When you are on a cruise, the time spent in a port is precious. Our Holland America Line “Canada and New England Discovery” trip included an eight-hour stop in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Many interesting attractions are within walking distance of the cruise terminal. Stop by the Information Desk for maps and directions. We spent the morning at the city’s Public Gardens, climbing the steep hill to the Citadel, and peeking inside a basilica.
The Halifax Public Gardens were formed in 1874 by combining two older gardens. Open from April to November, the gardens have preserved their Victorian design and features statues, winding gravel paths, and a charming band stand where concerts are performed on Sunday afternoons.
Each day at noon, except Christmas, the cannons of the Halifax Citadel are fired. High up on a hill, the Citadel is one of the most visited of the country’s historic sites. Boasting the tallest polished granite spire in North America, St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica is a grand example Victorian Gothic architecture. The church’s stained glass windows are framed by lovely arches and a small museum is open daily at the back of the property.
After our morning of exploring, we were more than ready for a bit of rest and refreshment. The Waterfront Warehouse Restaurant an Oyster Bar is located beside the water–about a ten minute walk from our ship. The restaurant’s exterior is a weather-worn gray with a Canadian flag waving in the breeze beside the entrance. In a former life, the building had been used to repair tug boats and relaunch them at the wharf.
Now, the huge interior is covered in authentic Nova Scotia marine artifacts. We liked the rustic atmosphere, the gigantic bar, and the friendly staff who explained that oysters and lobster were in season, but it was a tad early for clams. During the peak of oyster season, the restaurant will serve as many as 16 varieties–each with a distinct flavor.
Joining a large group of writers, we ordered plates of appetizers and nibbled on bite size portions of Ahi Tuna Carpaccio, Krauch’s Smoked Salmon, Jumbo Shrimp served with a Vodka enhanced cocktail sauce, and oysters. A large bowl of steamed mussels were passed from one person to another. We sipped on L’Acadie Blanc–a wine that is produce in the local Grande Pre vineyards.
For entrees, we sampled the Seafood Thermidor and the Lobster Roll. Some of our friends, who ordered the lobster, traipsed to the kitchen to personally select their lunch.
The succulent seafood was some of the best we have ever eaten. Our leisurely lunch gave us a true taste of Halifax and an opportunity to talk to the locals who made suggestions on where to spend our remaining time.
After the mid-day meal, we headed over to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic which is a part of the Nova Scotia Museum. One of the most moving exhibits is “Titanic: The Unsinkable Ship and Halifax” which describes the city’s role in the disaster. The survivors went to New York, while those that perished were brought to Halifax.
Our last stop before returning to the ms Veendam was the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia where the work of one of Canada’s most loved and well-known folk artists, Maud Lewis, is on display. Not only did we get to admire the artist’s paintings, but we also saw the teeny tiny house in which she lived and used as her canvas.
Even if you have only one day, it is easy to navigate Nova Scotia’s capital city on foot and sample an abundance of its history, culture and cuisine.
To make the most of your day in Halifax, review the city’s official tourism website http://www.destinationhalifax.com/ before your arrival. To learn more about Holland America Line, visit http://www.hollandamerica.com/find-cruise-vacation/CruiseDetails.action?destCode=N&voyageCode=E348