Our first cruise was to Canada and New England so we had been thinking about sailing north again.  This particular cruise caught our eye because it was an all Canada 10 day itinerary that went all of the way to Quebec City and returned to NYC.  We like sailing from New York because we can get there via commuter bus without the hassles that come with flying.  The "thinking" process came to an end in February when we heard about several neighbors falling victim to some medical issues which caused us to pull the trigger and book the cruise.     

 

The really nice thing about this 10 day cruise was the mix of port and sea days.  Typical 7 day cruises from New York have a couple sea days at either end with several port calls grouped together in the middle.  This one, by contrast, had some sea days between ports which is always nice.  We walked our butts off in a couple of the ports and especially appreciated the sea day in-between to rest.

 

Like previous cruises, we signed onto the Cruise Critic "Roll Call" for this cruise and began making contact with a bunch of fellow cruisers.  We participated in a Meet & Greet where the Captain and a number of the officers came to introduce themselves to us.  The group also set up a "cabin crawl" which gave all of us an opportunity to check out the various cabin classes available on the ship.  This time around the Cabin Crawl was merged with a Poker Run which added to the fun.  In addition, we participated in a Slot Pull which was lots of fun but, in the end, we didn't fare so well.

 

Be sure and click on any image for a larger view, some additional information about the image, some camera information and a satellite image of where the picture was taken.

Click here for more information on what the flickr images contain--> flickr instruction.

 

Halifax....

This was our second time in Halifax and, like the first, it rained.  We arrived with the remnants of TS Leslie on our tail.  For this port we signed up for a 5 hour excursion titled "Shutterbugs Delight".  Our guide was very knowledgeable and interesting to listen to but he was not a photographer.  The excursion was worthwhile none the less because we heard details that would have been missed had we been on our own.  We made 5 stops on the excursion; Peggy's Cove, a public garden, the Titanic cemetery, a city overlook, and a market by the water.  It POURED the entire time but we were better prepared than most with rain coats, rain pants, and protection for our cameras.  Some didn't even get off the bus but we did at each stop and did the best we could to capture some images.  Our original intention was to return to one or two of the locations but after 5 hours in the rain a hot lunch aboard the ship was more appealing.

                                               

 

Quebec City....

This was  without a doubt, the major port of call on the cruise.  The ship arrived around 1pm, stayed over night, and didn't depart until 10pm the second day.  The weather was absolutely wonderful!  Quebec is divided into a lower and upper city.  We met Frank at the M&G and he asked if he could tag along to share the photography experience with us.  The three of us spent the first afternoon capturing images in the lower city and returned to the ship around 6:30pm for dinner.  After dinner we headed back into the city with our tripods to capture some night scenes in both the lower and upper sections.  We returned to the ship around 11pm after having walked just about all our old dogs could handle.  Next morning Kathy and I were refreshed and headed back to cover the upper section in daylight.  Someone had told us to take the "Funicular" to the upper city and head off to the left and walk completely around the Citadel which is what we did.  They failed to tell us about the 300+ steps UP to the Citadel but we persevered and went all the way around.  Much to our surprise, the Citadel is an active military installation.  It was open for guided tours but we decided to save that for the next trip.  We had lunch in the city and made our way back to the ship after spending 4-5 hours on our feet taking our cameras for a walk.

                                                                                                                                      

 

Corner Brook....

We had a much appreciated sea day following our walking expedition in Quebec.  Nothing was planned for Corner Brook but we did hear about some trails along a creek and around a pond.  There were some people right on the pier handing out maps and information so we asked about the trails.  We found out that the furthest point on the trail crosses over a gorge and eventually brings you by the stream and lake into town.  Good enough for us, so we took the free shuttle to a mall near the trailhead and walked back.  I should mention that I had met Tony capturing some sunrise images in Quebec, struck up a conversation about photography and he joined us on the trail in Corner Brook.  There were loads of photo ops along the trail but the most interesting was a 6 foot diameter pipe running down the mountain to feed water to an electrical generator for the paper mill.  The upper section of the pipe was installed in the 1920's and was made of wood and covered with leaks.  The three of us practiced some close-up photography, making water "flow", and capturing images of the scenery along the way.  5-6 hours later we arrived back at the ship, tired, but feeling great about the day we had.  

                                                                                              


 

Sydney....

We arrived in Sydney in a pouring rain.  Like Corner Brook, we really had no plans but one thing for sure, we were not up to the amount of walking we did the day before.  Our intention was to stay close to the port.  There was some shopping available right on the pier and a free wi-fi hotspot so we stayed there waiting out the rain.  Eventually we wandered out along the water on a boardwalk and strolled the main street back to the pier.  

                                

 

 

Our Cabin....

We decided to spring for a balcony this time around and found that there were four balcony cabins available in less than ideal locations.  NCL prices these at a lower rate and lists them as "Guaranteed Cabin Type".  In other words, they'll get you a balcony cabin which may be one of these less than ideally located ones but could just as well be in an upgraded location.  Two days before departure we got our assigned cabin and were amazed at what we got.  The cabin was the best we've ever had and was simply bigger all the way around.  We later heard it referred to as a "mini-Suite".

                          


The Ship....

This was our first time on GEM.  Structurally it's the same as the other NCL ships we've been on but each has their own unique decor and features.  For instance, GEM has a rock climbing wall and a bowling alley which none of the others had.  Regardless, these ships are amazing machines and I enjoyed walking around capturing some images.

                                                                                                                 

For the photographers among you:  Joe's images were captured with a Nikon D300 and a Nikon Coolpix P7000 P&S.  Kathy's images were taken with a Nikon D5100 DSLR.  In addition, we also geotagged our images with a Sony GPS-CS3KA.

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