The five-star all-inclusive (in 2012) Crystal Symphony in a night shot at Montreal
Crystal Cruises has decided to pick up on a formula that has not been used now for twenty years, a 7-night round trip cruise from Montreal on Crystal Symphony on September 30, 2012. By this time she will be all-inclusive for the first time, with wines, bar drinks and on board beverages, as well as gratuities, included in the fare.
Canada New England cruises date to 1894, when the Quebec Steamship Company, with Thomas Cook as its agent, offered the first such cruise in its Orinoco. Typically, these have started in either New York or Boston and ended in Montreal or Quebec, or vice versa. But another type of cruise that was also offered for many decades was the round trip cruise from Montreal, something that was first offered by the Quebec Steamship Company even before Canada New England cruises, and is now being revived by Crystal Cruises.
Quebec’s magnificent Fairmont Chateau Frontenac
Indicative of the gradual progress being made by new cruise ports in the Gulf of St Lawrence, three of the four ports of call, Sept Iles, the Magdalen Islands and the French Atlantic islands of St Pierre et Miquelon, will be first time calls for Crystal. The fourth, Quebec, has recently been voted the most popular cruise port in North America.
Sept Îles is a new and upcoming port, having only opened a cruise terminal in 2010 after Holland America’s Maasdam became the first modern age cruise ship to call there on May 19, 2009. Cruises had once before been operated to Sept Iles, but not since the North Shore highway was extended from Baie Comeau and the last coastal passenger ship cleared for Montreal at the end of 1961.
The new wharf extension at Sept Iles allows cruise passengers to take a new train to visit a native Innu summer camp on the Moisie River. This river is famed for its salmon and has been fished by prime ministers. The Innu themselves are descended from the Montagnais tribes that used to spend their winters in the bush trapping and come down the rivers in their canoes to trade with the Hudson’s Bay Company and others on the St Lawrence in the summer.
Cruising to the North Shore and Labrador was most popular with the Clarke Steamship Co, founded in 1921 by what up until then had been a family involved in publishing and pulp and paper. Below is a typical scene from 1935, with Clarke’s North Voyageur, the first of three ships to carry that name, berthed at Clarke City wharf at Pointe Noire, now part of the Port of Sept Iles.
Meeting the ship is the Gulf Pulp & Paper Company’s locomotive number 20, a unit that had been built for the Intercolonial Railway in 1900 and acquired by Gulf Pulp & Paper in 1924. Behind her are a combination passenger and freight car and a number of flat cars. The bell-mouthed smokestack was to prevent sparks from starting forest fires along the nine-mile railway line that linked the wharf with the pulp mill town of Clarke City.
Cruises on the North Voyageur, which had berths for 62 overnight passengers, ran 12 nights round trip from Montreal and started at $100. Ports of call included Quebec, Godbout, Clarke City, Havre St Pierre, Natashquan and Corner Brook, Newfoundland, returning via Natashquan, Sept Iles and Franquelin. Today, ships as large as the Queen Mary 2 call at Corner Brook, which has also seen a revival in cruising.
In 2013, Crystal Symphony will repeat her 7-night Montreal round trip itinerary on September 26 and will add yet another new port, Havre St Pierre, where she will make calls on two other cruises.
Slowly, it seems, cruising the Gulf of St Lawrence is making some progress. Some people have even tried to describe these Gulf and Labrador cruises as a new Alaska.
Here is a summary of all five of Crystal Symphony’s autumn 2012 cruises to and from Montreal.
New York to Montréal, September 19 – 30, 2012 (13 nights). Calls: New York, Newport, Boston, Bar Harbor, Saint John, Halifax, Québec City, and Montreal. From £3,439. (*)
Round-trip Montréal, September 30 – October 7, 2012 (9 nights). Calls: Montreal, Sept-Iles, Magdalen Islands, St-Pierre et Miquelon, Québec City. From £2,623. (*)
Montréal to Boston, October 7 – 14, 2012 (9 nights). Calls: Montreal, Québec City, Halifax, Bar Harbor and Boston. From £2,478 (*).
Boston to Montréal, October 14 – 21, 2012 (9 nights). Calls : Boston, Bar Harbor, Halifax, Québec City and Montreal. From £2,307. (*)
Montréal to New York, October 21 – 31, 2012 (12 nights). Calls: Montreal, Québec City, Halifax, Bar Harbor, Boston, Newport and New York. From £2,807. (*)
(*) All fares are per person in double occupancy and include return economy flights and port taxes. Hotels & transfers are additional. Number of nights given for each cruise applies to fly/cruise package from the UK..
For further details on any Crystal cruise, please call Gay Scruton at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org