East Coast, West Coast: Choose a Cruise and Escape The Heat
PHOTO: The Maasdam cruises out of Boston with stops in Nova Scotia, Quebec City and Montreal, making for a breezy respite from summer's heat. (Photo courtesy of Holland America Line)
Sick of summer yet? Hop on a cool East or West coast cruise to beat the heat. Holland America Line offers getaways to New England/Canada, out of Boston; or fly west and cool off in Alaska and Vancouver. Both will bring relief from the heat and throw in a dose of history, not to mention drop-dead gorgeous nature scenes.
Cruise out of Boston on HAL’s Maasdam and visit Bar Harbor, along with towns in Nova Scotia, winding up in Quebec City and Montreal. You’ll need a light jacket at night and, during the day, will comfortably stroll historical streets without breaking a sweat. Spend some time in the ship’s Explorations Café, researching the history you’re about to experience. This library/café/lounge is a comfortable spot to relax and become educated about all that Nova Scotia has to offer.
Halifax offers a no-cost walking tour that will take you through neighborhoods which still show the scars of the 1917 munitions cargo ship explosion. This disaster caused the most devastating man-made explosion in the world, prior to the H-bomb. Learn about Boston’s continuing connection to Halifax as a result of this disaster.
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This is one cruise which does not require an excursion purchase. You might want to sign up for a tour of Acadia National Park out of Bar Harbor, however, as Cadillac Mountain provides sights you won’t want to miss…and these tours are reasonably priced. The other ports are at the edge of each town and all are walkable.
If you are on a budget and yet flexible, wait until the last minute to find a great deal on an inside stateroom. However, if money is no object, try out a Neptune Suite for a lavish treat. Holland America offers every level of cruise from budget to sublime, and this route provides activities regardless of your financial resources.
On the opposite coast lies an opportunity to explore our country’s largest state, Alaska. HAL’s Nieuw Amsterdam departs Vancouver with stops in Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan, while sailing through Glacier Bay. You’ll need a heavier jacket for this jaunt, even in the middle of summer, providing a needed respite from the heat and humidity of the lower 48.
The Inside Passage offers quaint, walkable towns at each port. However, adventurous excursions are well worth the price. In Juneau, you might hop on a float plane and coast over several glaciers in Alaska’s massive ice fields. Or, take a helicopter ride, culminating in a hike atop a glacier. These activities are not for the weak of heart, but most can accommodate any age or physical limitation.
For a slower pace, you can choose a leisurely train trip to Skagway’s White Pass Summit, or a boat ride to the Misty Fiords cliffs off the coast of Ketchikan. Just watching and listening to the sounds of the Margerie Glacier, from the ship, is enough to make this trip worthwhile. If you’re looking for photo opps and “Ooh…Ahh” moments, this is the cruise for you.
During a day at sea, on the Nieuw Amsterdam, there is no shortage of entertainment. The Culinary Arts Center offers a wide range of classes and demonstrations. A favorite is Master Mixologist Dale DeGroff’s showcase of signature drinks created exclusively for Holland America. Other classes include cake decorating, the art of vegetable and fruit carving, and lessons in creating some of the ship’s favorite recipes.
Upon return to Vancouver, take advantage of the Hop-On Hop-Off experience, especially if you have a late flight out. For a reasonable price, they will relieve you of your luggage and have it waiting for you at the airport. Spend the day exploring this beautiful city’s many facets. From Stanley Park, with its Totem Pole park, to the view from Prospect Point, to the funky shops of Gastown, discovering the many facets of this friendly, walkable city will keep you entertained before your journey home.
East coast, West coast, whichever you choose, a refreshing break from summer’s heat and humidity awaits at both of these cruise destinations. As long as your passport’s up to date, grab a jacket, turn off the air-conditioner, and enjoy cooler temps.
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