Arctic Adventure Part 4 – Labrador & Newfoundland, Canada

Happy Valley/Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada

August 22, 2019


We had originally put ourselves on a waiting list for a hiking trip at the Birchbrook Nordic ski club about 12kms from the town as there was pretty much nothing to do in this one horse town. The town welcomed the Seabourn Quest as the first cruise ship at their ferry dock facility last year. The Quest was about as big of a ship as they could probably accommodate in this port, but it was an important port of call for the ship as believe it or not provisions were getting extremely low 😱. Fresh fruit and vegetables were at a kitchen concerning low, and yikes, they were running out of some wines and spirits! Hence the reason for such a long port of call. 

Iquilut was an at anchor, truly service stop only, for customs and that was all. Some passengers were disappointed they couldn’t go ashore… I think it was just the desire to put their feet on solid ground, but there really was absolutely nothing to offer 450 ship bound passengers. 

We looked ahead at the weather forecast and it appeared it would be cool, not cold like Greenland, but undesirable temperatures for us in the rain, which was forecast at 1/4” the day prior and continuing through the day after we departed. For hiking this would make for boggy trails in less than favorable for Joe & Lisa conditions. 

We were ok that we were on the waiting list without much hope of our clearing because the issue for adding tours was due to the transportation aspect. L’ol and behold we were notified the day prior to our arrival that they had managed to add an extra section and enclosed were our tickets… which we promptly returned (after double checking that the forecast hadn’t improved).

Happy Valley/Goose Bay in the Labrador province was a pretty small town. Although to be fair the weather was pretty awful when we arrived. It was/had been raining, but the wind was blowing, no sorry, howling so much that umbrellas were turned inside out rendering them useless. The community ran a shuttle bus (read: yellow school bus) from the pier to downtown Happy Valley. The shuttle bus stopped at the Birchbrook nature trail which is a short boardwalk out to the marsh and the coast. We wandered a short bit of the trail until it got to be too wet and sought refuge at the Scotia bank ATM lobby where we pulled on our waterproof pants while withdrawing Canadian dollars. 

There wasn’t much in the town but we hoped to find a WiFi connection that was faster than the ships to at least sync and back up our devices. Our first stop on this futile search was at the public library. The four of us on their WiFI pretty much brought it to a screeching halt so we gave up. 

It was now lunch time and raining pretty hard. The, um, librarian (aka: lady working there) told us to go ahead and eat our picnic at the only table in the place. We were very careful not to leave crumbs or traces of our having feasted on last nights fried chicken and Thomas Keller’s Grill chocolate chip cookies before moving on to the tourist information center to give their WiFi connection a go. Again we were met with double digit numbers of passengers from the ship all with the same intention and so after a while, we packed everything up and returned to the ship.

None of the restaurant offerings were that enticing for us tonight as the weather was cold and rainy so that cancelled, Earth & Ocean Grill, the outdoor venue by the pool for us. It was a pity as we would have eaten there had it been enclosed in some way as the heat lamps simply didn’t provide enough warmth in the outdoor setting to make it enjoyable for us. This is the one downside of the Seabourn Quest. It’s an expedition ship so 90% of the itineraries are in the arctic or Antarctic cold climate, so why do they have an outdoor pool and dining area that surrounds it? Crystal had a lovely retractable roof that could be opened and closed (fully or partially) in accordance with the weather. Even Celebrity has an indoor permanent glass topped solarium pool with a small eating area. Why not the 6 star ships of Seabourn? I just don’t get it. Anyway… onward with our decision to have room service again tonight. 

Being on deck 4 (the lowest passenger deck) has it’s advantages as it’s the same deck as the main dining room and the galley. Hence room service is really a snap for the two crew members that are assigned to room service station in the ships galley. One of them usually takes the order and then the other, usually Darryn from South Africa, as he’s on the all night shift, sets up the meal items and delivers it to our cabin. 

He was a big guy (both in height and breadth) and a real master at carrying the heavy tray with all our courses stacked 3-high through the narrow (and low) doorway. When we answered the door he would always greet us with his cheery South African voice and report that either we had a large or a small appetite gauged by how many levels of plates were stacked on the tray.

Tonight our Starters were: 
Soft potato gnocchi with asparagus and butter
Hazelnut crusted cheese, beet chips  greens and a hazelnut vinaigrette

Potato leek crepes with gruyere cheese and young vegetables and garlic confit
Roasted Lamb Loin and frites

White chocolate soufflé with cassis sauce
A Cheese plate which was forgotten after the first bite of the…
Pink Florida grapefruit tart with citrus vodka sauce!

At Sea

August 23, 2019


Today was a full day at sea in grey, rainy weather. Out in the open sea in stormy conditions crossing from Labrador province to L’anse aux meadows, Newfoundland. 

Anyone wondering what we did on our days at sea? Most of the time was spent in Seabourn Square on Deck 7. There were comfortable sofas, chairs and tables, library books, the Seabourn Cafe and quest services was located here also. Just a great place to hang. 

A clever Arizona couple observed our working on our devices at the beginning of the trip and quickly took advantage of the knowledge resource. It was good practice for our fall classes at the Technology Center. One of our students had told us about his favorite cruise line having people onboard to teach classes and we had originally floated the idea of approaching some upscale cruise lines to teach some of our classes but when we realized that we wouldn’t be able to control the skill levels in the classes we decided against it. It wouldn’t be fair to students that were more advanced to be slowed down by others in the class that were beginners or with older devices. 

