29 Months

November 1st, 2019: The last time tourists stepped off a cruise ship to visit the cobbled, historic streets of the Vieille Capitale.

Fast-forward 29 months. Fast-forward through the appearance of a new and unpredictable virus, and its many variants. Through months of social distancing and confinement. Through the fits and starts of repeated attempts to deconfine and reopen. Fast-forward to April 26, 2022: the cruise ships have returned to Québec City. At around 7:30 this morning, the Viking Octantis, a freshly minted Polar Class 6 expedition ship, pulled up to Wharf 21 under an overcast sky and the expectant gaze of the entire Québec City tourism industry.

A few hundred tourists stepped off the boat in the morning drizzle, and 15 of them accompanied me for a three-hour walking tour of the Old City. They were a delightful bunch, hailing from all over the United States: Arizona, Virginia, Ohio, Missouri, Colorado, and Washington State. And they were tickled to see how excited I was to see them. From their point of view, their visit chez nous is day X of their spring cruise. From my point of view, and from that of my Québec City tour guide friends, it is day 905, the end of a two-and-a-half-year shut down. Needless to say, their arrival here is a huge relief for my colleagues and me.

We started in the Lower Town, of course, visiting Place royale and Petit Champlain. Then we took the funicular to the Upper Town. There, we did the Dufferin Terrace, the Governors’ Garden, Place d’armes, and City Hall Square. It’s a tour I’ve given a thousand times. But today, despite the rain, it felt like the sun was shining after a two-and-a-half-year absence.

32 thoughts on “29 Months”

  1. Une journée fabuleuse et tant attendue! Je suis si fébrile à l’idée de bientôt faire ces tours avec les croisiéristes!

    1. So happy for you Neil and also for all those guides who “suffered” in the last 29 months.

      I missed you! I was also under the rain this morning! But so happy to guide a very nice and cool group of teenagers!

      Have a great season!

  2. I remember well our tour with you in late October 2017. Also a gray and drizzly day, but still absolutely enchanting. So happy for you today, and for all the lucky tourists who got to have the same enriching experience.
    May there be many many more!

  3. there is a rainbow after all, we need to be resilient and that, is a certainty. Glad we are back in the “swing of things”

  4. So pleased to learn that interested people can once again visit your beautiful city! Here’s hoping that those visitors brought a lot of cash and credit card capacity to jump start your city’s tourism economy.

  5. Congratulations! They were so lucky to have you. I was on your tour last in August 2018, I was just talking about it last weekend and then I got your email.

  6. Dear Neil,

    As 2 of the 14 lucky traveling tourists from Xenia, Ohio, traveling on the Viking Octantis, that had the unique pleasure of being a part of your outstanding city tour and explanation of Québec’s history, my wife and I want to personally say that your 3 hour walking city tour was the ‘BEST’ we have encountered in the many walking tours. Your passion and attention to the Québec’s rich history and blending it with the current state was an excellent balance for the short time we had together. My wife and I found ourselves discussing much of what you had covered many hours after the tour ended as we met with local merchants and visited the local shoppes. It was wonderful to be able to travel again and be a part of one of the first ships to visit Québec City. Let’s return to normal, so we can learn about the past from scholars like you.

    My wife and I definitely plan to return to this great city sometime in the future and hopefully can connect with you again for a longer personalized ‘Deuxième partie de la tournée’ .

    Thank you again for opening our eyes and ears after such a long hibernation avoiding the pandemic.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Kurt! I am glad you enjoyed your tour! I hope you can come back sooner rather than later. And with some luck, it won’t be raining!

  7. Fran and John Razmus

    My husband and I, two of the visitors from Arizona who were on your tour totally agree with everything that fellow passenger Kurt Sanders said about the tour. We enjoyed your tour immensely and gave it high marks in our review. Your enthusiasm about everything Quebec is infectious and we hope to return in the near future.

  8. As another two of your group of fourteen, the Virginians also wish to thank you for your marvelous 3 hour tour of Quebec City. Your passion and enthusiasm were evident throughout our walk, and we have a new understanding and appreciation for this lovely city. Merci beaucoup! – Howard & Kathy Lincoln, Burke, Virginia, USA

    Comme deux autres de votre groupe de quatorze, les Virginiens souhaitent également vous remercier pour votre merveilleuse visite de 3 heures de la ville de Québec. Votre passion et votre enthousiasme étaient évidents tout au long de notre promenade, et nous avons une nouvelle compréhension et appréciation de cette belle ville. Merci beaucoup! – Howard & Kathy Lincoln, Burke, Virginie, États-Unis

      1. Howard Lincoln

        Neil, I must confess… French is courtesy of Google Translate! Again many thanks and kudos to Canada Parks and Simon. His presentation était incroyable!

  9. Margaret Hayward

    Thank you, Neil, for a simply wonderful walking tour. We’ve had bad weather throughout our cruise but yesterday was exquisite with just one patch of blue and an excellent guide. We will be back.

    Margaret H

  10. Margaret Hayward

    Oops, I forgot to mention Simon, our Parc Service guide! The perfect complement to your tour.

    Margaret and Brian H,

  11. As another two of your group of fourteen, the Virginians also wish to thank you for your marvelous 3 hour tour of Quebec City. Your passion and enthusiasm were evident throughout our walk, and we have a new understanding and appreciation for this lovely city. Merci beaucoup! – Howard & Kathy Lincoln, Burke, Virginia, USA

  12. Marc Lautenbacher

    Hi Neill,
    It looks like a coincidence of your article, because I’ve demanded the day before yesterday at Québec Port Authority my “Laisser-passer” to get access into the terminal where the cruising ships will arrive. At the same time, I’ve found a printed list in the entrance hall of the office of the Québec Port Authority. This shows us that at the present time they will have exactly NINTY-NINE crusade ships visits this year.
    In total, we are going to see 39 huge ships in Québec from all around the world. By the way: the biggest and largest one will come to us on September 29th: The Queen Mary II.
    Best regards,

  13. Colette Parayre

    De toute évidence, tu n’as rien perdu de ton enthousiasme, et les témoignages de ces clients en sont la preuve. Bravo Neil et je souhaite que tu reçoives des “tonnes” de demandes de tes compatriotes….et bravo pour ta nouvelle “fournée” de guides !
    Do those tourists know that they had the privilege of being welcomed by Quebec’s best guide, also our coach and teacher…..

    1. Howard Lincoln (one of the 14 from VA, USA)

      Colette, Oui, Neil was marvelous, and we knew from the very beginning of our tour we had someone very special, and truly appreciated his passion and enthusiasm for Quebec City!

  14. We were just talking about you a couple of days ago! So glad you have tours again! Your tour was the most memorable of many many tours from a lot of great vacations! I actually had tears in my eyes reading this! Best wishes for many many more tours!
    Patti & Jim Hughes

  15. Such exciting news, it must have been a great sight to see. Happy for you and your fellow guides and all the tourists!

  16. Therese Bianchi, Michigan

    Love to hear that things are returning to “normal” again, and glad to hear that Neil hasn’t lost his touch! I’m not surprised. It’s been many years since I toured with him, but I still look forward to his posts. Maybe someday I will return to Quebec City, but I, too, look forward to returning to travel and working off my backlog of planned trips. Welcome Back!

  17. Allo Neil ! Que tu résumes bien les choses ! Au plaisir de te croiser dans les rues de «notre» beau vieux Québec !

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