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Montreal

Saga Sapphire blog - Captains' blogs

7th October, 2018

After a 130 mile passage up the St Lawrence River from Quebec 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 one stage it reached 6 knots. The two river pilots, one of whom was a lady, 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 skillful piloting and full maneuvering 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 0800 and ready to allow guests ashore by 0815. It was yet another overnight call with departure set for 1630 the following day.

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.

There were plenty of Shore Excursions on offer with ½ day, full day and an evening tour “Montreal by Night”. There were tours out to the “Glorious Laurentian Mountains”, “Ottawa Sightseeing” and of course the normal “City Highlights” tour. I took the opportunity to go for a walk today around the old city and then out to the canals, as from Montreal you can take passage to the Great lakes of course. I did also take the opportunity to sample some French Canadian cuisine – all I can say is tres bon!!

Once again I had that strange feeling of waking up in the same place and the ship not on the move. With a 2nd full day in port we had we had 4 more shore excursions on offer “Montreal & the Richelieu Valley”, “Discover Montreal”, “Hiking Mont-Royal” and “Highlights of Montreal”.

With everyone on board at 1630 we slipped our moorings and left the Montreal skyline in our wake. We then had a 260 mile run out to the pilot station at Escoumins, near the entrance to the St Lawrence River, with the river pilots changing at both Trois Rivieres and Quebec City.

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.

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