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Hurtigruten Pole to Pole - Week seven

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

Week seven on our 13-week bucket list Pole to Pole cruise on the MS Roald Amundsen with Hurtigruten Expeditions, as we explore the East Coast jewels of Maine and arrive in Boston.

Day 43 - Eastport, Maine, US

As we crossed from Canada to the US this morning and were greeted with some tumultuous waters, the weather gods are on strike, a dramatic change from the day before.

Eastport has the deepest port on the East Coast, and this region is notorious for its high tides and powerful currents.

We don't let the weather get us down and are up bright and early to be cleared by US border control, who joined us on the ship this morning for a face-to-face and to stamp our entry.

Early afternoon, the weather was still challenging, blowing a gale with sideways rain; therefore, the expedition team cancelled the lobster boat trips; our fellow passengers would have sighed with relief, as the boats were not weather protected, and the waters were not inviting.

We dressed for the wet weather; our Canada Goose jackets were ideal for protecting us from the wind and rain, and we set out on foot to explore.

Fortunately, Eastport is only a little village with 1400 locals, so we swept up the Main Street, took in a few sites and were then drawn into Phoenix Fine Wines, a wine bar, not only by the name but the live Celtic band playing music invited us in.

We are warmly welcomed by the energetic and friendly owner, Laura, and the Celtic trio; we are in the right place.

We quickly settle in the cosy chairs near the band and floor-to-ceiling windows with a glass of red and enjoy the backdrop of the ever-changing tides of Passamaquoddy Bay; you can quickly while away in the afternoon.

We also ordered the cheese platter; all food products are sourced from local producers, including the cheese from the local goats, cows, and sheep. They have a selection of wines by the bottle, glass and small bites. We love supporting local businesses and are thrilled when they do.

Opened this July, the wine bar is like stepping back in time. The Irish folk music transports you back 100 years whilst relaxing in the beautiful wooded surroundings and antique furniture; think of an old mansion library surrounded by books to peruse.

The building was built in 1887 after the great fire 1886 decimated downtown Eastport. The buildings were home to various businesses over the last Century but were neglected in the 2nd Century and fell into disrepair. They have since been reborn as a brewery and wine bar for all to enjoy.

Huge glass pane windows with an everlasting view across the waters, music, atmosphere, comfort and smiles from the lovely owner, accompanied by great food and wine all wrapped up in one. She has the formula just right.

The locals were all very welcoming and loved hearing about our cruise and travels. We were grateful to have spent the afternoon in a beautiful wine bar to escape the rain and build memories of our visit to Eastport.

We were joined by our ship friends Daniel and Sylvia, and then we bid our farewells and escaped back to the safety and warmth of our ship.

Eastport would be a lovely little village to explore more when the weather is on our side.

Day 44 - Bar Harbor, Maine, US

Bar Harbor is a hidden jewel on the coast of Maine. It is home to 5,500, is the gateway to Acadia National Park, and is world-renowned for the famous Maine Lobster.

A very picturesque town with a stunning coastline, it was well designed and perfectly laid out, a perfect village. The lifestyle was inviting and calming, spoilt with trendy eateries, art galleries, beautiful boutiques, and limitless accommodation options; all the inns were out of a picture book!

Think stately and mansion homes. It was also refreshing to see a couple of locally made gift/souvenir shops; it's much nicer to support locals and see 'Made in Maine'' instead of 'Made in China'.

The private homes were easily confused with the inns. The imposing stately homes had beautiful lush green manicured lawns with expansive backyards to the crystal clear waters and could easily host a family of 20.

We left no stone unturned as we lost ourselves in the pristine streets of the village. At every opportunity, we would have also loved to take the Arcadia National Park (the most visited park in the US), which borders Bar Harbor. Still, we opted to be independent travellers and enjoyed the peacefulness of the village.

I am sure we missed out on some magnificent scenery and photo ops, but we have learned as we travel that you can't see everything and have no regrets; maybe one day we will return, and a gift will still be waiting for us.

The shore path was a stunning walk along the shoreline, taking in the private mansions and views they called the museum of the streets.

