Discovering Le Grand Nord: Eastern Canada and Boston 2018

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28 Aug – 17 Sep 2018

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Discovering Le Grand Nord: Eastern Canada and Boston 2018
Tour Highlights

21-day Cultural Tour of Eastern Canada and Boston
featuring a 7-day Holland America Cruise

Tour Highlights

  • Join bibliophile and historian Shane Carmody and tour Eastern Canada in the Fall to enjoy the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Québec, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and the US states of Maine and Massachusetts.
  • Spend seven days cruising from Montréal to Boston on the Holland America Line ship, MS Veendam. Visit the historic ports of Sydney, Charlottetown and Halifax and the magnificent coastal scenery of the St Lawrence River, Prince Edward and Cape Breton Islands, and Acadia National Park.
  • While based in Toronto, Canada’s modern commercial centre, visit Niagara Falls, the Aga Khan Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario and taste the famous Canadian ice wine at Inniskillin Winery.
  • In Ottawa, the nation’s showcase capital, visit splendid monuments and public buildings, including Parliament Hill and the National Gallery of Canada; cruise along the historic Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage site; and enjoy high tea at the Fairmont Château Laurier.
  • Discover cosmopolitan Montréal, a metropolis with a distinctive French feel, visiting the Musée de Archeologie et d’Histoire de Montréal and the magnificent Basilique Notre-Dame.
  • In UNESCO-listed Québec City, a bastion of a rich and vibrant French-Canadian culture, local historian David Mendel introduces his city with a walking tour of the old town and hosts a special lunch at the exclusive Garrison Club.
  • Explore the captivating military history of Eastern Canada with visits to the Fortress of Louisbourg and to La Citadelle in Québec City; take a seat in a replica Titanic deck chair while learning about the rich maritime heritage of Nova Scotia at Halifax’s Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.
  • Immerse yourself in Canada’s history, with visits to the Canadian Museum of History in Ottawa, and the the Musée de La Civilisation in Québec. In Toronto, learn about the history, art and culture of the First Nations, the indigenous peoples of Canada, at the Royal Ontario Museum.
  • In Boston, explore some of the USA’s great institutions and art museums: Harvard University (including the Glass Flowers Collection at the Natural History Museum), the Boston Public Library, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.


Travelling on this tour was a great experience. The program was extremely interesting and well constructed. We also had the benefit of being joined by inspiring guest lecturers. We learnt a great deal and gained an understanding of Canada’s history and culture. A marvellous experience!  Haydn, ACT.

This tour offered a diverse range of content. Our group was like a family enjoying a new adventure every day. Canada has wonderful scenery, sensational buildings and marvellous art galleries and museums. To top it off we cruised the St Lawrence Seaway and around the coast, stopping at Prince Edward Island and more, to conclude in Boston.  Deidre, VIC.

21-day Cultural Tour of Eastern Canada and Boston

Overnight Toronto (4 nights) • Ottawa (3 nights) • Québec City (2 nights) • Montréal (2 nights) • Holland America Cruise of Canada & New England (7 nights) • Boston (2 nights)



The days have been carefully programmed, however there will be opportunities for tour participants to break from the group to explore their own interests if they so desire. On some days the program is scheduled to finish mid/late afternoon which allows free time for individual exploration. The daily activities described in this itinerary may be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate changes in museum opening hours, flight and/or cruise schedules etc. Participants will receive a finalised itinerary with their tour documents. The tour includes buffet breakfast daily, lunches & evening meals indicated in the itinerary where B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=evening meal.

Toronto - 4 nights

Day 1: Tuesday 28 August, Arrival Toronto
  • Bata Shoe Museum (optional visit)
  • Welcome Meeting & Drinks

We commence in Canada’s largest and most dynamic city, Toronto.

Those arriving early in the day may wish to join an optional visit to the Bata Shoe Museum (transport and entrance fee at own expense). The unique and very engaging Bata Shoe Museum is a five-storey building designed by the distinguished architect Raymond Moriyama. The building, which resembles a giant shoe box, houses a collection of over 10,000 items that reveal the intriguing 4500-year development of footwear, including shoemaking. The diversity of the collection is extraordinary. It ranges from footwear that is over 3500 years old to modern examples worn by world figures like Mahatma Gandhi.

In the early evening we meet for a Welcome Meeting and Welcome Drinks. (Overnight Toronto)

Day 2: Wednesday 29 August, Toronto
  • Toronto Coach Tour
  • Art Gallery of Ontario
  • Welcome Dinner

We start our day with an orientation coach tour around the Downtown and inner-city area of Toronto, passing the city’s main monuments. Located on the banks of Lake Ontario, Toronto is recognised as the country’s leading financial and commercial centre. However, it is also renowned for being a cosmopolitan, vibrant, multicultural city offering an exciting range of cultural encounters. Originally an indigenous settlement, the area attracted French hunters and traders from around 1615. Eventually, in 1720, the area became a base for French fur trading activity. It then became a strategic theatre of British and French rivalry in North America. The British took firm control of the region after 1759, acquiring land from the native people. In 1791, the British Lieutenant Governor, Colonel John Graves Sicmoe, selected the site of Toronto because it had a fine harbour and was a safe distance from the American border. First called York, it was renamed Toronto in the mid-1830s, and even became embroiled in the war of 1812 between USA and Britain. The citizens of Toronto enthusiastically supported the movement for the creation of the Dominion of Canada.

