After 6 days on the open ocean and not seeing any other form of human life for days, land was a welcome sight, but in true Danielle-style, I was heading straight back out to sea on a tour to Puffin Island. We’d finally reached St John’s, Newfoundland.
I’ve visited Norway and Iceland and did several tours in both destinations, in the hope of seeing a puffin, but it never materialised. St John’s was my puffin saviour because they were everywhere, which was good as Witless Bay Reserve is home to the largest puffin colony in North America. They are stunning birds, known as the ‘clowns of the sea’. I can’t say I’m a big fan of birds, but how could anyone not be blown away by the sight of such colourful and fun creatures. I had thought they were far bigger than what they actually are, they’re about the size of a small beer can.
The boat trip across to the reserve also allowed us to get up close to some colossal icebergs! We’d spotted a few from the ship as Saga Sapphire entered port, but these were so much bigger and the colour of blue rushing through them was incredible. I’ve never seen anything like it before, it was fascinating. Mother Nature at her finest. Our guide said they had likely made their way down from Greenland.
The tour also included a stop at Signal Hill and the views were breath-taking. We could see across to Cape Spear, which is the most easterly point in North America, and It was here that I met a gorgeous Newfoundland dog named ‘Chief’. He was loving the attention from visitors and leaned in for a selfie with me. I couldn’t refuse him, he was such a loveable dog.
We sailed from St John’s and briefly went off course, Captain Horne was taking us in search of icebergs and my goodness did he find them! They were everywhere. It was completely surreal. Huge mountains of ice were majestically thrusting themselves high out of the water, some glistening white and others dazzling us with their blue hues. It really was magnificent, and I felt hugely privileged to be witnessing something so beautiful.
Because of a low-pressure system directly over Sydney, our itinerary had to be altered slightly. We’d been due to arrive in Sydney on May 22nd but instead, we arrived earlier into Gaspé and then spent the night in port.
Gaspé was very pleasant, but very small. Once the ship was alongside and cleared, I went into town on the shuttle bus. In less than 2 hours I’d explored most of it, but I do like remote ports like Gaspé. Sometimes it’s nice to head ashore under your own steam and see what you find, rather than always having a plan in place.
There were several tours available, including one to Forillon National Park, but I opted out. I had pre-booked a walking tour in the national park, however, it was removed from the list once I was onboard. I did think about rebooking another tour which was similar but decided that it wasn’t meant to be. I enjoyed a leisurely morning onboard the following day, writing this very blog, making more bracelets and doing other glamorous jobs, like washing and ironing.
Saga Sapphire sailed from Gaspé mid-afternoon and began her journey to Sept-Iles, located at the mouth of the Gulf of St Lawrence. This was another port that wasn’t a mainstream tourism destination, but with hectic days ahead of us in Montreal and Quebec, it too was a welcome ‘take it easy’ day.
In the morning, I used the shuttle bus service and made my all-important call to Walmart, I really didn’t have time to do much else because the walk to most places was quite lengthy, the shuttle was only operating every 30 minutes and I had to be back early afternoon for a tour. Still, I enjoyed the ride on the bus to Walmart which went through the Innu community. Did you know they have their own schools, churches and even their own Police. I found it very interesting.
The afternoon was filled with thrill and adventure, as I’d booked myself onto the ‘Archipelago Scenic Zodiac’ tour. I do love a RIB ride! We didn’t quite stick to the scheduled itinerary because we spotted a blue whale within minutes of leaving the pier. It was magnificent. The first time I’d had the pleasure of not only seeing one but being so incredibly close. We floated around it for some time before then heading across to see the hundreds of birds on Corossal Island, one of the most important bird sanctuaries in eastern Canada. That encounter introduced me to razorbills and they’re now my new favourite bird. They look like flying penguins and flap their wings so incredibly fast but never seem to get anywhere. They were very cute and not at all phased by our presence. I also spotted some eider ducks as we left the island. They too are a fairly attractive bird.
We spent the following day at sea, sailing up the St Lawrence River towards Montreal. It was much warmer than it had been in days, and lots of passengers were out on the open decks looking for beluga whales, which several of them did manage to see. i also caught sight, they weren’t too far from the ship, but they don’t really make for great photos as you can’t see much of them. We had land either side of the ship for the duration of the day and it was practically perfect. I even enjoyed my chilli con carne lunch al-fresco while taking in the sights.
Our next ports would be Montreal and Quebec, and my days were action packed in both ports…