The Zuiderdam sailed about 150 miles from Quebec City down the Saint Lawrence Seaway until we reached the Saguenay River where we turned left for another 75 miles until we arrived at La Baie a little before 8 am. Although the port call is advertised on the itinerary as Saguenay, the actual town where we moored is called La Baie which is about 10 miles from the actual town of Saguenay.
Saguenay is also the name of the region. They have their own flag, which is proudly displayed alongside the Quebec provincial flag and the Canadian national flag. Saguenay was formed in 2002 by combining the cities of Chicoutimi, Jonquiere, La Baie and Laterriere.
Today we went on the private Craft Cruise tour to a nearby Alpaca Farm and then to an Angora goat farm. We met our group at 8:15 am in the Ocean Bar. There was a chance of rain in the forecast, but when we left the ship the skies were clear. There were some clouds on the horizon which would bring the rain later in the day.
Saguenay is known as one of the friendliest cruise ports and they take great pride in maintaining that distinction. As soon as we left the ship we were greeted by several groups of locals, in period costume, handing out various small souvenirs. One of the big highlights of our arrival was getting a slice of the complimentary blueberry pie served up by some locals along with a small glass of blueberry juice.
After sampling these wonderful treats, our group boarded our bus and headed out toward out first stop: The Alpaca Bersi Farm.
On the way to the farm, we drove through downtown Saguenay where we came across a large scoreboard size flat screen with a live “webcam” view of the Zuiderdam so everyone downtown could see what was happening down at the wharf at La Baie. Pretty amazing, but no one was sitting in front of the screen watching.
The Alpaca Bersi Farm is run by a husband and wife team. They have over 25 Alpacas and a small shop where yarn from the resident Apacas is for sale. The skeins of yarn are named after the Alpaca that provided the fleece that was ultimately spun into the incredibly yarn. We all had a wonderful time visiting the alpacas who were all very friendly and allowed everyone a chance to interact up close if desired.
Next up was the Angora Goat farm, Le Chevrier du Nord, which was about a 45 minute drive from the Alpaca Berri Farm. The farm has been in the family since 1960 and produces wonderful yarns on site using the fleece from the Angora goats and manufactured into yarn using their own mini-mill located on the premises.
Many of our group bought some of the luxurious yarn before we headed back to the ship. As we arrived at the cruise terminal around 12:30 the rain started and showed no sign of letting up. We shopped for souvenirs and postcards in the terminal and then decided to head back to the ship well before the 4:30 All Aboard.
Here is a video summary of todays tour
The terminal has free Wi-Fi, but as usual with free Wi-Fi, it was OK for email and not much beyond that. National Car Rental had a booth in the terminal with cars available – so this would be a nice option if you wanted to explore the area on your own.
Back on the Zuiderdam we stopped by the Lido deck for lunch. We had some wonderful Fish and Chips and I had to try the Beef Stroganoff. Everything was fantastic. I noticed that the beverage machines were exactly the same as the machines we found on our recent QM2 voyage. I suspect that the Carnival Corp is working to standardize certain items across their lines. The machine offered Lemonade and Iced Tea.
On the way back to our cabin, I took a detour by the Dive Inn and grabbed a crisp beef taco. This is always a nice choice for something quick.
We spent the afternoon relaxing in our cabin. We haven’t had a chance to use our extra-large veranda due to the poor weather, but we are looking forward to spending some time out there was we get further south.
Dinner was a joy as always. For the starter I had the Fairbanks Seafood Platter and the Andouille and Swiss Chard. Both were Excellent. For the main course Judy and I both had the Prime Rib which was very good. Prime Rib can be tricky to produce in the mass quantities, but Holland America always manages to pull it off and tonight wasn’t any different. One of the features we like about Craft Cruises is that we are able to change tables every night and sit with different people, but still part of our larger group. It is a nice compromise between fixed seating and totally open seating – especially when everyone in the group shares so many common interests.
After dinner Judy spent some time with the knitting group up in the Lido while I worked on the blog posts. Even though we are eating at first seating, we still enjoy going to the 10 PM show. Comedian Glenn Hirsch was on the main stage tonight and he put on a wonderfully hilarious show. He perfectly blended his New York wit with some cruise ship observations and contrasted California living vs. living in the Big Apple. A wonderful evening.
We were happy to see one of our beverage attendants from the World Cruise in the Vista Lounge. Manny always does a great job and is very friendly.
Tomorrow is our first sea day and we are looking forward to taking it easy.
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