Published: June 15th 2012June 14th 2012
With our latest onshore start-time for the week, we thought that we’d try to get breakfast in the Rotterdam Dining Room. There was some problem with the grill for Sharon’s French Toast, and even though we were first to be seated and order our breakfast, ours was delayed by quite a bit, almost to the point we were concerned that we might need to grab something quick in the Lido if we were to eat and go on our tour; but, our breakfasts did eventually come and we had time to enjoy them.
We had signed up for the Tall Ship Sailing in Halifax Harbor. Arriving in Halifax, all that we could see from our Lanai Cabin was fog… lots of fog. Then we saw a clearing in the fog and could see the shore, but that was soon replaced by more fog. As time passed, the fog did seem to be burning off, and as we stepped onto the gangway off Deck 5 we knew that it would be a nice day for sailing.
There were 13 of us signed up for the Tall Ship Tour, but only 12 showed up, and so we waited, and waited, and eventually, we started the ten minute walk to the Tall Ship we would be sailing, the schooner “Silva”. As we boarded, we were greeted with our choice of mimosas or a Caesar, the Halifax answer to the Bloody Mary made with clam-ato juice. I wasn’t thrilled with either choice, or Sharon even less so, but I did try their mimosa, and it was not as bad as the last one that I’d tried. As our schooner motored from its berth, two deck hands began to hoist the sails, holding the rope while jumping high, even appearing to walk up the mast holding the rope before allowing their weight to pull the sail higher. Some of the men also helped them pull the ropes; but, they were far less effective. All of the sails were eventually secure, with the captain hoisting the final most forward foresail (the easy one). In all, three large sails were raised, and two small foresails. The schooner now made its way towards the Old Bridge, with the New Bridge visible in the far distance. We sailed through the narrows by the New Bridge where the deadly Halifax Explosion had occurred almost a century ago. The hostess kept coming by with goodies to eat, including a yummy little crab cake, a small personal quiche, a broche with cream cheese, smoked salmon and capers, concluding with a blueberry tart near the end of the tour. Sharon skipped all of the earlier offerings, but boy did she make up for it when the tarts came out. She even made me go back and get her another one after she had already gotten seconds! She said they were very good. More were available if you wanted seconds, probably due to the small size of the passengers; in fact, Sharon felt there was more crew on board than passengers. There was the captain, his first mate, the engineer, two deck hands, the hostess, a Celtic fiddler, the cashier and the escort, so I’m not quite sure that we were outnumbered. This tour was a nice leisurely tour sailing on the water, and I use the term sailing loosely. While we were certainly under sail after departing, by the time we sailed under the second bridge (the new bridge) we resumed power propulsion as we made our turn, using power all the way back around St. George’s Island and back to the pier. There was not much wind as we took this tour, and that may be why I wasn’t that impressed by the sailing part, but it was definitely a nice and much needed relaxing tour with a two hour excursion that got us back before noon.
We continued on along the boardwalk from where we disembarked towards the Halifax Maritime Museum. I had also asked to Tall Ship guide for recommendations for getting a Lobster Roll for lunch. We had spotted a place just off the pier on our route that morning during our stroll to our harbor excursion; however, we couldn’t view the menu and they weren’t open yet, and we were worried its location might make it a bit too touristy. We did get a recommendation of a place in “The Warehouse”, and he had pointed out the building from the “Silva”. It was on our way to the museum so I went to check out the menu while Sharon went to sit and look at the ocean. As she was taking a seat she noticed that TomC was seated nearby so they had a short chat till I came back with my thumbs up (indicating they did have Lobster Rolls and Fried Clams).
Our Tall Ship guide had pointed the museum out from sea as the building ringed in paint beneath the roof perimeter in flags. The museum cost C$8.50 for adults and you get a C$1.00 discount if you show your AAA card, which we couldn’t because Sharon left it back in the safe with her wallet… oh well. The museum had an informative presentation on the Halifax disaster during WWI in which two ships collided resulting in a massive explosion that wiped out a good portion of the town that was only limited by the Citadel atop the hill. Four times more people died in this explosion than died in the earthquake and fire of San Francisco, and eight times more than died in the Chicago fire started by Mrs. O’Leary’s cow. Many may not have heard about this disaster, unless you’re an avid viewer of the History Channel. The museum also has a 20-minute 3-D Titanic presentation, but there is a modest additional charge for that, which we didn’t discover until we’d walked upstairs to the Titanic part of the museum (you had to pay downstairs).