During low tide, you can walk across to Bar Island, although you need to be careful to avoid being left there for the night. The wave was still in when we arrived, but it was a fabulous photo opportunity.

Take your time to explore the hidden streets and be surprised by the hidden dining scene off the beaten path, with more locals and fewer tourists.

After we had uncovered most of the pristine streets of Bar Harbour, we settled in for the afternoon at a local pub, enjoying a cheeky cocktail and lunch! Fish and chips were delicious, and you can't visit the States and not try the Mac and cheese, which also received a big thumbs up! Our lovely waitress was full of positive energy and good, honest service; she deserved her tip, not that she asked or expected one.

We left for the ship with a bounce in our step. Okay, there was more than one cocktail, and the barman was very generous with the measures.

We opted to enjoy a lazy evening and skipped dinner after breakfast and lunch today.

We do try to limit ourselves to just two meals a day.

Day 45 - Rockland, Maine

It has been a moody week of weather; we have glorious sunshine every second day and the perfect fall day, followed by the skies wanting to ensure we have had our morning shower. But as we say, we don't let the weather get us down or in our way; it is all about our journey, and we are all waterproof.

This morning, we arrived in Rockland, a classic Maine coastal town with a population of 7,000. It is also one of the world's biggest shipping centres for lobster.

Rockland, located right in the heart of the mid-coast area, is famous for its natural coastal beauty and magnificent rocky shoreline; it is also home to the Rockland Breakwater lighthouse, where you can take a walk out over the breakwater and visit.

We were up at 7 am so we could make the first tender and enjoy a coffee (USD 18 for 2), and the few hours of the day before, the skies were going to pour down heavily; fortunately, it wasn't cold, about 16 degrees, it was just one of those grim and wet looking days.

We enjoyed a few hour's walks about town before we admitted defeat and popped into a cafe for a coffee and a little treat.

We noticed a dramatic change in architecture and the homes from beautiful Bar Harbour, only 100 km up the coast. Rockland Centre was missing the richness of the character that other nearby towns were blessed with, or maybe we just took a right instead of a left.

Before the storm, we returned to the ship of our dry and cosy surroundings. An afternoon of rest and then gifted with a magical sky before dinner. It felt like the sky was on fire on one side of the ship and a double iridescent rainbow on the other.

It was a lovely gift from Mother Nature to let us know there was a reason for the wet and stormy day.

Our plans were changed this evening due to Hurricane Fiona heading our way. Fiona is following the same path in reverse. We just sailed from Greenland.

Captain Terje is keeping us all safe and decided to skip Provincetown and have us arrive in Boston while the port was still open, a day early to be docked and wait for Fiona to pass.

We are excited we get more time in Boston to explore!

Day 46 - At Sea, Boston Pier, Massachusetts

This morning, we woke up to a very similar weather pattern; the sun was blessing us with its presence again.

The morning was spent cruising to Boston; we enjoyed a coffee and shared travel stories with John. John and Sandy love travel, writing articles and sharing new bucket list trips and destinations with us.

We followed with lunch and enjoyed being surrounded by the activity of Boston as we docked safely into the harbour; it seemed we were not the only ones; three other ships had sought shelter.

Unfortunately, our ship didn't receive clearance due to our last-minute arrival, so we all remained on the boat for the evening alongside the other ships docked.

Fortunately, the sun was still shining, and we could soak up some rays and say our farewells to our fellow passengers who have been with us since Vancouver and thank Laszlo, our Hotel Director, for all his efforts and for making everyone feel so welcome. We will miss all the friendly faces and chats with everyone around the ship.

We enjoyed a farewell dinner with our lovely friends from the UK, the polar molars, and our favourite travelling dentists. We followed this with a quick drink with our fellow pole-to-polers and enjoyed some tunes from the resident crew band.

Day 47 - Boston, Massachusetts

First time in Boston, we were up and hitting the pavement early; we only had until 4 pm, so we wanted to make the most of it.

