Thursday, October 8, 2009

Halifax! Sept. 21

Halifax?? Nope, this wasn’t planned. I was getting a manicure and telling the girl how we had missed St. John’s on our last cruise. The words were no sooner out of my mouth, when the things started sliding around on her desk. The shutter doors were sliding and stuff fell off the window sill. She said “Hmmm…we’re turning.” Then we heard the “bing bong” signalling that the captain was about to make an announcement. I started laughing because I knew what was coming. Yup! Another storm…not going to make it to St. John’s. Instead…we are heading for Halifax.

I think the captain didn’t dare miss another port. There had been a lot of complainers and back seat drivers saying we had missed ports for no reason. He wasn’t taking any chances! So Halifax it is!

We woke up to see this schooner sailing by the ship with a load of tourists on board. We gawked at them, and they gawked at us!

We got off the ship and headed into the terminal facility. It was sort of strange to be tourists in a city so close to home.

They built this beautiful facility a few years ago to take advantage of the huge revenue generated by cruise ships coming into the port. You can see the top of our ship, Crown Princess, over the building.

The facility is only open on days when cruise ships are in port. It opens an hour before the ship arrives and closes when it leaves. It is the nicest facility we have seen for cruise ships in any port we have been in. Lots of shopping and it was busy.

As we headed out for a walk along the boardwalk, we stopped to read about Pier 21. It opened in 1928 and processed over one million immigrants changing the cultural make-up of Canada. It closed in 1971.

I quickly got into tourist mode and starting snapping pictures of anything as I would in a new port. The Harbour Hopper actually goes into the water. That would be kind of fun!

This is a statue of Samuel Cunard who was born in Halifax in 1787. He was the pioneer of ocean ship navigation which forever altered commerce and communication between the Old and New Worlds. His name is carried on today in the famous Cunard Line of shipping and cruising.

The boardwalk where they hold a buskers festival each year. You can see one of the crew members in the striped shirt playing tourist. Everyone was so glad to get off the ship after so many sea days. It was a gorgeous sunny day and everyone was in a great mood!

Halifax has been a significant port since it was founded in 1749. Dartmouth, directly across from it, was founded in 1750 and is closely connected to Halifax by car, boat and ferry.

The schooner we saw sailing by the ship in the morning waiting for more tourists.

When in Rome…there were several of these dolphins along the boardwalk. I think each has been sponsored by a company or group.

A monument which has been set up to remember the deportation of the Acadians. L’Acadie had been established by France in 1604. In 1713 it was handed over to England and became Nova Scotia. The remaining Acadians were viewed as a threat and in 1755, over 10,000 men, women and children were deported to France and England. Over half of these people died at sea or through disease. Others escaped deportation, but by 1765 only 1600 survivors remained in Nova Scotia and most of their land was occupied by other settlers. Many Acadians never set eyes on Acadie again. They moved to Quebec and Louisiana bringing with them their roots and customs.

Beautiful part of the marina…look at that sky!

Yikes!! Are those leaves changing colours? It doesn’t seem possible!

So nice to see the Canadian flag!

In memory of merchant seamen…I always think of Dad when I see one of these monuments and can never pass up a photo opportunity.

Here we are at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. I have always wanted to visit the Titanic exhibition here, so this was a perfect chance.

Remembering Hurricane Juan which roared through Halifax in September 2003. The city’s cherished Public Gardens, which were officially opened in 1867, were heavily damaged and many centuries-old trees were uprooted. The Gardens were closed for several months for clean up.

A sign showing all the tropical storms that have occurred in the past few months…I think we hit most of them on the ship!

From 1906 until 1967, this lens was used in the Sambro Island lighthouse. Built in 1758, it is the oldest lighthouse in Canada and the oldest surviving lighthouse in both North and South America.

Sure…say hello to Merlin and be ignored!

Merlin is pretty, but Merlin ain’t talking!

Crikey…the day we see waves like this washing over the deck, I might rethink the whole cruising idea!

Remembering Canada at war…

I had forgotten about the Halifax Explosion in my excitement about seeing the Titanic exhibition.

On December 6, 1917, a Norwegian ship, the Imo, was heading out of the Halifax harbour when it struck the Mont Blanc, a French munitions ship. The resulting explosion was heard over 200 miles away and 2000 people were killed in Halifax. All buildings covering two square kilometres were completely obliterated. As if this wasn’t enough, it triggered a tidal wave and was followed the next day by a blizzard which dropped 40 cm of snow.

A clock which stopped at the time of the explosion 9:06 a.m.

The wreckage…those who survived thought it was the end of the world.

On to the Titanic exhibition…

An exact scale replica which took 6 months to build. I can’t believe it only took that long!

Some artifacts of the White Star Line…

A replica of a deck chair from the Titanic. People often tipped extra to get one in a prime location.

First class information…a family ticket was $1197 with a single ticket costing $138.

Second class…family ticket $190 with a single ticket costing $63.

Third class…family ticket at $104 and a single ticket at $36.

The grand staircase…

An artist’s concept of what it would have looked like in the sinking.

After this exhibition, we were on disaster overload, so we headed out. We passed this old scuba suit on the way. Can you image how much all this weighed? The boots and helmet were enormous!

We wandered up Prince Street to an Irish pub. Might as well keep up the tradition! I have taken quite a liking to cider!

Hey! A Nunavut license plate. I have never seen one before.

St. Paul’s Church which would have been nice to explore if we had more time. Built in 1759, it is the oldest Protestant place of worship in Canada.

Here is a Holland America ship leaving the port. They were kind enough to give up their larger berth to us arriving unexpectedly.

It was the last formal night on the ship and we were celebrating our 18th anniversary. We went for dinner at Sabatini’s, the Italian specialty restaurant.

While we were there they called a Code Alpha which is a medical alert. It was serious for them to broadcast it over the ship. Next thing this helicopter did a fly by. Not sure if it was related but it came by twice.

There is always something going on. The day before they called for a blood donor as a lady was in critical condition and needed a transfusion. That was sort of sad because if we had made it to St. John’s, she would have been in a hospital rather than on the ship.

Our anniversary treat…

A picture with Cintia, our favourite crew member. We met her on the first day of the cruise in the International Café where she works most mornings. She is from Brazil and the warmest, friendliest person ever. We got to know her as the cruise went on and we chatted most days. She works at Sabatini’s in the evenings. We traded email addresses. Maybe someday we’ll get to Brazil!

So our surprise visit to Halifax was a treat and a wonderful day! One more sea day and we are in New York. It has been the most wonderful cruise…

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