In the afternoon we visit the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) where there will be a tour of the collection’s highlights, then time to  explore the collection independently in greater detail. The AGO has a fine collection of works by European masters including Rembrandt, Renoir, Monet, Matisse, Chagall and Degas, to mention but a few of the artists represented. The Henry Moore Sculpture Centre is internationally recognised as having one of the world’s largest collections of works by the artist. The AGO complex incorporates a historic mansion, The Grange, which has been restored to its former glory and features interior furnishings of the day. It is also worth noting that on our journey through Canada we will encounter the famous Group of 7 artists (formed in 1920). This group of artists revolutionised local art with their inspiring, impressionistic, nationalistic and colourful depictions of the Canadian landscape. There are some fine examples of the Group of 7 at the AGO. Following our visit, we will enjoy a few hours at leisure. You may elect to stay at the AGO, return to the hotel with your leader, visit Eaton Place or simply wend your way back to the hotel admiring the streetscape on the way.

We meet up again tonight for our Welcome Dinner. (Overnight Toronto) BD

Day 3: Thursday 30 August, Toronto
  • Royal Ontario Museum
  • Aga Khan Museum

Today’s program features two extraordinary museums. We begin with a visit to the huge Royal Museum of Ontario (ROM). The ROM has an extraordinary collection of six million objects and is highly regarded for the excellence of its research and exhibitions. Following a comprehensive ROM highlights tour, we will have leisure time to explore aspects of the collection of particular interest. ROM’s holdings include a huge collection of Canadian material, a wonderful dinosaur gallery, a comprehensive, high quality Asian arts display and a fine series of Classical collections. There is also a noteworthy display of Egyptian material, including a large collection of mummies.

We then visit the famous Aga Khan Museum in Toronto’s North York district. The museum is dedicated to the acquisition, preservation, display and interpretation of artefacts relating to the intellectual, cultural, artistic and religious traditions of past and present Islamic communities. Behind the building’s angular, modern façade is a treasure trove of more than 1000 objects. On display are Islamic artworks and artefacts, including paintings, ceramics, metalwork and precious manuscripts. One special piece is a page of the 9th-10th century Blue Qur’an, considered one of the most exquisite Qur’an manuscripts ever made. (Overnight Toronto) B

Day 4: Friday 31 August, Day trip to Niagara Falls
  • Cruise of Niagara Falls
  • Niagara-on-the-Lake
  • Inniskillin Niagara Estate Winery

Today offers the ‘experience of a lifetime’ with a visit to one of the world’s greatest natural wonders: Niagara Falls. Expect an early morning departure and a long but stimulating day. We first drive to Niagara Falls and admire this spectacular natural wonder. The Horseshoe Falls (also known as the Canadian Falls) are 800 metres wide. Ninety per cent of the total (permitted) water flow cascades over its precipice. A highlight of our visit will be a memorable cruise that will take you on a journey through the foaming waters to the base of the falls.

We then drive to the nearby town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, an extremely picturesque historic town with a traditional main street, quaint shops and beautifully landscaped gardens. Here we will enjoy time at leisure to stroll about the town.

We then travel to the Inniskillin Niagara Estate winery, a short distance out of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Here we shall learn about the special ‘icewine’ produced in the region. The wine is a dessert wine with an intense flavour, produced by the harvesting and pressing of grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine. We return to Toronto in the early evening. (Overnight Toronto) B

Ottawa - 3 nights

Day 5: Saturday 1 September, Toronto – Ottawa
  • Kingston

Today we travel from Toronto to the capital of Canada, Ottawa. Our drive will provide another opportunity to enjoy the beautiful Canadian countryside. We will break our journey at the historic city of Kingston, founded in the late 1600s as a trading settlement. Kingston became an important military base for the British. After lunchtime at leisure we will continue on to Ottawa, arriving at approximately 5.30pm. (Overnight Ottawa) B

Day 6: Sunday 2 September, Ottawa
  • Rideau Canal Cruise
  • Canadian Museum of History, Ottawa
  • Time at leisure

Ottawa is magnificently situated on the Ottawa and Rideau Rivers and has a fine urban fabric with impressive streetscapes, superb public architecture and appealing areas of parkland. Named the capital of the Dominion of Canada in 1855, it was chosen in part as an alternative centre to the large and vibrant cities of Toronto and Montréal with their long-standing English and French rivalry and tensions. Ottawa is a city that embraces both English and French influences.