The Galley lunch was super fun… once. At the entrance of the main dining room they had set up a buffet lunch cocktail bar with all kinds of versions of Bloody Marys and decadent boozy treats. How could one refuse a classy delicious Bloody Mary to accompany our lunch.

The galley off the main dining room was open for a buffet style lunch. Each work station had fabulous food offerings and you could go back as many times as you wished. As would be expected, the deserts were the piece de resistance, well worth pressing my way through the hoards to get a second helping.

Of course, Joe graciously offered to stay at the table and “save our place” 🙄. It was Seabourns equivalent to the Midnight Buffet extravaganza with a fun twist in addition to being thoughtful about not having to stay up until midnight to gorge ourselves. It was the 3rd time we’d eaten in the Main dining room as there were so many other dining venues that were offered that we preferred. Logistically, this was the only eating choice for lunch this day.

If lunch didn’t do us in…

Tonight was the French Menu in The Colonnade
Beurre Maitre d’hotel with baguette

Foie Gras Terrine – marinated scallion salad, French vinaigrette 
Escargots a la bourguignonne
French onion soup

Seared Fresh Atlantic Char: lyonnaise potatoes, vegetables fricassee, noilly prat sauce
Chateaubriand roast beef tenderloin: glazed vegetables and potatoes, bordelaise, shallot, Bernadine
Vegetarian:  Ricotta Ravioli- toasted pine nuts, golden brown butter, basil essence

Classic Creme brûlée

St. Anthony, Newfoundland

August 24, 2019


During lunch yesterday the captain advised us that due to the weather conditions we would be too exposed anchoring off L’Anse aux Meadows to tender in to the UNESCO World Heritage site and is also a National Historic Site operated by Parks Canada. Because of this, we would be continuing around and anchoring off of St. Anthony in a more sheltered bay and tendering in to the town of St. Anthony. 

It’s a 45 minute drive between St. Anthony & L’anse aux Meadows and the ship was offering shore excursions at both locations. The destination services staff handled this short noticed change in mooring location beautifully. Port information details and maps of St. Anthony were made available to passengers by yesterday afternoon. Guest Services had also miraculously arranged local school busses for 3 roundtrip transfers during the day holding 36 guests each to transport passengers between St. Anthony and L’anse aux Meadows at no charge. Now, bear in mind this is a tiny locale with no large tourist services such as tour buses and tour guides other than the ones the ship had already arranged for the few shore excursions the ship was already offering. 

We had originally planned on hiking around the UNESCO heritage site in L’anse aux Meadows on our own using All Trails to guide us to a couple of other trails along the coast that looked like they might be scenic. We quickly regrouped and with the help of the information that the ship provided and All Trails we planned to do a hike around 3 points around the lighthouse in St. Anthony and then climb a steep stairway (yes, another one) to the top of the mountain that overlooked the bay.

As had been forewarned weather conditions (read: super nasty, swells and big waves) we were unable to anchor off of L’Anse aux Meadow and tender ashore to visit the UNESCO site but instead anchored in a bay near St. Anthony. Forecast was for rain showers but the big challenge was going to be the wind— 25-35kms with gusts up to 57kms! 

We packed a picnic lunch compliments of Seabourn Square cafe (as had become our habit), stuffed our backpacks with as many layers of clothing and accessories and tendered ashore. We headed down Fishing Point Road towards the lighthouse. Our waterproof gear not only kept us dry but provided great wind protection. 

We wandered out to the points at the edge of the sea hoping to see whales or icebergs that have made their way across from Greenland. The sea was relatively calm for the amount of wind. We continued around Fishing Point Park stopping at the little viewpoints marked on the trail to our ultimate goal of the stairs up the mountainside. (Look closely at the photos with the TV tower and you will see the white stairway up the side of the hill.) 

DareDevil Trail had 476 steps (54 flights of stairs) with a climb to 550ft. The 476 steps were artfully zigzagged up the mountain. You’d climb a set and then there would be a little corner piece of wood to perch on and enjoy the view before continuing upward. This climb was much easier than Maniitsoq, Greenland… and about 20 degrees warner too! The showers and wind had let up for our climb enabling better photographs of the views and the nooks along the way.

The rain (sleet) start up again in earnest when we reached the top. (look closely on Joe’s pants and jacket and you’ll see streaks blowing) 

The trail was really well maintained and so picturesque in its layout. A 5 🌟 trail in our hiking experience. Along the way we filled our eyes with green and color in the landscape… something we missed over the past two weeks. The green in the landscapes seemed so much more vibrant. Another amazing things was we hardly saw anyone on the trail.

We returned to the ship exhausted and ready to soak in the hot tub. The wind was still strong and the seas were bumpy as we rounded the point as the sun set. 

Last at Sea Day on the Quest

August 25, 2019


Today would be our last day at sea on the Quest before disembarking in 5 days. So rest, relax, maybe a little packing of our super cold weather gear, and reading about our upcoming ports would be in order. 

Our new friends Ellen & George from Tucson, AZ invited us to Thomas Kellers Grill tonight. How could we refuse!

We started with Caesar’s salad prepared table side from scratch.

I couldn’t resist the rib eye for our last dinner at Thomas Keller.

Desert was ice cream sundaes with caramel beurre salé to die for! Oh boy, am I going to pay for all of this big time when we get home. They will have to fork lift me through my workout studio doors. But what a way to go!

Arctic Adventures continues with Part 5 – Quebec Province, Canada