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3rd October, 2017


After a 65 mile passage up the St Lawrence River from Trois Rivieres we started to make our approach to Montreal. We had a minimum 1.5 knots of outgoing current against us at all times and at times we had up to 6 knots. The two river pilots were excellent and gave us great comfort with such strong currents running!! Although French was their first language it amazed me how quickly they switched to English when asked a question.

Our first view of Montreal was the tower at the Olympic Park which was built for the 1976 games, the only summer games to have been held in Canada. One of our tours included a funicular ride to the top of the tower. We then caught a glimpse of Mount Royal, the triple peaked hill in the heart of everything from which the name of the city was derived. As we made our approach to the inner harbour the current reached 6 knots and the ship was drifting sideways towards the clock tower which a P&O ship had hit in the 70’s in thick fog!! With some skilful piloting and full manoeuvring speed we glided past at a safe distance and then shortly afterwards put the brakes on before we swung and backed down to the berth. We were all fast by 2030 and then made final preparations for a Saga “Magical Moment”. Shortly after 9.00 pm I gave the 1 minute signal to start the firework display. WOW –what a fantastic 7 minutes it was, with a feeling that you could almost reach out and touch them. All Guests were on deck for a “party”and the fireworks certainly set things off with a huge bang!! Our Guests had a wonderful night and so many commented that it was the best fireworks display they had ever seen. “Better”than Madeira on a New Year’s Eve was mentioned numerous times. What helped to make it so impressive was our close proximity to the “launch pad”WELL DONE SAGA CRUISES. With the fireworks over the night had just begun for many as they danced under the stars and with the Montreal skyline in the background. There was no rush to get to bed as were in port until 10.30 the following evening.

Montreal is the world’s largest inland port and the 2nd largest in Canada. Founded by the French in 1642, it was not until the mid-18th century that the British controversially entered the city. However, today Montreal remains one of the world’s largest French speaking cities with a population over 3 million, while the British influence is evident in much of the old town’s architecture. Montreal is a very cosmopolitan city renowned for its charming and relaxed atmosphere with numerous museums, galleries and theatres.

Many of us were very busy during the 2nd day as we had a full 8 hour Canadian Public Health Inspection –I’m glad to say that despite the ship being 36 years old we passed with flying colours. I literally had 45 minutes to jump on my bike and wizz round the main part of the city to get a “feel”for this great place. However I soon realised I had better return on board as I had no lights on my bike!! After a quick shower, shave and change I headed off to sample some French Canadian cuisine –all I can say is tres bien!!

With everyone on board at 2230 we slipped our moorings and left the Montreal skyline in our wake. We then had a 350 mile run to Baie Commeau with the whole of the daylight hours spent cruising the St Lawrence River passing Quebec City around 1030.

Captain Julian Burgess

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.