In the morning we shall view the city from the water as we take a cruise along the Rideau Canal. In addition to passing many of the great landmarks of Ottawa, we will be able to witness the fascinating lock system in place here. The canal connects Ottawa to Kingston and was built in 1832 as a precaution in case of war with the United States. It is the oldest continuously operating canal system in North America and in 2007 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We then make our way across the Ottawa River to the Canadian Museum of History in Hull (Gatineau). Housed in two extraordinary, innovative buildings designed by Douglas Cardinal, this museum makes a highly evocative architectural statement on the emergence of the North American continent and the natural elements that shaped it. The Grand and Canada Halls are truly majestic and striking spaces present impressive displays, including the marvellous collection of awe-inspiring totem poles. The ethnographic displays are particularly noteworthy and highlight the rich cultural diversity of the indigenous peoples of the nation.

We return to the hotel and the rest of the afternoon is at leisure. (Overnight Ottawa) B

Day 7: Monday 3 September, Ottawa
  • Parliament Hill tour
  • Notre-Dame Cathedral
  • National Gallery of Canada
  • Traditional Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Château Laurier Hotel

This morning we visit the distinctive Neo-Gothic sandstone and copper roofed Parliament House, completed in 1860. The parliament buildings are arranged around three sides of Parliament Hill’s central lawn. The Centre Block contains the Senate and Commons chambers, and is fronted by the Peace Tower on the south facade, with the Library of Parliament at the building’s rear. The East and West Blocks each contain ministers’ and senators’ offices, as well as meeting rooms and other administrative spaces. This collection is one of the most important examples of the Gothic Revival style anywhere in the world. We are fortunate to be taking a tour of the Centre Block just before it closes for a 10-year period of extensive restoration.

We shall make a brief visit to Notre Dame Cathedral, with its fine twin spires; construction of this church started in 1841 and it was completed in the 1880s.

The National Gallery of Canada, designed by Moshe Safdie, is a startling glass, granite and concrete structure with prismatic glass turrets. It sits high above the banks of the Ottawa River across from the Houses of Parliament. Many consider the NGA the best art museum in the country. Our tour of its collections will highlight its impressive corpus of Canadian (including the ‘Group of 7’) and International art. There will be free time after the tour to explore the museum at leisure.

Our final visit for the day is to the landmark Fairmont Château Laurier Hotel, where we shall indulge in a traditional high tea and relax after the day’s exertions in the hotel’s stylish ‘Zoe’s Lounge’, named after Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s beloved wife. The hotel is a magnificent limestone building, complete with turrets and masonry reminiscent of a French château! (Overnight Ottawa) B

Québec City - 2 nights

Day 8: Tuesday 4 September, Ottawa – Québec City
  • Scenic drive to Québec City
  • Orientation walking tour on arrival

Today we undertake a long but very scenic drive to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Québec City. In 1985, this superbly situated city was the first urban centre in North America to be so listed. Our road trip takes us into the heartland of French Canada. We pass through Montréal and follow the beautiful, scenic route next to St Lawrence River, which at this time of year should be starting to display its autumnal colours.

Québec is the only walled city north of the Rio Grande. It has a wonderful European feel with cobblestone streets lined with fine historic 18th-century buildings. On arrival there will be a short orientation walk to introduce this beautiful city. (Overnight Québec City) B

Day 9: Wednesday 5 September, Québec City
  • Morning lecture by David Mendel:Quebec, World Heritage City
  • Walking tour of Québec City
  • Lunch at the Garrison Club
  • La Citadelle tour

Anyone who has visited Québec will tell you that it is one of the most beautifully situated cities in North America, if not the world. The heart of French territorial aspirations in North America, Québec City is spectacularly located atop a natural 98-metre-high promontory, Cape Diamant, overlooking the St Lawrence River. This topography provided it with strategic natural defences. Indigenous fishermen and hunters originally inhabited the area before French explorers came seeking to exploit its natural resources. Samuel de Champlain established a fur trading post in 1608 and constructed a simple wooden stockade called the Habitation, and the first settlers soon started arriving. Despite its defensive position, the French city was invested by the Iroquois and, of course, the British. In 1759, British and French forces fought a major battle on the Plains of Abraham, just outside Québec City. After the Treaty of Paris in 1763, Québec City became capital of the new British Dominion. Today, however, Québec City remains a bastion of a rich and vibrant French-Canadian culture.

After an introductory lecture at the hotel, local historian David Mendel will lead us on a morning walking tour of the very compact old centre of Québec City. On our walk, we will see some of the most important sites like the Assemblie Nationale; the Parc des Champs de Bataille (Plaines d’Abraham); the Hôtel de Ville de Québec; Place d’Armes; Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral; Place Royale and Terrasse Dufferin. The last of these offers superb views over the St Lawrence River. Our meandering walk will also take in the Hotel Château Frontenac (1893), dramatically sited and built in the style of a French Château; Monastère des Ursulines, which opened its doors in 1639 and continues to welcome students today – and is the oldest educational institution for young women in North America; Basilique-Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de Québec, consecrated in 1674 but rebuilt after it was destroyed during the British-French conflict (1761 and 1768); and Séminaire de Québec, founded in 1663.

We conclude our morning with a visit and lunch at the private Garrison Club*, of which David is a member. The Garrison Club was founded in 1879 by officers of the Canadian militia. Its architecture is characterised by spacious rooms, high ceilings and elegant decor, while the delightful garden is one of the most beautiful in Québec City.
*Garrison Club Dress code: All people visiting the Club must be suitably attired. Men must wear jacket and tie; women also must be suitably dressed. Jeans, bermudas (shorts), sport ensembles and leggings are not permitted.

