October 07, 2017

Day 7 – Sydney, Nova Scotia

When I retire for the evening we are cruising at about 12 Knots, and there is a little vibration in the cabin. Not enough to keep me from sleeping, but enough that I realize it is there. 10 minutes later that changes, something is now rattling loudly. Coat hangers? Something in the bathroom? Ice in the bucket? I turn the light on to investigate. It turns out to be the A/C cover which is directly over my bed. A couple of gentle pushes and it stops. Back to bed for a good nights sleep.

We arrive in Sydney a little early and the ship is quickly cleared by local authorities. With no specific plans, I let the passengers that have tours get off while I have eggs and a sausage for breakfast.

Again the weather is picture perfect, a few light clouds, a gentle breeze and temperatures rising above 60. As with every other port, the warm weather has delayed the usual changing of leaves which so far this fall just hasn't happened anywhere I have been.

Sydney is a small port, very friendly for cruise ships. Step off the ship and you are here. There are a number of shops on the pier. Absolutely some of the best quality merchandise I have seen at any port. Most items are locally made, and there is none of the usual junk imported from Asia.

There is a strong Keltic influence here seen in the shops, and heard from bagpipers as one walks along the harbor towards town. There is a giant oversized fiddle on the pier, a favorite picture spot. I can't help notice a sign at the entrance to the shopping pavilion on the pier listing the operating hours during the week, under which it says "and allways when there is a cruise ship in port". Rockland should take notice.

Another sign informs guests that there is a concert on the pier starting an hour and a half before the ship departs, and that it can be enjoyed from the open areas of the ship. Absolutely no question that this town welcomes the visitors that come by cruise ship.

Reboarding the ship is as easy as it could be, just show your sea pass card. It must just be my day, as for the first time on this trip I pass thru the metal detectors without the buzzers going off.

Sometimes the pools are drained for repair or cleaning. Today the main pool on the ship is drained, maybe just because it hasn't been used in a week? I'll see when they refill it.

Probably just to break habit, but I have been going to the dining room each night. I think the menu has changed, but i'm not sure, all I know is there are one or more good choice each evening. The food has been good and the service excellent.

After dinner I go to the Concierge Lounge. The topic of conversation is Royal's new policy of either charging more if you want a refundable ticket, or if you cancel after 30 days losing your deposit regardless of how far prior to the date of sailing. The concensus amongst the frequent cruisers here is that future cruise bookings on board have dropped to the point of almost being non existant.

I am planning on listening to the pianist, Rosemarie Olifindo, tonight. I have been here a week and haven't spent any time in the Schooner Bar. Tonight should be the night. I have no plans for tomorrow, our stop in Corner Brooke, Newfoundland. There are only four tours being offered, so I can only assume it is a very small town. Rosemarie plays mostly classical, there are a few guests, no where near the crowd that Kelly would draw.

Tonight we turn our clocks ahead 30 minutes. Yes 30 minutes, half of a time zone. Newfoundland is North and East of Nova Scotia. We are now 90 minutes later than Florida.

Day 6 – Halifax, Nova Scotia

We arrive in Halifax harbor a little before our scheduled arrival at 10:00 AM. Again it is a gorgeous day, blue skies, no clouds, a light breeze, and temperatures rising to about 70. We could not ask for it to be nicer.

Before arrival we had to complete a declarations form for the Canadian authorities. We just dropped it in a box by the front desk, so I doubt much is done with them. Upon disembarkation there is no check at all, just a government employee counting passengers as we enter the terminal building.

I did not book a tour for today, instead take the Hop-on Hop-off bus that makes a continuous loop around the city lasting about an hour an a half.

I get off at the only stop that interests me, the maritime museum. The museum is appropriately housed in an old warehouse along the water front. There are many artifacts, the more unique being a mold for casting large anchors and a complete rotating lens assembly from a light house. I would estimate the lens to be 6 feet in height, and 4 feet across.

Many ship models are on display, including old "ships in a bottle" dating back several hundred years. There are several old ships in the harbor that are also open for touring.

Halifax is a very modern city, and the guide tells us it is the second fastest growing city in Canada. The current population is about 400,000. We are told A 600 sq ft apartment rents $1000 to $1500 a month plus utilities and an additional $150 for a parking spot.

I return to the ship too late for lunch, which is probably just as well as I have been going to the dining room each evening. Tonight is the first show with the singers and dancers, the same tribute to Broadway they have been performing on the Vision of the Seas for years. The cast is new, having joined the ship in Bayonne

There are actually several people in the Solarium pool, the first I have seen the pool used at all.

I don't know if this is just this ship, or just my room steward, but so far there have been no towel creatures on my bed in the evening. Is this another cost cutting measure​?

I think I mentioned yesterday that the theater entertainment was a movie last night. Surprisingly they had the entire 9 piece orchestra in the Centrum playing music for those that wished to dance. There were a few couples, but not many, actually I only saw two.

The food and service has been good in the dining room with the exception of the first night when the galley couldn't keep pace. The Canadian Government did an exhaustive health inspection that took all day while we were here in Halifax. The captain and the dining room staff both reported that the grade was 100%. The crew and staff were very happy, and I doubt any passengers were disappointed with the inspection report.

I should have internet for the next several days, and will be posting the blog on a more regular schedule.

After dinner I head to the theater to catch the production show. As I had been warned earlier, the theater was nearly full 35 minutes before show time when I arrived.

Tomorrow we are in Sydney, no not Australia but Nova Scotia.