A cruise from Montreal to Boston offers fascinating history, whales, ‘left-handed’ lobsters and great ice cream

In 1759 British redcoats sailed along the St Lawrence River armed with cold steel and a determination to capture Quebec City from the French.

Following in their wake some 258 years later, I had a cold beer (on the way out, not at the dawn arrival!), was determined to capture some photos of Quebec City on my smartphone and I did have a red anorak in case of Canadian showers.

Although 4,400 British regulars ended France’s colonial interest in the New World on the Plains of Abraham on September 13, 1759, today Quebec City feels almost more French than France.

We got lucky by arriving on Holland America Line’s mid-sized cruise ship Veendam on an August Sunday to find a New France festival in full swing.

Holland America’s Veendam

The streets of the lovely old port were thronged with souvenir, food and drink stalls, tourists and locals dressed as early 18th century French colonists and soldiers, the atmosphere brim full of joie de vivre.

Like the redcoats’ General James Wolfe in 1759, we needed to ascend the cliffs of Cap Diamant to the city itself. His army scrambled up at night laden with full battle kit – we took the 1879 funicular for a couple of quid. At the top, there’s the lovely Place d’Armes (the red-roofed Auberge du Tresor’s terrace is a prime spot for a cafe au lait) and, unmissably as it dominates the skyline, the landmark 1893 Chateau Frontenac hotel.

Nigel at Chateau Frontenac

It’s said to be the most photographed hotel in the world and, on the assumption you’ll want to add to the that, head to the adjacent 1879 Terrace Dufferin boardwalk for the best shot.

Once you’ve nailed that pic, head under the terrace. Beneath it lies the remnants of the French and British colonial era Saint-Louis fort and châteaux, a national historic site ( pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/qc/saintlouisforts , free during 2017).

The entrance is near the hotel and there’s enough of the fire-hit building and its artefacts left to provide a…

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