In the afternoon we shall visit the Citadelle, the impressive star-shaped fortress enclosing 16 hectares, built in 1820-32 and still a military base. The fortress we see today was built by the British. However, there were earlier French fortifications here that were started in the 17th century and were expanded and improved several times, particularly in 1745 after the fall of Louisbourg. The purpose for the British construction was to secure the strategic heights of Cap Diamant against the Americans and to serve as a refuge for the British garrison in the event of attack or rebellion. (Overnight Québec City) BL

Montréal - 2 nights

Day 10: Thursday 6 September, Québec City – Montréal
  • Scenic drive to Montréal
  • Musée des Beaux Arts

This morning we travel through the beautiful countryside on the other side of the St Lawrence River to Montréal, Canada’s second largest city and the world’s second largest Francophone city after Paris.

Montréal is centred on a large island in the St Lawrence River some 1000 miles from the Atlantic. The city’s geographic location contributed to its development as a major trading and commercial centre. In the mid-1600s, the first French settlers moved into the area permanently to exploit the rich natural resources of the region. While relations with the local Iroquois were not always cordial, the settlement thrived. The surrender of Montréal in 1760 to the British did not impede the growth of what would become a highly cosmopolitan city with a mix of French and growing numbers of immigrants from the British Isles. In 1837, a political uprising did not succeed in ousting the British but it did lead to greater political freedom for the province of Québec. At times in the 1800s and into the first half of the 20th century the city’s economy was extremely depressed. From the 1950s, restoration projects across the city instilled new confidence. The staging of the World Expo in 1967 and the Olympics in 1976 sent a message to the world that Montréal was gaining strength.

On arrival we will proceed first to the Montréal Musée des Beaux Arts (Museum of Fine Arts). Ranked as one of the nation’s leading museums, it is housed in a Beaux Arts edifice (1911) and a contemporary building designed by Moshe Safdie. This institution was founded some 140 years ago. Its collection incorporates North American art from the period before European settlement to the present day, and European art from the Middle Ages to the present. Highlights of the European collection are a fine El Greco and a Rembrandt. We will begin with a highlights tour of the collection and then there will be time to wander independently before walking the short distance to our hotel to check in. (Overnight Montréal) B

Day 11: Friday 7 September, Montréal
  • Walking tour of Vieux Montréal and waterfront
  • Basilique Notre-Dame
  • Musée de Archeologie et d’Histoire de Montréal
  • Walking tour through downtown Montréal (Square Dorchester, Place du Canada, Phillips Square, Place de la Cathedrale & McGill University)

We shall start the day with a guided walk through Vieux Montréal (Old Montréal), the historic heart of the city. We stroll through the Place d’Armes admiring the streetscapes with many fine architectural gems, like the 1847 Neo-Classical Banque de Montréal. We pass the Séminaire St Sulpice (Old Sulpician Seminary) and visit the twin-towered Basilique Notre-Dame, completed in 1829. The true attraction of the building is the dazzlingly and opulent interior, designed by Victor Bourgeau. We then stroll through the narrow streets to Place Jacques-Cartier, created in 1847 and named in honour for the famous explorer and admire the Hôtel de Ville (city hall) – an imposing Second Empire statement.

We then visit the Musée de Archeologie et d’ Histoire de Montréal, the city’s archaeology and history museum. Here we explore the site upon which Montréal was founded before Europeans set foot in Canada. The museum also has excellent temporary exhibitions.

We finish the day with a downtown walking tour in Square Dorchester with its statement architecture landmarks such as the Dominion Square Building, the Windsor and Sun Life Building. We make a brief stop at the Basilique-Cathédrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde (Mary, Queen of the World Basilica Cathedral), consecrated in 1894, before exploring the striking Place de Ville with its contemporary architecture, including I.M. Pei’s Banque Royale tower (1962). After a brief stop at Christ Church Cathedral (1859), we visit the grounds of McGill University before concluding the tour late in the afternoon, back in the centre of downtown. Here we have the option of exploring independently or returning to the hotel. (Overnight Montréal) B

Start of Holland America Cruise: Montréal - St Lawrence River - Québec City

Day 12: Saturday 8 September, Montréal and start of Canada-New England cruise
  • Parc du Mont-Royal
  • Oratoire Saint-Joseph
  • Board the MS Veendam, our cruise ship

This morning we drive to Parc du Mont-Royal, which at 234 metres above sea level affords great views over Montréal. Our scenic drive will include a stop at the Oratoire Saint-Joseph. Construction of this stunning domed structure was completed in 1967 and supervised by a Benedictine architect monk, Dom Paul Bellot. In the early 1900s a small chapel had been built on the site dedicated to the healing powers of St Joseph. With each passing year, the chapel attracted ever larger crowds of pilgrims so it was decided that a new building was required. Today, the Oratorie is said to attract two million people every year. After returning to Montréal we transfer to our Holland America cruise ship, MS Veendam. The ship departs for Québec City at 4.00p.m. As the MS Veendam cruises the St Lawrence we will enjoy spectacular views of Montréal and the shoreline in the fading light of the day. (Overnight aboard MS Veendam) BD

