Review and Visitor Information
CSS Acadia is part of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and is berthed across from the main building of the museum. This complex is along the Harbourwalk, the pedestrian path which connects downtown Halifax to the cruise port.
Admission to Acadia is included in the price of admission to the museum. Or for a few dollars, you can just visit the Acadia.
Acadia is open to visitors from May to October. Visits are self-guided tours. Signs and diagrams are posted around the ship explaining its various features.
Since Acadia is not a very big ship, she can be explored in a relatively short time. When we visited only the top decks were open to view. The below deck space, which includes the quarters of the chief hyrdrographers' area as well as the engine room were closed for restoration work.
Although Acadia underwent many changes in her career of more than half a century, much of the original ship has survived. Indeed, the overall feel is that of an early 20th century steamship. Consequently, if you have ever wondered what it was like on Titanic and the other famous liners of that period, Acadia gives a glimpse.
One striking aspect of Acadia's open decks is the vestiges of the days of sail. Steam powered ships had only come into widespread use in the half century before Acadia was built and ship design still retained some sailing ship features. Although used primarily for communication rather than for carrying sail, her two towering masts give her a silhouette reminiscent of sailing ships. Also, Acadia has an auxiliary steering wheel near the stern in a location that corresponds to where the wheel would have been located on a sailing ship.
There are also features that were innovations when Acadia was built but which now have all but disappeared from modern ships. The extensive wire rigging that supports the masts and the funnel is an example. The ventilation scoops, which could be turned so as to funnel the wind below decks, have been rendered obsolete by air conditioning. On the open-air navigation bridge, the telegraph and the speaking tubes used for communication to the wheelhouse and the engine room are now only seen in movies. Riveted hulls like Acadia's have been replaced by welded plates on modern ships.
Another interesting aspect is the extensive use of wood. Acadia was built to be a government ship but she is far from spartan. Yet, the interior is full of luxurious mahogany and oak paneling. On the open deck, not only are the decks teak but there has been extensive use of wood trim, some of which is carved with designs.
Yet, Acadia was also a rugged ship. As noted above, her service career lasted some 56 years, much of which was spent in Arctic waters and some of which included service in two World Wars. The only conclusion that can be drawn from those facts is that she was well-built.
Acadia represents a chapter in maritime history that is difficult to experience elsewhere. She was a product of the era in which modern ship design was just coming into its own. There have been many changes since then but it is interesting to see where we have been.
Cruise destination - Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada - Visiting CSS Acadia - page three