Welcome!       Bienvenue!

Our latest adventure is a 14-nt Fall Foliage Cruise, r/t from Cape Liberty, NJ.
Following a 1-nt stay in New York City, we are boarding our ship for visits to:
Boston, Portland, Bar Harbor, Quebec City 🇨🇦,
Charlottetown 🇨🇦, Sydney 🇨🇦  & Halifax 🇨🇦

aboard
Celebrity Cruise Lines
M/S Celebrity Summit

For Holly & I, this is our 28th cruise together, and the 7th with Celebrity Cruises.


“And then when we get to the ocean, gonna take a boat to the end of the world”
~Dave Matthews Band, ‘You and Me’, Oct 2009


San Diego   (Day 1)
Friday October 5, 2018

We arrived at the airport about 18.00 (all times local), well ahead of our scheduled 22.00 flight.  After check-in, we settled in to chill, play, and chat at the Delta Sky Club.

We will be here for a few hours before heading to our gate, and nonstop flight to New York-Kennedy (JFK).

We are scheduled to arrive about 6.00, and after refreshing at our hotel, will be off to explore Manhattan a bit before meeting our most excellent friends Jim & Kathleen for a carriage ride in Central Park.

This latest adventure is a record, if you will, of reunion cruisers.  While we have made great friendships cruising, and have met various times to cruise again, that number has never been greater than 6; this time, there are 14 of us, all of whom met on Celebrity Silhouette, August 2016 while cruising the British Isles.

Our redeye should be comfortable enough to get a little shuteye before a full day in the Big Apple.

Tomorrow, we are in New York City, NY.

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New York City, NY  (Day 2)
Saturday October 6, 2018

We arrived at JFK about 5.50, and made our way to our hotel, Marriott Marquis in Times Square.  Our welcome to NY was a 45-min taxi ride – a bit of a surprise that there was stop-and-go traffic on a Saturday morning.  Yikes-  would not want to live here.

After refreshing in our hotel, we set out to explore.  Having just one day here, and this being Holly’s first time to NYC, we had a full day on the go, and while we did see very familiar landmarks, we ensured that we engaged in discovery of the local culture, such as a chat with our Carriage Driver.

After a stop at Rockefeller Center, we went on a horse-drawn 45-min ride through Central Park.  Our driver was Clemente, a proud Italian with a story to tell about Italy, the traffic problems in Palermo, and something closer to home- trying to keep after his 8-year old daughter who wanted his help with her homework, but only if he spoke Italian; Clemente should be so lucky-  when, in another 6 years when she’s a teenager.

Our group leader, as it were, was Sparky, who dutifully pulled us through Central Park with a professionalism even though he has probably pulled tourists along the same route a few hundred times, it was neat to hang out with him, too.  We knew that after one or two more turns around the park with other passengers, it would be the end of his shift, and he would be headed home to his barn for the night with Clemente there to drive.

We next went to Junior’s, a restaurant in Times Square right across from our hotel, where we had a reunion with Milos.  Milos, whom Holly had not seen in 7.5 years (I did 3.5 years earlier whilst in NYC), was our Mixologist on Celebrity Eclipse, May 2011 in Scandinavia.  He’s been living and working in NYC for about 6 years now, and is doing very well, co-managing two restaurants.

After returning to our hotel for a bit, we took a subway from Grand Central Station to Lower Manhattan for dinner.

Tomorrow, we board our ship for our awesome 14-nt cruise.

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All Aboard  (Day 3)
Sunday October 7, 2018

It took all of 17 minutes to get from our hotel to the cruise terminal at Cape Liberty, NJ.  It was a pleasant surprise, and gave me time to smoothly enter into Bob Zen mode; a preferred thing for me is to hurry up and wait at a cruise terminal – to avoid most if not all traffic – car and arriving passengers.  People watching and being in the cruise environment early is always a good thing.  Unlike other pier set ups, this one did not afford a good view of the ship from inside the terminal, but, I’ll get over it – plenty of time to film Celebrity Summit over the next 14 nights.

After boarding at about 11.10, we had lunch out adjacent to the Sunset Bar -we were in no hurry to leave.