Holland America Cruise: Québec City & the Gulf of St Lawrence

Day 13: Sunday 9 September, Québec City: in port 7.00am-5.00pm
  • Musée de la Civilisation
  • Musée du Québec

Early risers will enjoy some wonderful views of Québec as we make a return visit to this beautiful city for the day. We shall take the opportunity to visit two of the city’s great museums. First we shall visit the Musée de la Civilisation, critically acclaimed for the quality of its exhibitions and its striking and uplifting architectural vision. This statement structure, another work of architect Moshe Safdie, links two modern, stark, angular buildings with Maison Estèbe, a stone house dating from 1752.

We then visit the Musée du Québec, which offers a rich and diverse fine art collection. We enjoy a guided tour showcasing the highlights of the Pierre Lassonde Pavillion. At an appointed time in the early afternoon we shall return to our ship. We’ll be free to explore the port area at leisure before re-boarding the MS Veendam half an hour before it sails. (Overnight aboard MS Veendam) BD

Day 14: Monday 10 September, Cruising on the Gulf of St Lawrence
  • Sightseeing on the Gulf of St Lawrence
  • Lunch at the Pinnacle Grill, aboard MS Veendam

Today we sail through the magnificent St Lawrence seaway, where we can enjoy some breathtaking coastal scenery with beautiful hamlets, cliffs that rise over 1000 feet out of the sea and, if luck is with us, we may even sight some whales. We shall lunch together at the Pinnacle Grill. (Overnight aboard MS Veendam) BLD 

Holland America Cruise: Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

Day 15: Tuesday 11 September, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island (in port: 9.00am-6.00pm)
  • Blue Heron Drive
  • Anne of Green Gables Country
  • Victoria
  • Charlottetown

We arrive in Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island, founded in 1768 and named for the wife of King George III. Our private ASA shore excursion will be led by a local guide, who will take us on a tour of this beautiful and idyllic island. We shall pass through the Prince Edward Island National Park before stopping at the site of ‘Green Gables House’, the inspiration for L. M. Montgomery’s first novel, Anne of Green Gables (published 1908). We shall continue our island circuit for a stop in the picturesque seaside village of Victoria overlooking Northumberland Strait. Then it is on to Charlottetown and, depending on timing on the day, there will be some free time before we board our ship. (Overnight aboard MS Veendam) BD

Holland America Cruise: Sydney, Nova Scotia

Day 16: Wednesday 12 September, Sydney, Nova Scotia (in port: 8.00 am – 4.00 pm)
  • Fortress of Louisbourg
  • Walking tour of Sydney

Once we have disembarked in Sydney we travel by private coach to the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site. This area was first settled in 1713 as a fishing port but it gradually increased in importance due to its strategic location during the Anglo-French struggle for control of what is now Canada. Much of the site is a reconstruction of the French fortress of the 18th century, using some of the original materials.

We return to Sydney for a brief a walking tour of the old town, founded by Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution. During World War II it was an important convoy staging point. On our walking tour we pass some notable historic buildings including St Patrick’s, the oldest Roman Catholic Church in Cape Breton; Cossit House, built in 1787; and Jost House. (Overnight aboard MS Veendam) BD

Holland America Cruise: Halifax, Nova Scotia

Day 17: Thursday 13 September, Halifax, Nova Scotia (in port: 8.00am-4.00pm)
  • Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
  • Walking tour of Halifax
  • Halifax Citadel

MS Veendam will skirt the powerful, rocky coastline of Nova Scotia’s south shore before arriving in Halifax, which contains a superb natural harbour. Dominated by an impressive fortress, Halifax is a reflection of British-French rivalry. The fortress was constructed to counter the French fortress of Louisbourg. Work started on the fortified city in 1749. Halifax also became a major centre for privateering (state ordained piracy) and a number of old waterfront buildings were constructed by privateers.

Our ASA excursion commences with a visit to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, its major attraction being the Titanic exhibit. It tells the story of the Titanic and its connection to Halifax, which became the centre of rescue operations as ships sailed from this port to rescue the passengers. In Fairview Cemetery gravestones mark the final resting place of 150 victims. The display features many Titanic artefacts, including the only surviving Titanic deck chair. The museum also details the story of the Halifax Explosion which occurred just a few years later. The Norwegian relief ship, Imo, collided with the French munitions ship, Mont Blanc, in the harbour and the subsequent explosion (the largest before the atomic bomb) razed the north end of Halifax, killing and injuring thousands. This disaster caught the attention of the world and support readily flowed in to rebuild the shattered city.

