After 2 unscheduled sea days we arrived in Halifax last night and were looking forward to our day ashore. The temperature was in the high fifties to low sixties with clear, blue skies. The poor weather of the last few days was a fading memory.
Craft Cruises arranged a private excursion to Tradewind Knitwear Designs, home of Lucy Neatby, then visit the Titanic Cemetery and finally stop by the Fleece Artist/Hand Maiden yarn shop where they also dye their own yarn. We had been on this tour the last time we were here, but have never visited Halifax itself so we decided to head into Halifax on our own and explore the city on foot.
We were alongside a cruise terminal with a folding gangway that connected the terminal directly to the ship on Deck 2, port side.
About 12 noon we left the ship and headed into the terminal, stopping by the visitors bureau kiosk to pick up a map and get their recommendations of some of the best places to see in the three hours we would have ashore. All aboard was 3:30 PM. Free Wi-Fi was available in the terminal, but is generally not worth the effort. Their access point could handle 500 simultaneous users, but with three cruise ships in port today the Wi-Fi was quickly saturated.
There are is a farmers market right in the terminal which has a lot of craft type shops with local vendors selling a variety of items in addition to a few restaurants.
There is a Harbour Walk that runs along the water from the cruise terminal down toward the Nova Scotia Casino. We would walk on a big loop and return to the ship via the Harbour Walk, but first we headed down Lower Water Street, turning left on Morris Street and then right on Barrington to Blowers Street were we found a yarn shop called The Loop.
This shop specializes in natural fibers and had a wonderful selection of yarns. Immediately after entering the shop Judy noticed what appeared to be a long scarf rolled up and draped over the top of their yarn bins. We chatted with Morgan, who works in the shop, and we learned that years ago a woman spent 10 months knitting this scarf until it was over 150 yards long and was recognized, at the time, as the longest scarf in the world. Judy spotted a few balls of one of her favorite yarns, Leinen Los, a felted blend of wool and linen. She also picked up one hank of Corriedale Sock yarn dyed by the ‘indy’ (independent) dyer AbiGood in the most beautiful dark blues. After the obligatory photo op outside the shop with her purchases, we continued on our way.
We walked up Spring Garden Street past St Mary’s Basilica and the Halifax Central Library. Along the way we stopped into an interesting hobby shop, “Maritime Hobbies and Crafts” that sold a variety of models from ships to planes. In the back they had a lot of inventory for people interested in building Radio Controlled Airplanes. Judy found some iDye fabric dye that she is going to use to dye a scarf she has recently knit in an olive green. She’s hoping she’ll end up with a blue-green scarf. Time will tell.
Across the street from the Library there was an upright piano with a someone playing a variety of popular tunes to a small audience. There wasn’t any hat or tip collection container so I gather he was playing for the sheer joy of playing.
We continued down Spring Garden Street, past a Rolex store and few other high end shops along with a Tim Hortons and a Starbucks in addition to several other restaurants.
A few blocks later we entered the Halifax Public Gardens which were established in 1874 and according to the complimentary brochure, is “one of the finest surviving examples of Victorian Gardens in North America.” The Gardens cover 1 large city block and contains a wide variety of trees, plants, and ponds in addition to a bandstand and the Horticultural Hall which is now a café and gift shop. We found the park beautiful and very relaxing and if we had more time we would have enjoyed exploring it further.
After we left the park we walked back toward the water down Sackville Street until we reached the entrance to the Citadel National Historic Park and Army Museum. Reaching the Citadel requires an uphill walk that gradually brings downtown Halifax into view along with the waterfront and the Old Town Clock. There is a nice spot across from the Citadel Entrance where you can take in the wonderful view. We didn’t have time to go inside the Citadel so we have another reason to return to visit this wonderful city.
We headed down Carmichael Street where we passed thru a nice park with a war memorial and an amazing mural on a building in the background. Continuing on down the street toward the water, we turned right onto the Harbour Walk and starting walking back toward the ship. Along the way we passed an interesting sculpture called The Wave, by Donna Hiebert, which used to be surrounded by a fence to thwart climbers, but this proved ineffective so they replaced the area around the wave with a rubberized mat to provide a safer surface for people if they manage to fall off the sculpture.
Sitting on a pier across from the Bicycle Thief restaurant is a sculpture called “Got Drunk, Fell Down” which displays three light posts which are bent and curved and lying on the ground as if they were alive but quite intoxicated.
We were soon back where we started by the Farmers Market and arrived at the bottom of the gangway exactly at the 3:30 all aboard time. There was about a 15 minute line, but the time passed quickly as we chatted with some fellow guests about of their experiences on the new cruise ships that can carry up to 6000 passengers.
There was a SailAway from 3:30 to 4:30 by the Lido Pool where they were selling beer and passing around small plates of sausages. One of the waiters also entertained the small crowd by juggling some glasses and beer cans. He was pretty good. I didn’t get a chance to try any sausages as they were all gone by 4:15 when I started looking for them.
We headed back to the Sea View Pool area to watch us pull away from the dock. While waiting we saw the Disney Magic head out to sea in front of us.
For dinner I had the Wiener Schnitzel while Judy had the Baked Crab Cakes. Both of these were very good and the service was wonderful as usual.
For a change we attended the early show and got to the Vista Lounge about 7:20. The theater was already starting to fill up. By 7:45 most of the seats were full with only a few singles seats left here and there. We didn’t notice anyone saving large numbers of seats, which was good to see.
The show was called “Avalon” – and is a Ballroom inspired show featuring the Zuiderdam Singers and Dancers. They are all quite talented and we enjoyed their performance very much.
On the way back to our cabin, we always poke our heads inside the Piano Bar and the BB King Club. They are both very active with the talented musicians playing great music. We are planning to set aside some time to attend these venues and spend more than just a few minutes.
Tomorrow will be our first USA port, Bar Harbor.
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