The cabins opened a bit later than usual – 13.15, and we settled in to start putting things away, and get our game plan ready for tonight.  After a brief stay with our Roll Call group right at the start of the Sail Away, a few us headed quickly down to the bow to watch the Sail Away from the helicopter pad, with a stunning view of New York Harbor.

We love traveling in Aqua Class on Celebrity.  For those who aren’t familiar with it, Aqua Class cabins are essentially the same size cabin as a standard verandah, with upgraded benefits, such as a private dining room (Blu), that serves most of the same food as the main dining room (though there are a few  differences), but with a few lighter sauces, and in a much more intimate, calmer setting.  Aqua Class cabins also have Persian Garden (a Spa) access included, and I use it almost daily (Depending on the ship Class, there are included heated stone chairs or benches…. lay down here after a workout, and its game over :))

Dinner was good (lamb & gnocci).  No dinner food pictures tonight, but we will throughout the cruise.

Much more detail on the ship, including her crew and pictures, in the coming days.

Tomorrow, we are at sea.

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At Sea (Day 4)
Monday October 8, 2018

After a workout in the gym at 6.00, I was ready to eat (oh, shush.. I’m often ready to eat). Today was our first breakfast in Blu since our Aug 2016 cruise. Still love this restaurant, just as much for their breakfasts as well as dinners.

After breakfast, we went to Café al Bacio for tea, bonus coffee and just viewing the early morning at sea.

Afterwards, we played trivia at 10.45 and 13.45, actually winning the latter. It was Music Trivia, and we got 28/29. Who remembered the singers of ‘Disco Inferno’ were ‘The Tramps’?  Holly spent a bit of time in between those trivia matches practicing Train, a game we enjoy and generally only play on cruises, though almost always- trivia is preferred.

Tonight was our first ‘Evening Chic’ night – what on Celebrity passes for ‘Formal Night’. A bit more smart casual in dress code, and frankly, more relaxed; I think Celebrity carry off this theme well.

Tomorrow, we are in Boston.

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Boston  (Day 5)
Tuesday October 9, 2018

It was a beautiful morning on arrival into Bawstun Hawbuh.  Although a little cloudy, there were airplanes departing Logan (BOS), climbing and turning underneath moderately sunlit clouds.   

We were drinking beer at 10.00.  ‘Nuff said.

We went for an early tour of the Sam Adams Brewery.  It lasted about an hour, and was excellent in information about the brewing process, but rather more to the point – was excellent in taste;  we had 4 5oz samples each, and could have had more.  We decided not to do so, as one must exercise alcoholic self control at such an hour – if one is to disregard the same control later in the evening, back aboard.

Prior to dinner, while Holly was still getting ready, I went to the Martini Bar to conduct research on the quality of the offerings.  It was good, and gave me a chance to get to know one of the bartenders, Togi.  Togi is from Turkey, and is married with one boy (4) and a girl (2); his immediate family live in Ukraine, but his parents, still in Turkey, naturally want their Grandchildren home with them.  After just one excellent drink (Peartini), I preceded to the Rendezvous Lounge.

We socialized for bit until dinner, then headed into Blu, then to the Martini Bar.   

Tomorrow, we are in Portland, Maine.

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Portland (Day 6)
Wednesday October 10, 2018

Fall Foliage is not exactly associated with warm weather; somewhat the opposite, actually. It was rather warm today, reaching 84 F.  At 10.30, we went on a walking foodie tour of the city, and for some, the heat, though not unexpected, proved to be a challenge.

Unfortunately, bad first impressions engendered a negative impression, and it chiefly had to do with the size of our group for the tour venue in which we began. We were 14, and the size of the first tasting room we entered felt like a clown car to many.  Combined with literally circling around the table so we could all pass by the samples, set the tone for many. Where this venue and another (small ice cream shop) remain unchanged, a group size in excess of 10 seems illogical.

That said, our tour guide was a bit of a trooper. She tried perhaps a bit too hard to please, and since she could neither affect the weather or at that point – the group size, she seemed a bit ill prepared for the trudging along feeling of many, rather than one of great fun. After 90 mins (of 180), I was ready to go, but we had two people with us who specifically came from St. Louis to hang out with us today, and tomorrow. For that singular reason, I stayed the duration.

