New York to Halifax Cruise

New York to Halifax Cruise

This year Dora and I did a little something different for our 2011 October cruise. We sailed out of New York on the MSC Poesia. My brother Don and his wife Beth arranged the cruise. In addition to Don and Beth our group consisted of Gary and Susan Moll. We had sailed with Gary and Susan along the west coast of Mexico a few years ago. Also cruising with us this time were Gary's two brothers Frank and his wife Diana, John and his wife Kathy and Gary's sister Christa and her husband Jim. They were all awesome and it was great fun to sail with them.

Our trip started on Friday October 21, with a ride on Amtrack from Gainseville, GA to New York's Penn Station. We arrived at Penn Station around 2:00 PM Saturday followed by a short taxi ride which delivered us to the MSC Poesia. Our ship set sail about 8:00 PM Saturday night. It was a cool night, but the sail out of New York Harbor was beautiful and most everyone was out on deck enjoying the night view of the New York skyline.

Our first stop was Halifax in Nova Scotia, Canada. The distance between New York and Halifx is approximately 580 nautical miles. We spent Saturday night and all day Sunday at sea, arriving in Halifax at 9:00 AM Monday October 24.

October is late in the season and we weren't sure what to expect for weather. Halifax turned out to be gorgeous with sunny skies and temperatures around 60 degrees F.

Halifax is home to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. This is an excellent resource to learn about Nova Scotia's maritime history. Exhibits include shipwreck treasures along with historical records and artifiacts from two significant events in history.

The first bit of history involves the Titanic. In 1912 survivors and casualties of the Titanic were brought to Halifax. It was the closest port to the location of the sinking of the Titanic. The Maritime Museum houses information and artifacts from the Titanic. Many of the victims were buried in Halifax.

 The second bit of history occured In 1917. At that time Halifax was the main base of the Canadian Navy and a major hub of wartime activity.  On December 6, 1971, a Belgin relief vessel collided with a French munitions vessel, the Mont Blanc. The Mont Blanc, on fire and disabled, drifted into a pier. The Mont Blanc exploded and flattened everything within 2600 feet. A resultant tidal wave within the harbor and fires that spread through Halifx killed more than 1900 people and destroyed over 1600 buildings.

We would have liked to stay in Halifax longer but our ship had a schedule to keep. We departed Halifax at 5:00 PM. Our next stop would be Saint. John, New Brunswick, approximately 280 nautical miles from Halifax. We arrived in Saint John at 11:00 AM Tuesday, October 25. Saint John was as enjoyable as Halifax. Dora and I spent the day walking around the city.

We strolled through several parks and visited several historic churches. Even though it was overcast most of the day with light rain from time-to-time, it was a pleasant day for exploring the city.

We departed Saint John around 7:00 PM. Our next stop would be Bar Harbor. Maine, 120 nautical miles away.

We arrived in Bar Harbor around 7:00 AM. Dora took this photo from our balcony just before the sun showed itself on the horizon.

The ship was anchored and we had to take a tender ashore. Dora and I caught an early tender, along with Don and Beth and the Moll family. We spent the morning exploring the shops and local sights. The Poesia was the last cruise ship for the season and shops were literally closing up and boarding windows for the winter as we left.

We enjoyed a lobster lunch in a local restaurant followed by a tour through the Acadia National Park. Acadia National Park has spectacular views and plenty of wildlife. We visited the area of known as Cadillac Mountain, named after a French Explorer of the same name. Cadillac Mountain is one of the first places in the United States to see the sunrise. One thing we learned was a day was not nearly long enough to appreciate Acadia. We will have to make a return trip when we can spend more time exploring the area. Time to leave came all too soon. We had two more stops before returning to New York.

Our next stop was Boston, which is about 183 nautical miles from Bar Harbor. We arrived in Boston about 7:00 AM on Thursday October 27. Boston was the only stop we encountered bad weather. It was cold, windy, and rainy the day we arrived so opted to stay on the ship and relax. Dora and I have both been to Boston before and so we enjoyed a relaxing day on board.

 The Moll family went to town and visited the Bull and Finch Pub. This is the location where the exterior shots for the TV show Cheers were made. Upstairs is the set used for the bar scenes.

About 228 nautical miles south of Boston is Newport, RI, our last stop before returning to New York. Newport is a summer home to some of the wealthiest families in the United States. Their "summer cottages"  was home to the Astors, Vanderbuilts, and Belmonts who made fortunes in railroads, coal, oil, and steel. Newport is more than a show of wealth. Newport has a remarkable history, much of which is still visible. Newport has strong historical ties to the America's Cup. In 1929 the J-Class boats were chosen for America's Cup and the venue was moved to Newport. The first races held in Newport were in 1930. Newport remained the venue for America's Cup for over 50 years, until 1983 when Australia won the cup for the first time.

One of the attractions we were able to visit was the Rose Island lighthouse. At one time Rose Island was a fort. The fort soon became outdated and in 1870 the lighthouse. The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1971 after completion of the Newport Bridge. We were only on the island about an hour or so and it just wasn't enough time to fully appreciate the history and features of the lighthouse and surrounding property.

We departed Newport Friday evening around 6:00 PM for our return leg to New York, about 134 nautical miles away. After dinner and a show we went back to our cabin to pack and get ready to leave the ship Saturday morning. I woke up about 5:30 Saturday morning, just in time to see the Statue of Liberty in our balcony window. I only had time for a quick photo. We were docked and off the ship by 7:00 AM.

With the exception of the one day in Boston, the weather held for the enitre trip. When we got in the taxi to go to Penn Station to catch our train there was a light rain. We left Penn Station at 2:00 PM for our return trip to Atlanta. By the time our train pulled out of the station the rain had turned to snow. We were treated to snowfall all the way to Washington DC. The train trip home was without incident and we arrived safely Sunday morning, exactly at 7:00 AM. Our friend, Dennis Slaton, was on hand to pick us up.