So we then headed back to the Restaurant for lunch. I had a 20 ounce glass of Garrison’s Irish Red Ale with my lobster roll. This sandwich came on a freshly made roll filled with a lobster filling including mayonnaise, celery and most importantly lobster. You can see the lobster, and you can smell the lobster and most importantly you can taste the lobster, and it was a pretty decent sandwich. The size might have been a tad smaller than I thought it should be, but the price of C$16 was what I expected. My lunch was great, and Sharon enjoyed her fried clams and French Fries. My sandwich came with homemade potato chips that were also pretty darn good.
We got back and went up to the Team Trivia challenge in the Crow’s Nest. We met up with our earlier teammates on two previous occasions, and acquired one more to round out our team of five. Sharon and I should have known what structure was erected overnight in 1961 (we’re sure we heard that one before on a cruise). One popular but wrong answer was the Seattle Space Needle. I got the bonus question of how many official languages are there in Switzerland only because I lived there when I was a kid (there are four: German, French, Italian and Romansch (sp?)). Four was the answer to another question as well: How many U.S. Presidents have been assassinated… but can you name them? Our new team member got the 1952 Summer Games sight as Helsinki, Finland. Sharon got the name of the group that sang with Sam the Sham and our other teammates got the question on a battery part. So we all did our part and we came close with 11 points, the winners had 12 points and won the prize HAL mugs. In case your stumped, it was the Berlin Wall. As for the presidents: Lincoln, Kennedy, McKinley and Garfield (not necessarily in that order).
We had a bit of relaxation time back in the cabin before we went to play in the $100,000 Jackpot Bingo. Sharon had a difficult choice to make: whether to attend $100,000 Jackpot Bingo with her hubby, or go to mass, hmmm... Bingo, Mass. In the end I guess she figured bingo was Catholic enough for her! Sharon and I both got to stand, but unfortunately luck didn’t shine on us. We tried to meet the Luck Gods halfway by playing the 6-Game packs for $35 (versus $25 for 3-Game packs). But bingo started late and the cruise director was calling the numbers pretty rapidly and it was difficult to keep up. The winner of the first game, normal straight bingo almost didn’t get “Bingo” before the next number was called. And the bingos were more complex than the ones earlier in the week, including a double-straight bingo and a postage stamp with no Free Space. I think he was trying to make up the time because it was formal night and people needed to get to dinner.
It was formal dinner night and they offered Turf and Surf. Sharon and I were later than usual for our open seating, and got a sub-premium awkward table for two off the end of the serving station in the center dinning section. Sharon ordered the almond infused shrimp appetizer for me, while I ordered the escargot (not in shell) and also for me. The snails were great, buttery and garlicky the way they should be. I don’t know that I would get the poached shrimp again. Sharon had the cold sour cherry soup with kreme fraische, and I had the garlic, corn and crab chowder which was great. Sharon doesn’t particularly care for sour cherries and her comment was that it reminded her of children’s cough syrup. I tasted a small spoonful and I had the same thought. Needless to say, she didn’t finish her soup. Sharon ordered the Filet Mignon and Lobster (the “surf” of course was for me). So I ordered the Crusted Cod with Prosciutto and mashed potatoes with asparagus. The fish was outstanding, and even better with the lobster on the side. We had a chocolate cake dessert with white chocolate coating and berries, and I needed to get one of the complimentary HAL shot-glasses with a green bottom, so I ordered the cordial (Southern Comfort and Peach Liquor). Sharon wanted me to mention that a couple of days ago we finally did find out what happened to the Yum-Yum man for open seating. While he is no longer serving on Deck 7, a self-serve cart is available on the side, including the butter mints that Sharon likes.
We went to the Casino and Sharon allotted herself $30 today. There were just two others sitting at the Blackjack table so I sat down, and things started well. The table began to fill up and I did very well never losing more than a few hands in a row, and winning more than my share, getting more than my share of blackjacks, and winning all of my double down and split bets… And the dealer was busting more than her share which is always a blessing. I won over $150 and was able to find Sharon at the show at 8:00. I don’t think she was expecting me because she didn’t save me a seat, but I made do as she was sitting on the end in the upper tier.
The show was called Encore, and the music was very entertaining, mostly Opera and Broadway songs by two of the singers that have been on the ship. Tomorrow is our final full day on board.