A Journey Down the Mighty Saint Lawrence River

In June, we'll sail aboard Adventure Canada's Ocean Endeavour on a voyage from Quebec City to St. John's, Newfoundland. Photo courtesy of Adventure Canada

In June, we’ll sail aboard Adventure Canada’s Ocean Endeavour on a voyage from Quebec City to St. John’s, Newfoundland. Photo courtesy of Adventure Canada

It’s rare that I get the opportunity to take a domestic flight to a cruise. That’s the position I find myself in next week, as I travel to Quebec City to embark Adventure Canada’s Ocean Endeavour for a 10-day voyage along the Saint Lawrence River.

For 29 years now, Adventure Canada has been providing overland and cruise expeditions to some of the most remote parts of this great country – Canada – and this Mighty Saint Lawrence expedition is the first of the company’s nine cruise-based itineraries this summer. Between June and September, Adventure Canada will explore the farthest reaches of Quebec, Newfoundland, Sable Island, the Canadian High Arctic, and Greenland.

Our journey begins in beautiful Quebec City, Canada. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Our journey begins in beautiful Quebec City, Canada. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Beginning on Wednesday, June 1, 2016, I’ll embark the 450-foot long Ocean Endeavour in Quebec City. The port is conveniently located in Lower Quebec (Vieux Quebec), in the oldest part of this historic city. It’s also within sight of one of Quebec’s most famous landmarks, the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac hotel.

The 198-guest Ocean Endeavour is a rugged ship with many past lives. Originally built for Russian shipping company FESCO, the ship has been handed down through several owners, the most recent of which was Finland-based Kristina Cruises, which operated the ship between 2010 and 2014 as Kristina Katarina. Heavily refitted during her time with Kristina Cruises and again in 2014 by Quark Expeditions, which charters the ship out to Adventure Canada each summer, she’s rugged and tough-looking on the outside, but appears to be comfortably appointed on the inside.

Still, the ship is just the means of transportation on this journey of discovery. Her fleet of inflatable zodiac rafts will take us to places that would remain inaccessible by other ships, allowing us to experience a side of the Canadian Maritimes that is rarely seen. Guests aboard large mainstream ships sailing Canada & New England voyages each fall might be lucky to call on four or five big-name ports. Over the course of 10 days, we’ll call on nine different “ports”, from national parks to an overseas colony of France.

Our Mighty Saint Lawrence journey with Adventure Canada. Illustration courtesy of Adventure Canada

Our Mighty Saint Lawrence journey with Adventure Canada. Illustration courtesy of Adventure Canada

From Quebec City, Ocean Endeavour sails for Saguenay Fjord; the Lower St. Lawrence; Forillon National Park & Gaspe, Quebec; Ille Bonaventure Provincial Park; Prince Edward Island; Cape Breton, Nova Scotia; Magdalen Islands, Quebec; an expedition stop off the coast of Newfoundland; and the French overseas territory of St. Pierre et Miquelon. Ocean Endeavour then sails back across the Atlantic to St. John’s, Newfoundland, where our adventure comes to a close.

National Geographic Traveller magazine rated this itinerary as one of its 50 Tours of a Lifetime for 2015. It’s a designation that Adventure Canada is justifiably proud of: a full-page advertisement recently ran in notable Canadian publications like The Walrus.

Eastern Canada's storied history will come alive on this expedition. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Eastern Canada’s storied history will come alive on this expedition. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

What makes this voyage so alluring is obviously its adventure expedition component. On my sailing is an expedition team of over two dozen talented individuals, among them Adventure Canada CEO Cedar Swan and noted Canadian author and TV presenter, Jay Ingram. Ingram was the host of the Discovery Canada TV show Daily Planet, as well as a co-founder of Calgary-based science festival Beakerhead. Ingram and Swan are just two of a dedicated team of expedition leaders, naturalists, scientists, geologists, authors, artists and musicians – and people far smarter than I am – who are there to ensure that all 198 of us experience this beautiful destination to its fullest.