This was not all gloom and doom; there were positive things from today’s tour. We got to try a variety of foods, such as mocha balsamic vinigrette, a lobster roll, spicy blackened shrimp, chowder, beer and ice cream. All were pretty good.

We said goodbye to our guide, and walked back to the ship, arriving about 13.30.

Tomorrow, we are in Bar Harbor, Maine.

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At Sea  (Day 7)
Thursday October 11, 2018

What had happened was….

Mother Nature decided to throw a fit.  The approach to Bar Harbor… um, harbor- was very stormy, and too risky for the ship’s tenders.  So, the Captain decided that we would divert in favor of a few more shovels of coal in the boilers, and a flat out run North to the next port, Quebec City, to arrive nearly 15 hours early.

With that, we had an unplanned day at sea, one with high winds, multiple games of Trivia (we won twice today!), and a trip to the Rendezvous Lounge (our pre-dinner hang out), and then Martini Bar, our post-dinner hang out.

Had a nice chat with Gerardo (from Monterrey, Mexico), whom is among our Cruise Critic friends, and quickly becoming a person with whom I’d like to stay in touch; an easy decision as he loves Soccer probably as much as I do.  Gerardo is a man of seemingly quiet fortitude – his wife, Lupita, had an issue with her Visa and could not make the trip. It would be easy for most folks to say what they would do in this situation, but for them, it was ok for him to continue his journey.

Tomorrow, we are at sea.

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At Sea  (Day 8)
Friday October 12, 2018

A relaxing, uneventful day at sea for most of the day.  I went to Café al Bacio to work on a few resumes (online at sea…. eh) before meeting Holly for our usual breakfast in Blu.  Afterwards, it was back to Café al Bacio for bonus coffee and tea, before playing (and winning) another game of trivia.

This team have won four matches against the rest of the passengers’ teams.  There was a point of contention yesterday about ‘the’, as in singular – country bordering Germany to the East.  The accepted answer was Poland; while I maintain that the Czech Republic should have been acceptable.

I went to the Solarium for a swim, then went to the Persian Garden in the Spa.  It was very relaxing, just chilling (er, warming) on that heated stone bench, and listening to a few Boston albums.

Sadly, this is the last time we ever expect to eat in QSine, as Celebrity Cruises are replacing this restaurant with ‘La Petite Chef’ (Interactive w/possible holograms) when each ship gets her Edge-esq upgrades.

Tomorrow, we are essentially at sea.  Scheduled arrival into Quebec City is 21.00.

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At Sea  (Day 9)
Saturday October 13, 2018

This was mostly another day at sea.

We began with our usual breakfast joint in Blu, then – you guessed it…. played more trivia. We won our fifth match against the other passengers, and lost by 1 on 2 of the other 3 other occasions throughout the day.

A majority of the balance the morning and afternoon was spent cruising the St. Lawrence River and keeping a weather eye out for whales. We saw a few spouts, but no breaching. They probably wanted to stay warm – it was about 48°F midday.

We arrived in Quebec City about 19.00, and wow, what a view. The city skyline at night is amazing.  We finished our evening sitting in the Revelations Lounge on Deck 11 just looking at the city, and talking about the next day.

Tomorrow, we are in Quebec City.


Quebec City, Quebec (Day 10)
Sunday October 14, 2018

Une belle ville!

Quebec is a very beautiful city.  I went out for a jog at 5.40 for about an hour.  At 6°C (43°F), I was well motived to keep moving.  Ironic, that 3 hours later, the Quebec City Marathon would begin, but there was no danger this time out of my joining it, rather, I wanted to run through the city and up a fair amount of steps to get to the Terrasse Dufferin, a promenade atop the city.  The view was worth it, as I was rewarded with an unobstructed view of the city and port below – though it was still fairly dark outside.

After returning to the ship, I met Holly, Steve & Jamie for breakfast in Blu, then we all headed out at 8.30 for our own tour of La Citadelle de Québec, and the city.  The Citadel dates to 1693, and under control of France.  It was conquered by the British in 1759, and was used to repel the American invasion of Canada during the War of 1812.  Since 1985, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site.  It is an active military base, and is home to the Royal 22e Régiment.