Next, we take a walking tour of Halifax to explore its fine 18th- and 19th-century buildings as well as its more contemporary architecture. As we weave our way through the streets we shall see Province House, the seat of government and Canada’s oldest legislative building, referred to as “a gem of Georgian architecture” by Charles Dickens, who passed through here in the 1840s. We also climb to Halifax Citadel National Historic Site to explore this impressive fortress built in 1828. The citadel was one of the most advanced British military fortifications, rivalling Gibraltar and Bermuda in sophistication. We also see new urban development in the Historic Properties, a popular complex of 19th-century wharves and privateer warehouses transformed into upscale boutiques and charming restaurants. (Overnight aboard MS Veendam) BD

Holland America Cruise: Bar Harbor, Maine, USA

Day 18: Friday 14 September, Bar Harbor, Maine, USA (in port: 8.00am-5.00pm)
  • Holland America Line Excursion: ‘Acadia National Park and Rustic Lobster Bake’

This afternoon we join an excursion organised by Holland America Line to Acadia National Park. We first pass through the quaint town of Bar Harbor, once the exclusive summer resort of wealthy Americans. Today Bar Harbor is an artists’ enclave and gateway to the natural beauty of Acadia National Park, much of which was donated to the nation by the Rockefeller family.

A journey along Park Loop Road takes us past the spectacular scenery of Maine’s rocky coastline including Thunder Hole, where the ocean swells create a thunderous roar, Otter Cliffs, and the Jordan Pond House. Weather permitting, we ascend 1530 feet to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on North America’s eastern seaboard. The 360-degree panoramic view enables us to see how glaciers carved through the granite cliffs to form a sublime landscape.

As part of our program we shall be treated to a true ‘Downeast’ lobster bake in a beautiful setting on the coast. We will enjoy typical Maine lobster pulled fresh from the ocean, drizzled with butter, and containing all of the trimmings. Dessert is one of Maine’s local favourites – homemade blueberry pie. (An alternative is available upon request for non-lobster eaters). (Overnight aboard MS Veendam) BLD

Boston - 2 nights

Day 19: Saturday 15 September, Boston, Massachusetts, USA (Arrive Port of Boston at 7.00am)
  • Peabody Museum & Glass Flowers Collection, Museum of Natural History, Harvard
  • John F. Kennedy Library & Museum
  • Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Our cruise concludes this morning on arrival in Boston at 7.00am. In Boston, described as ‘the cradle of American Independence’, we encounter landmarks with deep resonance for US history. After disembarking from our ship, we travel by coach to Harvard University. Founded in 1663, Harvard was the first university in the USA. Here we will visit the Peabody Museum, home to a fascinating archaeology and ethnology collection, and the adjacent Museum of Natural History, which houses the university’s famed glass flower collection.

We then visit the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, a moving and fascinating visit that provides an insight into the tragically shortened life, and the times, of President John F. Kennedy.

After lunch we visit the superb Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum – a monument that gives an intimate insight into her extraordinary lifestyle and her taste in art and architecture. Isabella Stewart Gardner moved in a world of creative people and shocked the Boston establishment with the construction of her Venetian-style palazzo, complete with a landscaped central courtyard. The collection of over two thousand beautiful paintings, sculptures, pieces of furniture and textiles reveals a taste for the Italian Renaissance and 17th-century Dutch Masters. A highlight is Titian’s Rape of Europa, which is claimed by many art scholars to be the greatest painting in any American museum. (Overnight Boston) B

Day 20: Sunday 16 September, Boston
  • Boston’s Freedom Trail
  • Boston Museum of Fine Arts
  • Boston Public Library

This morning we take a 90-minute walking tour along Boston’s famous ‘Freedom Trail’, stopping at sites including King’s Chapel, Old State House, Old South Meeting House and Faneuil Hall (many sites are exterior visits only as they are not open to the public). The Trail will reveal the role played by the people of Boston in the American War of Independence. For example, we shall learn about Paul Revere’s famous ride to warn of the approach of the British, as well as the signal of lighted lanterns flashing from the Old North Church steeple.

We then use Boston’s efficient transport system to visit the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, which boasts one of the country’s finest collections of American art, as well as extensive Asian and fine European art collections. Highlights of the collection include Rembrant’s The Artist in his Studio, Goya’s Seated Giant, Copley’s Paul Revere, and a host of works by El Greco, Velázquez, Monet, Degas, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Singer Sargent and a superb collection of Egyptian antiquities.

Boston’s citizens have played a critical role in the development of the USA up to the present day. Our day concludes with a visit to the marvellous Boston Public Library for a guided tour. Established in 1848, this was the first large free municipal library in the United States. The present building on Copley Square was completed in 1895, designed by architect Charles Follen McKim as a ‘palace of the people’. In addition to its superb collection of books, the library is renowned for the murals that adorn the walls of the main halls.

This evening we shall gather together for a farewell drink and salute the end of our great journey through Eastern Canada to Boston. (Overnight Boston) B

Day 21: Monday 17 September, Boston

Our tour concludes in Boston. Participants taking the ‘designated’ flight will be transferred to the airport by private coach for their flight home. B



21-day Cultural Tour of Eastern Canada & Boston

Accommodation is in 4-star hotels, in twin-share rooms with en suite bathroom. Each hotel is centrally located within the cities that we visit. Double/twin rooms for single occupancy may be requested – and are subject to availability and payment of the Double (as Single) Supplement.

