As if somebody had turned the switch. The moment we made the turn into the direction of Halifax sea buoy, the wind fell away and the sun came out with a glorious sunrise.
We were first at the pilot station and set for Pier 22. Behind us was the Norwegian Spirit who was scheduled for pier 21. That is the biggest passenger terminal, with the most shops and to keep those shopkeepers happy, they get the ship with the most guests on board. An un-expected guest was the Celebrity Constellation who had cancelled a port in Newfoundland also due to inclement the weather of yestereday and who came to Halifax instead. That ship arrived at 8 am at the pilot station an hour behind us. As she was not scheduled at all, she had to dock at a cargo pier.
This was the first time that I saw the ship with her new name, Celebrity Constellation. As part of a rebranding exercise, the cruise company is adding the prefix Celebrity to all their ships. Carnival is doing currently the same with the Fantasy class. They now also get the prefix Carnival which all of the newer ships already have. Costa has the same, Aida does the same, it seems to become a standard in the cruising business. NCL uses the prefix Norwegian, RCI the ending of the Seas and Cunard now names all their ships with a Queen prefix. Plenty of scope their for expansion as there are plenty of Queens in Englandâ€™s past. Holland America of course has the DAM ending, which we already have since 1873. Those guys 134 years ago where really ahead of their timeâ€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦.
So we docked starboard side alongside Pier 22 with the regular bag pipe band in attendance followed by the town crier in a wheel chair. In the past he would march behind the bag pipe band but lately he has been using a wheel chair. Although it is a pity that he has to use a wheel chair, it is quite funny to see him rolling behind the band towards the ship. The band marches up and down and he rolls behind them following the same route until they line up near the gangway. Then he gets up, rings his bell and makes his welcome announcement. When finished he takes off at high speed, to get to the next ship. Thus far he has always greeted a HAL ship first. Why I do not know but he seems to do that all the time, maybe he made a cruise with us.
The band is not that big, normally two or three pipers, one normal drum and the big one. On departure there is only one piper, to say farewell to the ship. As far as I understand the music, he/she plays one or two laments and then for the less cultivated members in the audience, a more understandable tune: Amazing Grace. The members of the band that does the playing belong to 78th Highlanders, Halifax Citadel Regimental Association. They have been welcoming the ships for as long as I have been coming to Halifax and probably before then.
Well, the weather certainly made up for the wind of yesterday and sail away took place in full sunshine against the back drop of downtown Halifax. The only one that was missing was Theodore Too, that special tugboat with the base ball cap on the funnel. In previous years the boat was always around, being sponsored by the port. This year, the pilot told me, there is no sponsorship so the boat only runs when it has a paying sightseeing tour. Which is a pity, as it was a great ambassador for Halifax. Tomorrow we are in Bar Harbor, dodging lobster pots.