The Cruise Begins and a Tour of Boston
TR Robertson-Day 6 of our East Coast Adventure began with a morning departure from our hotel headed to Pier 90, Berth 4 off 12th Street, driven by an older gentleman who simply wouldn’t let any traffic issues stop him from getting us there in a timely manner. Our driver weaved, merged and went around any traffic in his way, regardless of any honks or one finger salutes he received. Now mind you, we weren’t really in a rush to get to Pier 90 as check in for us did not begin until noon, but our driver was determined, I think, to get us there in record time. Arriving, thanking and paying our limo-taxi driver for getting us there safely in a memorable ride, we dropped off our luggage to personnel assigned to assist in loading luggage onto our ship.
This part of our vacation was a 14-day cruise on the Oceania ship Insignia which would take us to Boston, Maine, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Greenland and Iceland. This cruise was originally to take place three years ago, except it was to begin in Singapore with stops in Thailand and numerous stops in India. When the pandemic ended that trip, and so many others for lots of travelers, the cruise line business began to deal with how to survive and keep customers. India became a destination not included for most travel plans, primarily due to that countries difficulty in dealing with the COVID outbreak and vaccinations. We picked the East Coast itinerary – Atlantic & Artic Awe, but in 2021, the trip was cancelled. We ended up being wait-listed on the trip for 2022. Fortunately, we found out at the beginning of 2022 that we had been approved for the cruise, and the date the trip would take place. I should mention we personally like Oceania Cruise Line as the ships are a little smaller and designed primarily for adults. This is definitely not a Disney cruise so you will not find youngsters running down the halls and massive water slides or wave pools and the activities are designed around an older crowd. For us, Oceania offers everything we like, and the food is excellent.
Checking in involved filling out some additional forms, turning in our Negative COVID tests, getting photographed for our ship cards we would use for everything, then boarding the ship. Most of the staterooms were still being prepared, so it was up to the Terrace Café for lunch and to begin to meet people on the cruise. The Insignia was scheduled to leave port at 5:00 pm, and these ships are generally always on time. A bit later, checking into our stateroom, we unpacked and prepared for 14 days of calling Room 7021 home. As time approached for departure, we, like everyone else, went up to Deck 10 to watch and take pictures of Manhattan, Ellis Island, Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty and other sites as we sailed out the Hudson River to the Atlantic Ocean complete with Sail Away Celebration on board. We would be sailing overnight and part of the morning, 188 nautical miles, for a morning arrival in Boston, Massachusetts, our first stop and our first tour off the ship. The rest of the evening was getting to know the ships layout, the location of the restaurants and bars and meeting other travelers.
Day 7 began with the ship sailing Cape Cod Canal toward Boston with our arrival time set for noon. We had a great breakfast in the Terrace Café then joined others to hear guest lecturer Dr. Sherry Hutt speak on the history of Boston and the historical sites to see in her presentation “It All Started in Boston”. Boston has been referred to as the Cradle of the American Revolution and it is one of the oldest cities in the nation, founded on September 7, 1630, by English Puritans. Eleven ships arrived with 700 people led by John Winthrop, originally calling the town Trimount. It was here, on March 5, 1770, that an incident resulting in the death of 5 colonists would be added to additional grievances provoking a nation to rise up against King George of England. As more and more British troops began to arrive in the colonies to try and put down various uprisings, the important date of April 18, 1775, would take place when Paul Revere, Samuel Prescott and William Dawes would see the lights coming from the Old North Church steeple that told them the British were arriving by sea. They would ride to Concord and Lexington spreading the word about the British soldiers advancing to the cities. All three were actually detained by the British after their rides but were released. On April 19, 1775, the Battle of Concord and Lexington took place in the famous “Shot heard ‘round the world”. The Siege of Boston took place between 1775-1776 and the Battle of Bunker Hill in Boston, on June 17,1775, is said to have been the occurrence that changed public opinion about any resistance they may have had to breaking away from England. Shortly after the battle, John Adams proposed that General George Washington be accepted as the leader of the Continental Army. By March 17, 1776, the British had evacuated Boston.
