Is This Mecca for a Phone Company Retiree?

  • Day 4, Voyage of the Vikings 2019
  • Friday, Aug. 2, Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada

I couldn’t come to Cape Breton and not visit the Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Baddeck. Bell System blood runs deep in my family. Our father spent his career at Southwestern Bell. My sisters and I all worked for the company during college summers.

After several years as a newspaper reporter and editor I joined AT&T Long Lines just before divestiture and stayed until just before SBC and AT&T merged. It was quite a ride. And AGB would never have imagined what the future held.

Bell was quite an inventor, as the museum illustrated. His last years were spent focusing on aviation, and his team invented key systems critical to early flight. The passion that ran through his life was his devotion to the deaf and hearing-impaired communities. Along the way, he helped to establish the publication Science, was the second president of the National Geographic Society and a regent of the Smithsonian Institution.

The museum is in the charming town of Baddeck, about an hour’s drive from Sydney, Nova Scotia, where we docked. A large lake fills much of the interior of Cape Breton, and forests of firs, pines, maples and birches covered much of the landscape along our route. I’ll be adding this to the list of places where I could easily spend a few months (in the summer, that is).

Back at the pier after the trip, we joined the throng taking selfies in front of the world’s largest fiddle erected to commemorate the Celtic festival held every fall. Local arts and craft booths filled the port building, where we saw the beautiful handmade projects that must fill long winter days.

By late afternoon I was in the crowded Crow’s Nest for happy hour. The ship didn’t officially mark the sail away with a celebration, but that didn’t stop us. Latecomers were hard pressed to find a seat.

Before we left, the captain announced a change in our itinerary. On Aug. 7 and Aug. 27 we will swap stops in Qaqortoq and Nanortalik, Greenland. Apparently there are too many ships scheduled for Qaqortoq on Aug. 7. Both are small communities where we will explore the towns on foot, so the change shouldn’t have much effect.

Sydney is the first of three consecutive port days in the Canadian Maritimes. This trip seems port-heavy to me, although some passengers wonder what they will do on our 15 sea days. I cherish my days at sea. While I love to visit new places, somehow I end up on board with a list of projects to tackle and books to read. A string of port days challenges me to not fall behind on my blog, for example.

Yesterday was our first sea day. At mid morning our Cruise Critic roll call group filled the Billboard Bar and spilled over. As I have written before, Cruise Critic is a website owned by Trip Advisor. Among its features is a robust forum section where people post on virtually any cruise topic. Within that is the Roll Call with threads for specific sailings.

The thread for our cruise topped 2,500 posts by the time we left. We used the site to meet fellow cruisers, organize independent tours and shipboard interest groups such as photography, mah jongg and knitting, and plan a couple of these “meet and greets.” We finally put faces with names. Following our reception was a cabin crawl, in which people opened their cabins for others to see. Of course everyone wants to see the biggest suites. We offered up our inside cabin configured for three, but somehow it didn’t make the list. Oh well, I’m not sure anyone would have been impressed, except maybe that we sisters agreed to share it.

The morning ended with another reception, this one sponsored by our travel agency, Cruise Specialists. They provide some nice extras for their clients, including a host couple on this cruise. Steve and Wendy have been on nine previous Voyages of the Vikings, so they are a wealth of information. They will escort the private tours the agency offers and be available to help with anything we need. I enjoyed seeing several more people I know from previous cruises.