Five Ships in Quebec City – But Only One Viking
“Adventure is interesting enough – in retrospect. Especially to the person who didn’t have it.”
- Vilhjalmur Stefansson, Canadian Explorer
Today, guests aboard Viking Cruises’ Viking Star arrived at their last port of call on this historic transatlantic crossing prior to the end of our voyage in Montreal, Canada tomorrow. But that’s for then. In the meantime, we’re in Quebec City, one of the oldest and most historic cities in all of Canada for a day of exploration.
When Viking Star berthed this morning, I struggled to get my bearings despite this having been my fourth visit to this great city. I finally realized we were coming alongside Berths 103/104 to the west of the city; effectively the “cheap seats” as far as cruise berths go. But that’s not Viking’s fault: it’s a record-breaking day here today, with four other ships joining us in port: AIDAdiva; Caribbean Princess; Norwegian Dawn; and Oceania’s Regatta.
Still, it came as no surprise to see Caribbean Princess and Norwegian Dawn occupying the prime cruise terminal berths at the foot of Quebec’s historic Quartier Petit Champlain district; both lines have been calling on Quebec City for decades. And herein lies the challenge that Viking may face as it dips its toes into the North American market for the first time: grandfathering.
Because Viking is the new kid on the block, it may have difficulty securing prime docking spaces in port cities where lines like Holland America, Princess and the like have strong, multi-decade histories. Alaska is a great example of this: the so-called “legacy lines” snap up all the permits for Glacier Bay National Park, leaving the rest to content themselves with the far-more-distant Sawyer Glacier, or the ice-choked confines of Tracy Arm Fjord.
On other lines, our docking location today would be a huge problem; not so when you travel with Viking. Today, a complimentary shuttle is whisking guests between the pier and the Quartier Petit Champlain every half hour for the duration of our stay. It’s another little “Viking touch” that few other lines – aside from the major luxury operators – bother to offer.
Viking, of course, also offers a complimentary excursion here in Quebec City: a panoramic city tour with stops made at the Plains of Abraham and the famous Fairmont Chateau Frontenac hotel, situated in Upper Quebec’s Old Town. For those who are looking for something more in-depth, Viking also offers a wide variety of paid tour options, and both complimentary and paid tours can be booked in advance online using My Viking Journey.
While the tour returned immediately to the ship after our stop at the Chateau Frontenac, I spoke with our guide and elected to stay and have lunch in the Old Town center. If you’ve never been to Quebec before, one of the region’s legendary craft beers and a bowl of poutine (fries, gravy, cheese curds) is a must.
Some photos from my day of touring in Quebec City: