When I was investigating the excursions for this cruise there appeared to be a lack of information so I will give a brief description of the ones I finally settled on with some of my personal observations. I do hope it is helpful for others attempting to make decisions on which excursion to try.
Boston - I did the 'Freedom Trail Walking Tour'. Overall this tour was informative and basically satisfied all that was advertised. The one concern I had was that there were not scheduled breaks where one could sit down with a cool drink or have a 'bio' break. We lucked out with a very warm sunny day - more than one short break would have been welcomed. I would have to say that this walking tour was not as good as others I have been on. I don't believe it was due to content. as Boston has lots of interesting history, but more on how it was delivered.
Portland - I finally settled on 'Best of Portland & Kennebunkport'. My expectations were quite low on this excursion based on some of the shared reviews on different sites but I found this excursion interesting & better than anticipated. It would have been nice not to have been as rushed in our time at Kennebunkport but essentially it covered all of the locations/points of interest advertised & was a nice glimse of Maine.
Saint John - Here I chose the 'St. Martin & The Bay of Fundy' tour. This was by far my favorite out of all that I chose & the key reason for that was the tour director. She was one of the best I have had in all of my travels to date. I was a little disappointed with the old market. While it was probably good if you wanted fresh fruit/veggies - I personally had anticipated more marketing of other items. I was more impressed with those very few vendors at St. Martins than those in the old Market. We were on time to see the reversing falls & on our way back we saw the normal flow of the river.... absolutely remarkable. We were unable to investigate the caves at the Bay of Fundy due to water level but no one seemed to notice as we were occupied trying to find our 'wishing' stones. Here we were treated to some of the best seafood chowder I have ever tasted - along with bisquits, drink & homemade cookies. A really nice touch.
Another nice touch by Saint John is the greeting of a rose for the ladies & a pin for the men. My rose charmed my cabin for the remainder of the cruise.
Note: there is a flea market right as soon as you are off the ship which had a good selection of articles.
Halifax - I chose not to do Peggy's Cove as I plan to do either a bus tour or a driving tour at some later date which will include Peggy's Cove. Here I selected the 'Nature & Whale Watch Cruise'. It was very cool out on the water & very disappointing as the only nature we saw were the Seagulls and a lobster that had been caught in the lobster trap. We did have a nice view of the coast line but nothing of what we had paid to see.
I did a fair bit of walking in Halifax after returning from the 'cruise'. I wanted to visit the Nova Scotia crystal factory which I had heard a lot about. So I do a walk on the 'board walk' which was near the ship terminal & quite interesting. There were a lot of things to see and it was a nice touch for touring.
Note: There was a flea market in the cruise terminal that had a good selection of items.
I enjoyed the cruise a lot & was not disappointed in any of the Ports. They were all new locations to me &, as always, time in port does not allow one to see everything - only a little 'taste' of what is there. I prefer doint the cruise line's excursions - while some find them more expensive that doing the booking on your own - I go for the convenience & the comfort that if we are late the ship will wait for us.
But each of us has our own reasons for what we choose & how we choose it - thats what makes us unique - right?