France, Cape Race, and the End of our Adventure
As I write this, Adventure Canada’s Ocean Endeavour is steaming off the coast of Cape Race, Newfoundland. We’re making a speedy 12 knots across the water, with light swells from the south and a temperature of about 8°C out on deck. The fog that enveloped us yesterday is gone, swept away by the winds that have increased from nothing to roughly 10 kilometres per hour.
We left Saint-Pierre et Miquelon at 1400 hours; exactly 24 hours after having arrived yesterday afternoon on an unscheduled stop. The weather that caused us to miss the Magdalene Islands and our Expedition Stop on the southern coast of Newfoundland turned out to be a blessing, as it gave us a full afternoon, evening and morning in Saint-Pierre et Miquelon; itself an overseas colony of France.
The city of Saint-Pierre is home to a little over 6,000 people, most of whom live in the collective city center. Not that we could see the city from onboard Ocean Endeavour; some of the best (meaning moodiest) fog blanketed Saint-Pierre when we arrived yesterday. You could scarcely see across the length of the ship, let alone anything else.
For such a last-minute port of call, Adventure Canada really rose to the occasion. On offer: an intermediate-level hike across to the other side of the island for wildlife-watching and botany-spotting; a historical bus tour of the city center with multiple departure times and the option to be dropped off opposite the Tourist Information Center; and a guided walking tour of nearby Sailor Island.
Of course, guests also had the option to do their own thing and explore to make the most of our unscheduled time here. So, rather than walk the 20-minutes into town through the fog, I cycled.
New for this season, Adventure Canada has introduced an onboard mountain bike rental program in select ports of call. The Ocean Endeavour has a fleet of 13 Kona mountain bikes, which are available during each Expedition for a per-person cost of $55 CAD. The rental fee includes the bicycle, lock, helmet, and any other necessary gear you might require.
Now, on many cruises (in particular, river cruises), bicycles are provided to guests on a complimentary basis. However, you can imagine how in-demand these thirteen bikes would be if they could be reserved for free. The $55 per guest charge ensures you really, really want to bike around, and that bikes aren’t reserved and then never used.
Since this is the first voyage this feature has been rolled out on – and with a foggy afternoon creating absolutely no demand for the bikes – Adventure Canada invited me to take one for a spin around Saint-Pierre.
If you’ve cycled on river cruises, forget everything: these aren’t city-based road bikes; these are proper off-road expedition bikes, complete with heavy-duty suspension, adjustable seats and handle bars, and multiple gears.
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