God and Canada willing, and if the creek don’t rise, I will be back on the boat again, back to “sea” … or in this case mostly the St Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes, cruising on one of my all-time favorite ships PEARL MIST.
PEARL MIST is small-ship cruising at its best with only 210 guests all in outside staterooms, most with private balconies. Pretty much everything is included and the typical guest is well-traveled, well-educated, and has amazing life experiences. By way of example: I did about 22 cruises from Florida around Cuba before Trump resumed treating Cuba as an enemy instead of a next-door neighbor. Being a small ship we were able to get in ports that the big ships couldn’t possibly enter. As we were making our way toward Cuba, I was enjoying dinner with a group of guests and we were talking about Fidel Castro. One lady whose husband had been a merchant marine captain, turned to her husband and said, “Honey, tell them about the time you met Fidel.”
I just about choked on my entre! Turns out that to get the Bay of Pigs invaders back from Cuban prisons, the US had agreed to exchange a shipload of medical supplies for the prisoners and it was my tablemate’s ship that made the exchange the day before Christmas. Fidel, not trusting the US, insisted on coming on board the ship to personally inspect the medical supplies, This all led to a bet between the Captain and Fidel as to whose men could unload the ship faster, which in the spirit on diplomacy was declared a draw, the Captain ponying up a good bottle of Kentucky Whiskey for Fidel, and Fidel giving the Captain a bottle of aged Cuban rum. Being Christmas Eve, Fidel invited himself to a Christmas Eve dinner on board the vessel (“To see how you Americans celebrate this holiday”) but the Captain turned him down! (“Sir, being a committed atheist, I’m afraid you wouldn’t understand.”) But they struck up a friendship and the next day Fidel, with a gun-totting entourage of soldiers, took the Captain on a tour of “his” Cuba.
How fascinating was that!?! What a rich background to our visit. His wife said, “I think the NY TIMES had a picture of you with Castro on the front page.” Well I was able to find that picture and the Captain was kind enough to let me interview him in front of all the guests.
This could never have happened on a monster ship! I’ve met so many guests with fascinating life stories working on PEARL MIST!
My little trip to the ER and checking out the “White Light” has put a crimp in some of my previously scheduled assignments. Here’s the most current version with me headed back to the boat in Milwaukee August 20th.
August 20 – GREAT LAKES – Milwaukee to Toronto including Niagara Falls, Windsor/Detroit/Greenfield, Midland, Parry Sound, Georgian Bay, Little Current, Sault Ste Marie, Mackinac Island, Muskegon, Holland – 11 nights.
August 31 – CANADIAN MARITIMES & ST LAWRENCE SEAWAY – Toronto to Portland ME including Bar Harbor, Lunenburg, Halifax, Charlottetown, Iles de la Madelaine, Perce, Gaspe, Bae-Comeau, Saguenay Fjord, Quebec City, Montreal, Thousand Islands, Clayton – 15 nights.
September 15 – CANADA & NEW ENGLAND FALL FOLIAGE – Portland to Quebec City including Bar Harbor, Lunenburg, Halifax, Pictou, Charlottetown, Iles de la Madeleine, Gaspe, Perce, Baie-Comeau, Saguenay Fjord, Quebec City – 10 nights.
September 25 – CANADA & NEW ENGLAND FALL FOLIAGE – Quebec City to Portland including Bar Harbor, Lunenburg, Halifax, Pictou, Charlottetown, Iles de la Madeleine, Gaspe, Perce, Baie-Comeau, Saguenay Fjord, Quebec City – 10 nights.
October 5 – MAINE COAST & CANADIAN HARBORS – Portland ME round trip to Rockland, Bar Harbor, Campobello Island, Eastport, St Andrews, St John, Bay of Fundy, Grand Manan Island – 7 nights.
At any rate, you’ve invited to come along and join me ... if you can find space. PEARL MIST has a fiercely loyal following (Pearl Seas Cruises calls it their ‘Oyster Society”) and with the ship not running for a while due to Canadian Covid restrictions, there is great pent up demand, but if you can find a spot I’d love to see you and you will be hooked on small-ship, close-to-home (No long haul international flights!) cruising.)
More information at Pearl Seas Cruising 800-983-7462.