  • Toronto (4 nights): 4-star Omni King Edward Hotel – a boutique-style hotel located in the heart of the city, providing easy access to major museums and sites by walking or public transport. www.omnihotels.com/hotels/toronto-king-edward
  • Ottawa (3 nights): 4-star The Lord Elgin Hotel – located in the heart of downtown Ottawa directly across from Confederation Park and the National Arts Centre. www.lordelginhotel.ca
  • Québec City (2 nights): 4-star Hotel Manoir Victoria – located in the heart of Old Québec, inside the walled city. www.manoir-victoria.com
  • Montréal (2 nights): 4-star Le Meridien Versailles – a boutique-style hotel located in the heart of the downtown area, at the foot of Mt-Royal on Sherbrooke Street West, affectionately called the Golden Square Mile. www.versailleshotels.com
  • Holland America Cruise (7 nights): aboard MS Veendam – ‘Ocean-view Stateroom’ cabins (Categories C, D & DA). www.hollandamerica.com
  • Boston (2 nights): 4-star The Lenox Hotel – a boutique hotel located in the heart of Back Bay near Copley Square, home to many well-known landmarks including Trinity Church, the Prudential Center and Newbury Street, and only minutes from the Museum of Fine Arts, Fenway Park and the Public Garden. www.lenoxhotel.com

Notehotels are subject to change, in which case a hotel of similar standard will be provided.

7-day Holland America Cruise

The MS Veendam is registered in the Netherlands and carries 1350 guests with a crew of 580. It features public rooms, facilities, services and entertainment that you would expect on a modern ship. All your on-board meals are included in the tour price. Lunches on excursions specifically designed for ASA travellers are not included. Drinks on board (and on excursions) are at your cost.

Shore Excursions
On arrival at each port you will have the choice of joining the ASA shore excursion (included in the tour price) or you may elect to undertake any of the excursions offered by the cruise company (at your own expense).

Cabins: Ocean-view Staterooms (Categories C, D & DA)

  • ‘Ocean-view Stateroom’ cabins (Categories C, D & DA) have been reserved (the tour price is based on twin-share)
  • Cabins consist of 2 lower beds convertible to 1 queen-size bed, bathtub & shower. A limited number of cabins is available in each category. Participants will therefore be assigned cabins on a first-come-first-serve basis.
  • Upgrades to other cabin categories may be requested, and are subject to availability. Travellers who require a king-size bed will need to upgrade to a Verandah Suite.
  • It is recommended that travellers review the DECKPLAN.

Staterooms, Ms Veendam

Ocean-view Staterooms, MS Veendam, Holland America Line. 2 lower beds convertible to 1 queen-size bed, bathtub, shower. Approximately 174–255 sq. ft.


  • Diverse choice of dining venues: elegant main Dining Room; fresh, cooked-to-order specialties in the relaxed Lido Restaurant; Canaletto evening restaurant with waiter service; the Pinnacle Grill, a popular reservations-only restaurant featuring Sterling Silver Beef and fresh seafood. One evening meal at the Pinnacle Grill restaurant is included in the tour price.
  • Complimentary 24-hour in-room dining
  • Extensive wine list featuring wines highly rated by Wine Spectator.

Sailing Map


How to book

How to Book


Please complete the ASA RESERVATION APPLICATION and send it to Australians Studying Abroad together with your non-refundable deposit. A deposit of $1000.00 AUD per person is required to reserve a place on this tour in twin share accommodation, or $1300.00 AUD per person if reserving single room/cabin accommodation.

Passport Details

All participants must provide no later than 75 days prior to the commencement of the program a photocopy of the front page of their current passport.

Double (as Single) Supplement

Payment of this supplement will ensure accommodation in a double room/cabin for single use throughout the tour. The number of rooms/cabins available for single use is extremely limited. People wishing to take this supplement are therefore advised to book well in advance.

Practical Information

Practical Information

The number of flags is a guide to the degree of difficulty of ASA tours relative to each other (not to those of other tour companies). It is neither absolute nor literal. One flag is given to the least taxing tours, seven to the most. Flags are allocated, above all, according to the amount of walking and standing each tour involves. Nevertheless, all ASA tours require that participants have a good degree of fitness enabling 2-3 hours walking or 1-1.5 hours standing still on any given site visit or excursion. Many sites are accessed by climbing slopes or steps and have uneven terrain.

This 21-day Cultural Tour of Eastern Canada & Boston involves:
  • Extensive walking, often up and down hills, flights of stairs, and cobbled streets (eg. Québec City).
  • Use of public transport in the major cities including the subway.
  • The use of audio headsets, which amplify the voice of your guide (despite noisy surroundings). This technology also allows you to move freely during site visits without missing any information.
  • 4-star hotels with five accommodation changes.
  • 7-day cruise aboard MS Veendam from Montréal to Boston, involving cruising on open water from Halifax to Boston.
  • Inter-city coach travel.
  • You must be able to carry your own hand luggage. Hotel porterage includes 1 piece of luggage per person.