We walked the half hour from the pier into downtown; the weather was kind today, and she decided to break her pattern and keep the sun around.

We had a list of shopping items, but after getting a coffee to go and a new sim for the internet, thank you, AT&T, they were incredible, we decided just to get lost in a new city.

It was bustling with tourists, and being the weekend, the locals were out enjoying the first weekend of fall; it was buzzing.

After a few hours of strolling, we decided to do what we do best and how we get a taste of our new destinations: a lazy lunch! Thanks to Mickey for his Boston tip, a friend from the US we met in Ohrid last year, we headed to Little Italy in the North End.

We settled on a gorgeous little family-owned Italian restaurant, 'Nando'; the owners even played in the streets as they grew up and continued their family's legacy.

Our lovely waitress, Ortensa, was from Durres in Albania, so we loved reminiscing about our trip from 2020; she was so excited to meet us, too, as few are familiar with her hometown; when she was 18, she won the green card lottery and has been in Boston for last few years.

After the most delicious Italian, it was time to return to the ship; we made it on time.

Upon arriving back, it is just the 20 of the Pole to Pole passengers and the crew, so we feel like we have the ship to ourselves; it's pretty surreal.

The sunset was upon us, so we enjoyed the sail away with Boston as a background and the pockets of scenery. Boston has a great vibe and friendly and genuine people.

The expedition team scheduled a quick catch-up with the 20 of us to update us on the new hurricane for Tampa. At the same time, we hope to be in Miami, so the Captain is trying to cover as much ground as possible in the next five days. Hence, we arrive on time and safely before our next segment commences, and a new batch of passengers join us.

It was an exhilarating end to the evening as we sailed through Cape Cod Canal in the dark at about 10.30 pm.

Fortunately, We checked the ship's location on the Marine Traffic app and raced up to Deck 11 - Forward to ensure we didn't miss out and capture some great videos.

It felt like a river cruise for 20 minutes, and it was thrilling to go under the low bridges and listen to all the locals fishing by the waterside in the middle of the night.

Close your eyes 🥺👀😮‍💨

Cruising down a narrow river and just scraping through under the bridges. Our Captain, of course, knew we would make it all along! The first video goes under Bourne Bridge, and the second is Cape Cod Canal Railway Bridge.

We realised afterward that the expedition team did update us all this afternoon; unfortunately, we were two minutes late and missed the first two slides. We must do a refresher on our German, and we would have caught this in the second session. Sailing through the Cape Cod Canal was one of the highlights of the cruise to date.

Day 48 - At Sea, North Atlantic Ocean

It feels like we are on our very own super (super) yacht, with the 20 of us Pole to Polers scattered around the ship, sharing it with the beautiful Hurtigruten crew. We stumble across each other during meal times.

This morning, we enjoyed breakfast; we were up early, hoping to catch a glimpse of New York, but we headed deeper into the ocean as we approached Long Island.

We spent the morning catching up online; we had the Explorer Lounge to ourselves. It was incredibly peaceful, and, of course, feeling a little spoilt by all the space.

After lunch, we caught a few rays; it's time to start working on our ghostly white legs as we transition from winter to summer and continue south.

The bridge was open this afternoon for a few hours; we wandered down to say hello, thank the team for keeping us safe, and enjoy the state-of-the-art equipment and views.

We were also briefed on the upcoming few days and how we will approach and navigate the hurricane to remain safe and hopefully have no disruptions to our next embarkation day in Miami on Thursday.

We also spotted a few of the new plaques presented to the Roald Amundsen for the maiden calls into some of our recent ports. It was also the ship's first visit to Halifax and Boston.

The weather is the boss right now; the latest hurricane/tropical storm is forecast to meet us the same day in Miami, but as we creep closer, we will be near enough to work with it and hopefully have an open window once it has safely passed Miami.

Judit, our lovely new hotel director, also offered to tour the ship's suites; seeing how the other half lived was excellent. The suites are very spacious and beautiful. We are thrilled with our cabin (Expedition suite - with balcony), especially in midship on those rocky days, such as today, deep in the North Atlantic. It was also great to come across a suite named in honour of Leopold McClintock, our dear friend Bill's cousin; we shared the good news with Bill.

