ship today, but the local government is stopping all Uber operations effective October 15th. Just too much competition for the well connected taxi companies, just like in many other cities.

With such a late lunch, it will serve as my dinner tonight, especially since I will augment it with a few appetizers from the Diamond lounge.

I head to the theater early to catch the final farewell show. There is only one at 7:15. Our CD, Chris Hopkins, is leaving the ship to return to England. At the moment he has no offer from Royal to return. The comedian, Don Gavin will be on the ship for a few more days. The singers and dancers will be here for a long time as they just started their contracts when we left Bayonne 10 days ago. The other headliners and entertainers I don't know about yet.

As the tide goes in and out, the gangway is moved between deck 2 and deck 4. No motion of the ship tonight, we are tied to the dock in Quebec City.

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