We walked up 24 flights of stairs (an engineering marvel on the outside of the complex) during a scenic ascent of the city, and after our tour, took the city route back to the ship.  We went through a wonderful area of town, quite old and reminiscent of an old French village. This part was very cool.

We returned to the cruise terminal to meet our guide, and at 13.30, were off again – this time on a 2.5 hour walking food tour.  Our guide, Richard, was great.  He took us to a variety of places where the food we sampled included Poutine (Sorry, Ken & Sandy…this was much better than the Fringe in Edmonton), Chocolate, Cider, and Emu (yep). Most of it was to our liking, but the company made it better.

After our tour, we were mostly pretty beat (17, 890 steps, since you asked), and settled in for another drink or two in the Rendezvous Lounge before dinner.

This is an overnight stay for Celebrity Summit.  Tomorrow, we are in Quebec City.

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Quebec City, Quebec (Day 11)
Monday October 15, 2018

We were glad to have turned in early last night. It was quite a bit more walking than we are used to. Still, one should, as middle age approaches – keep moving, and this hopefully was the start of us doing just that.

As coffee is quite necessary for survival, we were happy to get down to breakfast for the best on the ship; Blu has amazing coffee. We are recovered already.

Holly went ashore with Jamie & Steve to shop and sightsee while I remained onboard to edit film, pictures, blog, and just chill. We love cruising, but sometimes for me the ship is the destination. After a long day out yesterday, this morning, I’m perfectly ok with that side of things – enjoying beautiful Celebrity Summit.

I finished blogging from yesterday’s adventures, then met Gerardo on the Sports Deck for proper futbol, It was just a one-on-one kick around, and although just for camaraderie’s sake, Gerardo won 1-0. Happy to lose to the master from Monterrey  🙂

Holly had a good day out, going back to La Fudgerie, and visiting Le Chateau Frontenac. This is a stunning hotel, and one to which we must return for a stay. Prior to dinner, we met for two games of trivia while we watched our 15.30 departure from Quebec.

Tomorrow, we are at sea.

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At Sea  (Day 12)
Tuesday October 16, 2018

Ahoy! We experienced pretty good ocean movement today throughout the day. The waves were probably no higher than 6’, but the current was strong. Celebrity Summit, even at appx 98,000 tons, experienced a bit of pitching and rolling.  The crew members who were out cleaning the decks during this are especially appriciated.

After morning trivia, we got lunch at the Pool Grill, and due to weather, brought it back to our cabin to eat, after which, Holly studied her eyelids, while I continued work on the film of this trip.

We played more trivia in the afternoon, then remained at the Rendezvous Lounge for drinks before going to dinner. We were due to visit the Martini Bar and finish off the evening with a bit of high stakes $.25 video poker, but the sea state really got to Holly – she left prior to desert to go to bed (someone forgot their Dramamine).

After Steve, Jamie and I finished, I went to check on her – she was woozy but otherwise okay, and resting. I got her blessing to go back out for a bit, and went to the Martini Bar for one drink (my favorite there, a Peartini). With no one else from our main group there, I had a nice surprise when Gerardo stopped by. We had a chat for about 25 mins, before he went to his late seating dinner.

Tomorrow, we are in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

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Charlottetown, PEI  (Day 13)
Wednesday October 17, 2018

Holly and I went to separate locations today. While we do nearly everything together, time constraints (a schedule change in the port call from 9 hours to 6) meant we needed to go to separately to cover what we wanted to see.

I went to Victoria Row, a small restaurant & shops area just about 15 mins walk from the pier.  In initial trip planning, I had thought our pier was to be much farther away, and was pleasantly surprised at how close it was.  I had a nice time, considering I had an unplanned solo trip at the last minute, and made the best of it by taking a few pictures so Holly could see what this area was like. Nearly to plan, I went to a pub (vice a craft brewery a few miles away originally scheduled), having stumbled onto an Irish one while walking the area.  Occasionally, some of the best travel treats are these unplanned discoveries.

