2015 Aug 26 & 27 – Days 33 & 34 – At Sea and Halifax, NS

We had nice weather on our sea day between St. John’s, NL and Halifax, NS.  The water was a lovely shade of blue/green – very like the colour we saw embedded in the icebergs.  And, surprise, surprise, we actually did a couple of things.

At 10 am there was a presentation about the crew’s lives on board – their contracts (usually 8-10 months), training (HAL maintains training universities at Manilla in the Philippines and Jakarta in Indonesia), cabins (2 people per), entertainment (games, parties, movies, DVD, excursions), religious services (provided for Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, Hindu and Jewish if any), food (their own chefs that cook the favorite foods of both nationalities), plus information about entertainers contracts, officers mess and cabins and much more.  It was very interesting.

At 11 am we attended the Mariner’s Reception and received our Silver Medallions representing 300 days sailed with Holland America Line.  Bronze is 100 days.  We received that on our very first cruise on a HAL ship in 2009 when we went around the world in 128 days.  Gold Medallion is for 500 days and there were about 50 people on the ship who have that level. They awarded five more at the reception.  The biggie though is Platinum for 700 days or more.  There were 8 people in the room that already have their platinum medallions – they brought them with them and wore them. Not something I would do, but whatever.  Three people were  awarded platinum; one fellow has sailed over 900 days on HAL ships.  I wish it was me.  I don’t think that will happen anytime soon though.  The total accumulated HAL sailing days of all the people in the room was over 85,000!  That is a lot of loyal cruisers.

IMG_1914After the reception with the free champagne we walked to the other end of the ship and had the Mariner’s Lunch with more free champagne – always a good thing.  Holland has a lot of people who cruise with them over and over – due in a large part to the varied itineraries and the smaller ships – and this ship has over 500 four and five star Mariner’s aboard.  All people who have taken a Holland cruise before get invited to a Mariner’s luncheon. They space them out throughout the cruise so some people had their lunch quite early on.  Stars are the reward program represented by the number of days you cruise on HAL ships PLUS extra ‘days’ earned via onboard spending – shore excursions, shopping, photos, drinks, etc.  Not gambling though.  At four star you get discounts in the shops, at the specialty restaurants, priority boarding and priority tenders, and free laundry services.  The highest is five stars and that constitues 1000 sea and shopping credit days.

With such a jam-packed morning we had to take the afternoon off and read and rest in our cabin.   I worked a bit though and published my St. John’s blog.

Today we arrived in Halifax under cloudy skies with rain predicted – which we got in buckets off and on throughout the day.  As in St. John’s we had spent several days in Halifax last year on our cross-Canada drive so we didn’t need to go sightseeing.  Instead we walked down the pier a short distance and went to the Immigration Museum at Pier 21.

IMG_1837 IMG_1843Last summer when we went to view the exhibits in the immigration museum we were asked if anyone in our families had immigrated to Canada and if so the staff in the archive room would be happy to look up the ships, dates, ports of entry, etc.  I was very excited that they found my grandmother along with my mother and her three sister’s entry into Canada in 1930.  We could not pin down the information for my grandfather when he came about a year earlier because there were 6 William Young’s listed.

Since our visit last year I had received some extra information from my cousin in Scotland that I hoped would enable the Archive staff to find what ship my grandfather arrived on and when.  They did and  we discovered something new in the process.  My grandfather had come to Canada once before – from 1910-1915 and he lived and worked in Vancouver.  He returned to Scotland for WWI military service then came back in 1930 eight and a half months before his wife and the four girls.  I have never heard about that earlier time in Canada.

We were also able to get copies of the ship’s manifests from my mother and her sister’s return to Scotland in 1937 after their parents had died.  And of my mother’s solo return to Canada in 1939 when she was nine.  (Her sisters were all older and working in Scotland and mom returned to live with the couple that had fostered her after the deaths of her parents).

And not to forget John’s family we found the manifests for the arrival from England of his maternal grandfather and later his grandmother and her three children (John’s mother was 4 at the time).

The final icing on the family history cake was getting a print of the recruitment acceptance paper for my mother’s foster father Alvin G. Isaac (who I knew as my Grandpa)  when he joined the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force in 1917!  What a great day!

After we finished getting about five pounds of paper to add to my luggage we located a few geo-caches, found a great pub to have lunch, and wended our way back to the ship in time for sail-away at 4 pm.

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The back of Government HouseIMG_1854 IMG_1857 IMG_1859 IMG_1858 IMG_1867 IMG_1869 IMG_1871 IMG_1881 IMG_1880 IMG_1876

Our ship’s reflection in an officd building window near the port terminal.



When we arrived in Halifax the ship was greeted at the pier by a piper and a drummer and a different piper and drummer played for us as we cast off the lines and sailed away towards our final port of call Bar Harbor, Maine. Despite the intermittent rainfall we had a good time in Halifax.

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We only have one more port so at dinner we exchanged emails and addresses with our table mates. We had an hilarious time every evening.  Nice folks, good times.

IMG_1909 Bob and Barbara from The Villages in Florida. They also had the cabin next door.IMG_1906


Jim and Lynn from Victoria.  Fellow BC people.IMG_1905





Shiela and Lois from the Seattle area.  Travelling companions.  Lois is widowed and Shiela left her husband at home just days before their wedding anniversary and also over her birthday.  Lovely ladies.  Such fun.IMG_1911


And little ole’ us.

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