It’s my Canadian Adventure – and you’re all invited to come along, virtually, here on From the Deck Chair. Barring internet issues, I hope to post daily between June 1 and June 10, 2016. So tune in – it’s bound to be an exciting journey!




Our Live Voyage Report aboard Adventure Canada’s Ocean Endeavor begins on Wednesday from Quebec City! Be sure to follow along with our adventures on Twitter @deckchairblog.

 

World Cruises. They’re the ultimate bucket-list itinerary for the serious cruising aficionado; month-long voyages of bliss punctuated by some of the world’s best ports of call. Few journeys offer the ability to tour the world (or, at least, large swaths of it) with the convenience of unpacking but once.

And yet, despite the rather substantial time and financial investment, world cruises have arguably never been more popular. Oceania Cruises developed some of the longest voyages at sea – and then did it again, spurred on by massive demand. Regent Seven Seas, which had abandoned the idea of world cruises for some time, recently brought them back for 2017 and 2018.

Here’s a look at some of the notable World Cruises on offer for 2017. It may be too late to book some of these, but there’s always a chance there’s a spot still open. And, if that doesn’t work…well, there’s always 2018.

Crystal Cruises

Crystal Serenity, anchored off the coast of Nafplion, Greece, will commence 2015 world cruise. © Ralph Grizzle

Crystal Serenity, anchored off the coast of Nafplion, Greece, will commence Crystal’s 2017 world cruise. © Ralph Grizzle

Most cruise lines take a worldwide approach to their World Cruises, but Crystal Cruises wants to focus on traversing one part of it in a more in-depth way. Departing on January 10, 2017 from Miami, Florida aboard Crystal Serenity, Crystal’s 94-day World Cruise focuses exclusively on South America and – as a bonus – swings down into Antarctica for four straight days of exploration on the Antarctic Peninsula. Other destinations visited include the Falkland Islands, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Brazil, Panama and the Panama Canal, Caribbean, and the Amazon River. Crystal Serenity returns to port in Miami on April 15, 2017.

Cunard Line

Cunard's Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth rendezvous in Sydney harbour. Photo courtesy of Cunard

Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth will all offer World Cruises in 2017. Photo courtesy of Cunard Line

Cunard Line is sending all three of its ships – Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria – on World Cruises in 2017, spanning between 118 and 120 nights in length.

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The launch of Royal Caribbean’s brand-new Harmony of the Seas overshadowed another important event this week: the arrival of Explorer of the Seas in Alaska.

Explorer of the Seas is the second Voyager-class ship. Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean

Explorer of the Seas is the second Voyager-class ship. Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean

The largest ship to ever regularly call on ports that include Seattle, Victoria, Juneau and Skagway, Explorer of the Seas is the biggest ship that Royal Caribbean has ever deployed in the region. She’s also the first Voyager Class ship to sail the West Coast of North America since Mariner of the Seas was removed from the Mexican Riviera run from Los Angeles (San Pedro) back in late 2010.

Departing from Seattle, the 3,286-guest ship sails weeklong itineraries to Alaska between now and September that are structured a little differently from your average voyage. Following departure from Seattle, Explorer of the Seas spends one day sailing the Pacific Ocean on the western side of Vancouver Island, followed by a day at sea cruising the scenic Inside Passage that borders the Canadian province of British Columbia and Alaska.

The Streets of Skagway. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Explorer of the Seas will call on Skagway… Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Juneau, Alaska. One of the "big three ports", Juneau is frequently overcrowded with tourists arriving on multiple megaships. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

…and Juneau, Alaska. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Explorer of the Seas then arrives in Juneau, Alaska, docking there from 12 Noon until 9 p.m. The next day, she arrives in the former Gold Rush town of Skagway, staying in port from 7:00 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. on most itineraries.

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