August 30, 2018

That Time I Went To Halifax...

The last stop (finally!... 4 months later...) on my transatlantic Carnival cruise was Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

This was the port I was most excited for because we had a duck tour scheduled. Every time I'm in a city that has them, I've wanted to go on one, and I was finally going to!...
In Halifax they are owned by a different company and they are called "Harbor Hoppers" - frogs instead of ducks.

I liked it even better because that meant the vehicles are green. But our tour was the last thing we did in Halifax, so I'm going to go back to the beginning of the day.

We got into port and everyone raced of the ship. We hadn't seen land for 6.5 days. We weren't in that much of a hurry except that we had added another excursion that started at 10am.

We got off the ship, took some photos with Carnival's photo props, and found the meeting spot for our excursion: "Lobsters & Lighthouses."

This was not a cheap excursion. Husband decided that we should do it EXCLUSIVELY because in the description it said "Prepare to help the captain and crew pull up a lobster trap." So we were expecting a pretty small group. After all, we were going to help pull up a lobster trap!

As we waited at the meeting place, more and more people showed up for the same tour as us. There were at least 50 people.

It was finally time to head to the tour boat which was ~10 minute walk. We picked outside seats on the front of the boat, and once everyone had boarded, off we went.

The tour guides were armed with a few stories about the Halifax history as we motored down the harbor to see the lighthouses.
There were three.
And they were small.
This was as close as they took us to this one.

The boat turned around and headed to our lunch destination. On the journey, a guy visited the different areas of the boat with a live lobster, let us hold it and the tour guide told us all about lobsters. The most interesting part being that, if in danger, they can detach their claws, which will slowly but surely grow back.

We were most of the way to the restaurant when we remembered that we were supposed to see the lobster trap. We asked on of the crew members and they explained that their license only allows pulling up the trap between June 1st and October 31st, and that "that's why they brought out the live lobster for us." We were there in May.

We arrived at the restaurant and were served over-cooked lobster. We should have expected this since 50 people had to all be served lobster at the same time, so our precious lobsters were sitting under heat lamps, waiting for us.

So, no, the excursion was in no way worth the money ($120/person). I had previously selected a restaurant to have lobster for lunch and we don't care about lighthouses. And we didn't see the one thing that made us want to book the tour - the lobster trap. Oh. And upon review of the excursion description, the "holding of a live lobster" was also supposed to be a part of a tour, so we called extra BS on that being in place of the lobster trap.

We did enjoy the boat ride- just not for the high cost. We had our duck tour booked for later that day making this boat ride was redundant since we didn't care about the three small lighthouses they had to show us. We complained to Guest Services about lobster-trap-gate and got part of our cost back, but still not enough since we didn't even get to have good, fresh-from-the-sea lobster that I was looking forward to. The tour guides were pretty good, I guess.

After our sad lunch, we headed to a local craft-brewery that I had sought out for Husband: Garrison Brewing Company.

Along the way we saw public bathroom/port-o-potty structure that was built into a shipping container...

A weird sculpture that you're not supposed to climb on, but the parents didn't seem to care about their children's safety...

And the "Last Steps" memorial: a gang plank that represents the last time many soldiers stepped foot on Canadian soil when they shipped out on the HMS Saxonia to fight in the Great War. Which I thought was a pretty cool way to honor them. It definitely got my attention enough to check it out when I walked by.

And then we spent about an hour trying to buy stamps to mail post cards... made extra diffcult because it was a national holiday ("Victoria Day"?). We finally found them at a grocery store.

After buying our stamps we made it to Garrison's. It was a cool place with both indoor and outdoor seating. They only serve samplers, which people solved by ordering a sampler of all one beer.

Husband got one sample of cider for me and 4 beers for himself. I liked my cider and I believe he liked all his beers. I don't think that he would be able to tell me which ones he got if I asked, so I can't make a more specific recommendation, except that the brewery was really close to the pier making it very convenient to cruisers.

We finished up at Garrison's and headed back to the pier for our Hopper tour. Our "Hopperator" (they made that up, not me) drove us first around the city on land and then plunged us into the harbor.
 
We also had a tour guide that told us about the sights and had some stories about Halifax's history.

The Hoppers are run by the same company as the Lighthouse tours, so the stories were mostly the same as on our first boat ride. The guide on our Hopper was a little better, presumably just because she'd been doing it longer.

The most interesting part of the tour was leaning about the Hopper itself. The Hoppers - and Ducks in the US - were all originally built as supplies vehicles for the Vietnam war. They were able to easily go from land to swamp and back to land as needed.

The history I found most interesting was 1) the Halifax Explosion, which we'd never heard of, and 2) Halifax's involvement with the Titanic sinking.

The Halifax Explosion was a HUGE disaster that involved a munitions ship that got side-swiped by another ship (something about fog?) causing sparks and fire on board. The crew of the munitions ship tried to warn people of the impending explosion, but they were french, didn't speak English, and Halifax-ians didn't understand french - resulting in people watching the burning ship instead of running for their lives.

The explosion was the biggest man-made explosion at the time; currently 3rd to the atomic bombs the US has since dropped (on Japan and as tests). A ton of people died, tragically.

Halifax's involvement with the Titanic was post-sinking. They received the SOS as it was going down, and headed out as fast as they could to the site. However, ships were not as fast back then as they are now, so their 4-day journey was to recover bodies, as there were no survivors left by then.

Halifax proudly has a maritime museum that has the largest collection of Titanic artifacts, which we did not have time to visit. It also has the Arcadia (I forget the significance) permanently docked behind the museum which we walked past after lunch.

We were delivered back to where the Horizon was docked and stupidly thought we could just get back on the ship. Instead, there was a huge line, because apparently everyone waited until the last possible moment to return. The line was luckily indoors, and surrounded by shops all the way up to where we needed to board.

Instead of waiting in the line, we got some food at a little cafe, bought some souvenirs at one of the shops, and then looked at everything there was to see in all the shops as the end of the line made it's way forward. We maybe could have gotten back on faster if we'd stood in line, but it was just moving soooo slooow. Our ship did not make it's sail-away time, as it had to wait for the line to finish getting on.

We were finally back on board and went straight to our cabin to rest a little before dinner. All we had was one night and one day left of our cruise which meant for a busy 36 hours, trying to do everything we hadn't gotten to yet.
The lighthouse-tour at least gave me a great vantage point to take this photo.

We were sad to have to return to the real world, but were fortunate to have another cruise to look forward to in < 4 months: back onboard the Horizon, Sept 13th for a 4-day cruise to Bermuda! (whoops, that is literally in two weeks, I clearly started working on this post quite some time ago).

Stay tuned!...

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