This evening, we were all treated to a Filipino buffet in Lindstrom. It was great to experience new cuisine, and although we have visited the Philippines many times, we realised we had never really explored the food.

We love how Hurtigruten's crew are all Filipino; not only do they all have exceptional customer service and are a delight to be around, but after committing so much of their time to work, everyone needs to connect outside of work. It provides a sense of home, and as a bonus, the chefs can cook up a storm of their local delights when they feel a little homesick.

A special thank you to our dear Rosalie for spoiling us this evening at dinner, bringing us samples of the delicious food so we could stay grounded (and we have no self-control so that we might have overindulged) as we were feeling a little fragile with the rocky movement of the ship. You are the best!

We went to bed early this evening as the ship was in a rock'n'roll mood, and we found we are best dealing with this horizontally in the heavenly beds in the suites.

Day 49 - At Sea, North Atlantic Ocean

As we continue making our way to Miami, we are making good time and should be there ahead of schedule to wait out 'Hurricane Ian' in the nearby waters so we are prepared to dock on Thursday morning for the next embarkation day.

We took advantage of another day at sea to catch up on work, prepare our week seven travel blog, and sample the delicious cookies the crew have as treats in the Explorer Lounge.

We took the opportunity to spend more time with Judit to talk about sustainability, as this is core to Hurtigruten Expeditions' values, and they take sustainability seriously. Judit is our lovely new Hotel Director. Don't worry, Laszlo, we still miss you!

The MS Roald Amundsen (RA) is a cutting-edge ship design with advanced battery technology; it is the world's first hybrid-powered expedition ship. As a company, Hurtigruten holds a strong stance on heavy fuel oil and the war on plastics. Beach clean-ups and plant-based menus made from locally sourced ingredients are another two ways they give back to the areas we visit and the planet.

The world's first Hybrid Powered ship, what does that tangibly mean? Those who have cruised before know that each morning, the cabins at the rear are covered in a fine (or heavy) layer of soot from the diesel engines, depending on the ship's age.

Not with Hurtigruten, as they run a Hybrid technology; emissions are cut by sailing with electrical propulsion. Innovative sustainable technology reduces the ship's fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 20 per cent.

We love there are no plastic bottles; all guests on an expedition cruise receive a complimentary high-quality reusable bottle for use at water refill stations around the ship. This simple act saves at least 1,000 plastic bottles a day.

The portion sizes during meals are significant to Hurtigruten, as the right amount of food on passengers' plates minimises wastage; there have been comments regarding the meals are often too small, but of course, the team is very flexible for those who wish to fill their bellies more, you just need to ask. It is better to serve less and waste less than to oversize and destroy more. They are earnest about food management waste programs on all the ships, aiming to reduce food waste by at least 30%.

Hurtigruten is committed to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals; these 17 goals are the blueprint for achieving a better and more sustainable future for all. They are also a guiding principle for B1G1 (the global giving movement), which we support by giving back to those who need a helping hand. We love that we have chosen a company aligned with our business and personal values.

It was great to learn more about Hurtigruten's sustainability programs, how they source their food locally, and how the destinations they get their provisions from love working with the RA, the world's first hybrid-powered expedition ship. Not only does the company Hurtigruten, but its passengers also have the same mindset, so they can create valuable relationships with providers with the same values and continue to make the world a better place.

In the evening, we were back in Lindstrom for dinner; Cesar put on the pre-dinner solo entertainment.

Dinner this evening was a buffet with prime rib beef and vegetables; we were all excited about the baked potatoes, which were a treat.

Dinner was followed by a beautiful skyline of sunset and clouds, and smooth seas were upon us this evening. We checked our new weather app, (we are slightly becoming addicted to this app), for the weather forecast as we near Miami.

Join us for 'week eight', where hopefully we have navigated safely away from Hurricane Fiona and Hurricane Ian to arrive in Miami and Belize safely for a new and exciting adventure towards the Panama Canal.

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