It is important to remember that ASA programs are group tours, and slow walkers affect everyone in the group. As the group must move at the speed of the slowest member, the amount of time spent at a site may be reduced if group members cannot maintain a moderate walking pace. ASA tours should not present any problem for active people who can manage day-to-day walking and stair-climbing. However, if you have any doubts about your ability to manage on a program, please ask your ASA travel consultant whether this is a suitable tour for you.

Please note: it is a condition of travel that all participants agree to accept ASA’s directions in relation to their suitability to participate in activities undertaken on the tour, and that ASA retains the sole discretion to direct a tour participant to refrain from a particular activity on part of the tour. For further information please refer to the ASA Reservation Application Form.

Practical Information

Prior to departure, tour members will receive practical notes which include information on visa requirements, health, photography, weather, clothing and what to pack, custom regulations, bank hours, currency regulations, electrical appliances and food. The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade website has advice for travellers: www.smartraveller.gov.au

Tour Price & Inclusions

Tour Price & Inclusions

AUD $11,280.00  Land Content Only – Early-Bird Special: Book before 30 June 2017
AUD $11,480.00  Land Content Only
AUD $3380.00 Single Supplement

For competitive Economy, Business or First Class airfares and/or group airfares please contact ASA for further information.

Tour Price (Land Content Only) includes:
  • Accommodation in twin-share rooms with private facilities in 4-star hotels
  • ‘Holland-America Canada & New England Cruise’ including 7 nights in ‘Ocean-view Stateroom cabins (Categories C, D & DA) on a twin-share basis. Upgrades to other cabin categories may be requested and are subject to availability. For options please refer to the DECKPLAN. Travellers who require a king-size bed will need to upgrade to a Verandah Suite.
  • Buffet breakfast daily, lunches & evening meals as indicated in the itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch & D=evening meal
  • Drinks at welcome meal. Other meals may not have drinks included.
  • Transportation by air-conditioned coach as outlined in the itinerary; use of public transport in some cities
  • Airport-hotel transfers if travelling on ASA’s ‘designated’ flights
  • Porterage of one piece of luggage per person at hotels (not at airports)
  • Lecture and site-visit program
  • Entrance fees to all sites
  • Use of audio headsets during site visits
  • Tour reference book
  • Tips for the coach driver, local guides, restaurants for included meals & tipping on cruise ship.
Tour Price (Land Content Only) does not include:
  • International Airfare: Australia-Toronto, Boston-Australia
  • Personal spending money
  • Airport-hotel transfers if not travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flights
  • Luggage in excess of 20kg (44lbs)
  • Travel Insurance
Tour Map

Tour Map

Terms & Conditions

A deposit of $1000.00 AUD per person is required to reserve a place on this tour in twin share accommodation, or $1300.00 AUD per person if reserving single room/cabin accommodation.

Cancellation Fees

Payment conditions and cancellation fees that apply to this tour vary from other ASA tours. These conditions have been modified in order to comply with payment & cancellation fees applicable for the Holland-America Line Cruise. If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:

  • Prior to 20 March 2018: Your deposit will be refunded less $500.00 AUD cancellation fee
  • 21 March to 76 days prior: Your deposit will be refunded less $700.00 AUD cancellation fee or $1000.00 AUD if you reserved a single-occupancy room/cabin
  • 75-61 days prior 25% of total amount due
  • 60-31 days prior 50% of total amount due
  • 30-17 days prior 75% of total amount due
  • 16-0 days prior 100% of total amount due

We take the day on which you cancel as being that on which we receive written confirmation of cancellation.

Unused Portions of the Tour

We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.

Will the Tour Price or Itinerary Change?

If the number of participants on a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates ASA reserves the right to amend the advertised price. We shall, however, do all in our power to maintain the published price. If an ASA tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all tour monies paid. Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of ASA make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes in due course.

Travel Insurance

ASA requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. A copy of your travel insurance certificate and the reverse charge emergency contact phone number must be received by ASA no later than 95 days prior to the commencement of the tour.

Final Payment

The balance of the tour price will be due 75 days prior to the tour commencement date.

Limitation of Liability

ASA is not a carrier, event or tourist attraction host, accommodation or dining service provider. All bookings made and tickets or coupons issued by ASA for transport, event, accommodation, dining and the like are issued as an agent for various service providers and are subject to the terms and conditions and limitations of liability imposed by each service provider. ASA is not responsible for their products or services. If a service provider does not deliver the product or service for which you have contracted, your remedy lies with the service provider, not ASA. ASA will not be liable for any claim (eg. sickness, injury, death, damage or loss) arising from any change, delay, detention, breakdown, cancellation, failure, accident, act, omission or negligence of any such service provider however caused (contingencies). You must take out adequate travel insurance against such contingencies. ASA’s liability in respect of any tour will be limited to the refund of amounts received from you less all non-refundable costs and charges and the costs of any substituted event or alternate services provided. The terms and conditions of the relevant service provider from time to time comprise the sole agreement between you and that service provider. ASA reserves the sole discretion to cancel any tour or to modify itineraries in any way it considers appropriate. Tour costs may be revised, subject to unexpected price increases or exchange rate fluctuations.

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