Holly was on a private tour to see the Anne of Green Gables house used for the inspiration of that story.  The driver took her about 30 miles away to the small town of Cavendish, the location of the Green Gables home.  Before touring the main home, she watched a short film about the author – Lucy Montgomery.

The house is appointed with 18th century period furniture in an effort to depict it as it is in the novel. Holly said the various rooms’ decorations made her feel like she could see the various scenes of the novel playing out.

Tomorrow, we are in Sydney, Nova Scotia.

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Sydney, Nova Scotia (Day 14)
Thursday October 18, 2018

Sydney is a small, quiet area – a fact perhaps due as much to the time of year as any other factor. This is a place to come and bramble around nature, a small town, and eventually the outer areas of this part of Nova Scotia.

There are perhaps two weeks remaining in the cruising season here, and some of the shops, museums and churches to visit were not open as early as 9.30, but that is actually a bit refreshing – that they are on their schedule, not on one beholding to any cruise line. Life just seems slowed down here, and that’s rarely a bad thing.

Rather than go out for a 6-7 hour tour, Holly and I walked around the city, deciding not go out longer on what developed into a very cold and breezy day. We will likely venture out on a successive trip, as here, today, we are in no hurry – plenty of time to return.

There are a few nice sculptures near the dock, including one from Ocean Plastic, and a lion that used to sit atop the Royal Bank of Canada here from 1901-1976 ; it was erected to honor British veterans involved in the Boer War in South Africa.

Had lunch, though we took our Pool Grill burgers inside the Oceanview Cafe due to cold.  Earlier, we had run into Eileen in town, and the 3 of us had a nice time at Timmy’s… especially as Eileen had never been to one.

Sacrilege! Celebrity Summit seems to not be keeping up her Shuffleboard court due to her impending refit Feb-Mar 2019. Although it was cold today, we would have played, what for us, is a traditional tourney.  Ah, well.

Tomorrow, we are in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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Halifax, Nova Scotia  (Day 15)
Friday October 19, 2018

We arrived in Halifax just after 9.00.  Holly and I waited for organized tours to depart before heading out on our self-guided walk (We walked 4.5 miles today) through part of Halifax we had not been to on our last visit here in Oct 2015.

We walked through the snow (ok, it wasn’t snowing at all, but at 41 deg F, it was a cold, windy day to be out on foot).  We went to the Halifax Public Gardens; it was very pretty, though at this time of year, of course, the park is not in full bloom.  

Afterwards, we walked down to the waterfront, where I said goodbye to Holly – not wanting to tag along for her shopping to follow.  I returned to the ship, happy to set out the day’s journal, edit a few pictures, and grab a bite to eat before heading off to the Persian Garden for a steam and sit-down on the heated stone benches.

Holly had a nice day shopping, picking up requisite maple cookies, but something very unique – a locally made over ‘push/pull’, a wooden device use to ease opening/closing an oven’s rack.

Tonight was our last was our last Evening Chic night, a final night to get dressed up, though, to quote an Ella Fitzgerald tune, combined with a variety of passengers’ separate ideas of what elegant attire is – ’Anything Goes’  could have been considered appropriate.

Prior to dinner, we went to hang out with Marly (from Colombia) in the Rendezvous Lounge.  She has a great attitude, and is a fun person to have as our waitress here.

We never take the staff for granted. Sure, we’re the customers, but we want to know about them, too.  

Tomorrow, we are at sea.

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At Sea  (Day 16)
Saturday October 20, 2018

Today, our last full day of the cruise, was a relaxing one.

After breakfast, I went to the Spa for a haircut. Dineo, a stylist from South Africa, was good. She seemed surprised we have never been to Africa yet in our travels, and offered January as a good time (not Dec she said) to visit post-Christmas crowd Cape Town.

Regarding trivia – in total, we won 10 matches on this cruise, and amassed 60 vouchers.  A new thing for Celebrity – instead of getting a keychain, pen, hat, etc., after each game, teams get vouchers (one per person) to be exchanged at the end of the cruise.  We decided to get a towel and medals.

