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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.