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Poutine and Pipers Highlight Canada’s ‘On Location’

The “On Location” enrichment program on Canada and New England cruises is filled with local traditions and activities that immerse Holland America Line guests into the culture of the region.

From musicians to cuisine, guests get a feel for the country and its people through entertainment, dining and guest lecturers.

During Veendam’s recent call at Halifax, “Morning News Halifax” showcased the line’s “On Location” program by coming onboard to see the Highlander and piper from the Halifax Citadel. Keep watching through the news to around the 8.30 mark so see the segment on the ship.

The Halifax Citadel was completed in 1856 and is the fourth in a series of British forts on this site. Today, the restored Citadel is a national landmark, commemorating Halifax’s role as a key naval station in the British Empire and bringing history to life in Atlantic Canada’s largest urban center. After seeing the “On Location” program onboard, guests can visit the Citadel ashore during a call at Halifax.

In addition to performing in the ship's show lounger, the Halifax Citadel Highlander and piper enjoy chatting with guests while onboard.

In addition to performing in the ship’s show lounge, the Halifax Citadel Highlander and piper enjoy chatting with guests while onboard. Photo: Parks Canada Halifax Citadel National Historic Site.

The “On Location” program also showcases local cuisine, and one of the highlights of a Canada and New England cruise is the Poutine Par on the Lido Deck. Poutine is simply French fries, fresh cheese curds and brown gravy, and it’s become a guest favorite. On her Canada and New England cruise, Mariner Sharon Johnson enjoyed the tasty treat.

At noon at the Terrace Grill, everyone had an opportunity to try a very popular culinary dish from Quebec. The Poutine Bar was another “On Location” program that was being presented so that everyone could have a taste of Quebec. I was excited to check this out as I had just finished re-reading Canadian author Louise Penny’s novel “Bury Your Dead” set in Quebec City. The Chief Inspector in the story orders some poutine at one of the restaurants in the old town. I had never heard of poutine and didn’t think I would like it when I read that poutine is French-fried potatoes and cheese curds topped with beef gravy. I thoroughly enjoyed it, as did one of the Maasdam entertainers who I photographed earlier putting gravy on his poutine at the Poutine Bar. So next time you spot the Poutine Bar in a HAL ship, be sure to sample it for lunch. — Sharon

Sharon and the Poutine Bar on deck.

Sharon at the Poutine Bar on deck.

Another favorite culinary extravaganza with the “On Location” program is the Fiddling Flapjack Breakfast on deck that serves up delicious flapjacks with Canadian maple syrup. So where does the “Fiddling” come in, you ask? During your meal, local fiddlers performs for guests providing exceptional background music.

Fiddlers perform for guests during the Fiddling Breakfast.

Fiddlers perform for guests during the Fiddling Flapjack Breakfast.

The fiddle performances continue in the evenings at the main show lounge, where the fiddler, pianist and bagpiper take to the stage together to perform for guests in the larger venue. The fiddler also shows off her stepdancing skills.


For guests looking to dine ashore in Canada but who might not know where to go, Holland America Line and Taste of Nova Scotia have partnered to feature shoreside dining suggestions as part of “On Location.” Featured in the Halifax Port Guide delivered to each cabin, guests can safely choose one of the recommended restaurants and know they’re going to get a first-class meal.

Becoming a Taste of Nova Scotia member is no easy task, and it’s an honor to make the cut. They currently have 82 restaurant members. To be a restaurant member, establishments must demonstrate a commitment to sourcing and showcasing local products, and also demonstrate a commitment to quality culinary experiences.

All members of Taste of Nova Scotia have to apply for membership with the organization and are presented to the board of directors who vote on final approval. Taste of Nova Scotia has more than 140 members who set and maintain the Taste of Nova Scotia quality standards for food, service and hospitality. They include producers, processors and an outstanding collection of restaurants. So guests can be assured that when they choose one of the recommended restaurants, they’re in for an outstanding local meal.

Tempo Food + Drink, top two photos, and Harbour City Bar & Grill  are two of the featured Taste of Nova Scotia restaurants.

Tempo Food + Drink, top two photos, and Harbour City Bar & Grill are two of the featured Taste of Nova Scotia restaurants. Photos courtesy Taste of Nova Scotia.

What’s your favorite part of the “On Location” program? Do you like the local entertainment or cuisine? Tell us in the comments below.

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