Finished off the afternoon before dinner with our last patronage at Marly’s Place, known to the uninitiated as the Rendezvous Lounge.  Marly has been awesome.  She flies home in March, and we’ve practically begged her to request Celebrity Reflection for her next contract when she returns in May (We are on Reflection in 2019 for an Ireland/Iceland cruise).

Tomorrow, we are in Cape Liberty, NJ and will fly home.

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CONCLUSION

Sunday October 21, 2018

This was a relaxing vacation.

It does not rate as a top cruise experience, but rather in a ‘top half’ of them.  The reason for other than top marks was due mostly to staffing. The crew were not all like Marly, though many did put out a very solid effort. The issue was that the management deciding service in many public lounges, but particularly the Rendezvous Lounge, did not assign and/or adjust based on realtime need.

On several occasions, like over half – the Martini Bar would appear to have plenty of servers to customers, but the Rendezvous Lounge was woefully understaffed during peak times. Additionally, it was often the only bar on this deck open during Canadian port visits, and still was understaffed.  Not great oversight on this one on the part of Celebrity Summit management.

As to other crew, in Blu, Waiter Ramil was very polite, but a bit on autopilot. In about 26 meals with him, there were 6 mistakes, just forgotten or incorrect items that had been ordered. Otherwise, Sommelier Svetlana, and Bar Serviceman (Amazing) Randy were great. Maître d Vladi and Host Tatiana were good.

Our cabin steward, Ryan, was the first person in all our years our cruising that actually tried too hard. We made a decision to only stick with the standard gratuity that was prepaid, and unlike several others on board (Marly, chief among them) that were easy decisions for extra tips, we found it beyond the norm to give extra to a person who, about 2x avg daily, would ask if he could improve his service (we would have said something if we needed him to). What started out as very helpful morphed into overbearing (we told him several times we’d let him know if we needed anything).

Other than that, it was a very nice experience. The ports were good. Quebec City especially, was stunning.   It was wonderful to meet Gerardo and Eileen.

Celebrity Summit Cruise Director Patrick and Activities Manager Charlotte were very good. Trivia host Rhuss was good, though host Gigi’s joke routine was quickly memorized. Occasionally, Activities Manager Charlotte personally ran trivia.

See you around on the next adventure (Dec 2018, aboard Celebrity Edge)

Cheers,
Bob & Holly

NY Harbor arrival
NY Harbor arrival

26 Replies to “Fall Foliage”

  1. Bob your friendship is invaluable and thank you to help me to overcome the sadness that Lupita did not travel with us, I was very happy that we could play football and share those unforgettable moments in the Martini Bar, I hope that in the future we can go back to a cruise together.

  2. Great review… and photos! Thanks for sharing. We had a fun and relaxing time on this trip. Highlights for me were our pre-stay in New York, Quebec City, Halifax, and Blu. Loved our aft Aqua stateroom too. Agree totally with you on service in certain bars during busy times… especially Rendezvous. Looking forward to staying in touch and cruising together again… will get into trivia next time! If you get to our area in coastal North Carolina, we’d love to get together!

  3. That just went by too fast. I’m sad that we’re home from our cruise already. Once again, thank you so much for the daily blog, photos, updates and comments. I’ve had a great time. Can’t wait to do another ride-along in December.

  4. It does seem that Celebrity’s “shabby chic” nights are still causing confusion. It used to be that people got dressed up, but sadly no longer.

  5. Love the photos and the blog of your journey. I was last in Sydney when I was a wee lass (the dinosaurs were still roaming) and attending an International Girl Guide/Girl Scout camp. It looks a little different 40 yrs later! 😂

  6. Eh bien, faites attention maintenant que vous avez été immergé en français. Dommage qu’ils ne jouent pas au football quand vous étiez sur les plaines d’Abraham

  7. Silly Bob. You are in the poutine capital of the free world. Of course it is better than any in Edmonton. The pictures and the blog entry are awesome. You handle the Francais with the ease of a man to the manor born.

  8. Oooh no, not Bar Harbor! That means you didn’t get a slice of blueberry pie. You did, however, get to survive so that’s always a good choice. It sounds like a fun cruise so far.

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