Skip to navigation Skip to content
< Back to Saga Sapphire blog

14th October, 2015


There is probably no better way to get a quick ‘knowledge’ of Halifax than by taking the ‘Halifax Highlights by Harbour Duck’ tour. It was, we were told by our very amusing and verbal young lady commentator, an amphibious vehicle dating back from the Vietnam War. The transport was suitably driven by a young gentleman wearing four gold stripes (but with blue shorts!) who weaved this large bulk around the popular streets until he came to the water front. Then it was a ‘hang on’ until we were afloat (with a pronounced 5 degree list I noticed). The tour allowed us to see the centre of Halifax from both the water, as we passed along the old waterfront complete with maritime museum, and then through the main streets all way up as far as the citadel.

Other tours included a drive around the city on an old London Routemaster bus, of which I noticed several and all painted in a rather shocking pink. A ‘Halifax and the Titanic Connection’ took in Fairview Lawn cemetery where many victims of that very unfortunate disaster were laid to rest and the morgue which received the body of John Jacob Aster, the American businessman and millionaire. Some folks took the excursion to Peggys Cove, a tiny unspoilt fishing village which, apparently, has the most photographed lighthouse in the ‘whole world’. (I’m not sure how they worked that out).

My first morning included a plaque exchange while several of my colleagues were involved with the mandatory Canadian Port Health inspection. I am extremely pleased to say we passed with flying colours. A fantastic effort by the many officers and crew who work so diligently to ensure we always maintain the very highest of hygiene standards.

We remained alongside overnight and didn’t depart until midday, before which I took the opportunity of taking a brisk walk into town. The city is an interesting mix of traditional wooden and granite houses, along with many new buildings which are starting to dominate the old. There was a terrible explosion in 1917 when an ammunition ship blew up in the harbour causing great devastation and injury, nowadays the buildings that survived are marked by a small blue plaque and are on the preserved building list.

I went into one building that did survive, St. Paul’s Anglican Church, which had its first service in September 1750. Inside I met a very charming gentleman who asked where I came from. I explained what I was doing in town and also the fact that my first visit was in December 1972 when, as a cadet, I had the dubious pleasure of spending the New Year in the dry dock. He was most impressed and asked me to put a note into the visitor’s book.

Yet again we were incredibly lucky with the weather, warm and sunny throughout. Just one more stop before we begin that eastwards voyage.

Captain Philip Rentell

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.