The Insignia docked in Boston Harbor close to noon and shortly after this clearance was given to disembark the shop. For tours, the passengers would assemble in the Insignia Lounge to receive cards designating what tour you were on. Leaving the ship, we boarded our tour bus for a four-hour tour of the highlights of Boston. Interestingly, we were told Boston was originally marshland and much of the marshland was filled in to increase the usable land for the city. Boston is considered the largest man-made city in the United States. Our first stop was Copley Square, named after John Copley, a portrait and historical artist from the 1700’s famous for some of the most accurate portraits of people we recognize from our nation’s history. His portrait of George Washington is the one used on our dollar bill today. In the square, 150-year-old Trinity Episcopal Church was pointed out, once led by Minister Phillip Brooks, said to be the greatest preacher of the 19th century and the person who wrote the Christmas song, “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”. The Square is also next to Boylston Street, the concluding point of the famous Boston Marathon, marked in the Square by Tortoise and Hare bronze statues. Across the street is the John Hancock Building, the tallest building in Boston. Across the Square is one of the oldest libraries in the nation, The Central Library in Copley Square.
Back on the bus we drove past a number of firsts – The Christian Science Religion complex which is the home of the beginning of this religion, founded by Mary Baker Eddy (1879); the YMCA of Boston was the first YMCA in the nation (1851); Boston is the home of the first subway in the Americas (1897), and Fenway Park is the oldest baseball park in the nation at 102 years old (1912). Fenway is on the National Historic Register and the outside design of the facility cannot be changed. Continuing through Boston we crossed the Longfellow Bridge into Cambridge, past MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) founded on April 10, 1861, as we headed to take a quick walking tour of Harvard University, the oldest university in the United States (founded September 8, 1636). There are brick walls and parts of the original iron fence still surrounding the university. Originally the university was for men only and the gates on the iron fence were locked at 9:00 pm each night. We walked through one of the arched iron gate entrances and past several of the classroom buildings, took photos by the statue of Reverend John Harvard and rubbed the statues toes (the superstition is students rub the toes for good luck on exams), walked through Harvard Square by the massive Harvard Library and back to the bus. Rev. Harvard did not found Harvard but was the largest original benefactor.
Back on the bus we drove back across the bridge into Boston, heading to the historic Old North Church. We parked and walked on the outskirts of the Italian district, a ¼ sq. mile section of Boston home to over 100 Italian restaurants, to the Old North Church. The church was built in 1723 as the Christ Church in the City of Boston. It became historically famous on April 18, 1775, when lanterns in the steeple signaled “one if by land and two if by sea”, relating to the arrival of British troops to Boston and the beginning of Paul Revere and two other colonialist’s equally famous ride. We were able to see the red line painted on the ground that was the beginning of the Freedom Trail and the Paul Revere statue before we entered the church for a quick tour. The original wooden booths still stand in the church, designed to keep in the warmth of hot coals on cold winter days. Leaving the church, we walked up the hill leading to Copp’s Hill Burial Ground, established in 1659, and then to a park that looked across the water toward the USS Constitution, the world’s oldest ship still afloat (launched in 1797), known as Old Ironsides, and we could see the Bunker Hill Monument in the distance. Driving back to the ship we could see the Boston Gardens, home of the Boston Celtics and the Boston Bruins. We headed back to the Insignia after this quick four-hour tour.
Since we had been on tour, there was no shopping or eaating time provided and I wish we had had a little more time to taste some Boston Baked Beans, traditional clam chowder and Boston Cream Pie at one of the restaurants in town and take a visit to the bar used as the Cheers bar for the T.V. show. It was still a great afternoon and we saw a lot of our nations history. All aboard was scheduled for 7:30 pm and at 8:00 pm we set sail for our next port, Bar Harbor, Main (168 nautical miles away).