Prince William and Kate stepped onto HMCS Montreal late Saturday for an overnight trip to Quebec City along the St. Lawrence River, following a packed day that saw the couple face the first protests of their three-day-old Canadian tour.

While the couple visited with sick children at a Montreal hospital and spent some time cooking delicacies at a local culinary school, the royals had to contend with a small but boisterous group of demonstrators at two stops.

First, a few dozen demonstrators gathered at the Sainte-Justine hospital to voice their disdain of the royals, holding up signs -- in both French and English -- referring to the couple as "parasites."

While the protestors were far outnumbered by fans, a strong police presence was nevertheless at the hospital, said CTV's Genevieve Beauchemin.

"Police were not taking any chances of course," she said, adding that the anti-royals group had been planning the rally for days.

Beauchemin suggested that the demonstrations scuttled the likelihood that the royals would greet members of the crowd up-close.

"There's not a lot of that planned here," she said, noting that some people travelled from Toronto and other cities to catch a glimpse of the couple.

At the hospital, the royals spent some one-on-one time with children in the centre's pediatric cancer-care program.

Later, the newlyweds were whisked away to the Quebec Tourism and Hotel Institute, where foie gras with toasted brioche and Charlevoix lamb was on the royal menu.

At that stop, there was a louder crowd of demonstrators, some of whom yelled out crude insults about the monarchy.

One male demonstrator who was on a balcony earned cheers as he shouted: "Vive le Quebec libre!"

While there was plenty of yelling outside the cooking school, inside the couple were instructed on how to cook lobster soufflé, along with other delicacies.

The royals were accompanied by Quebec Premier Jean Charest and his wife Michele.

The royal couple arrives in Quebec City on Sunday by boat and will wrap up the two-day visit to the province with a host of activities.

Couple pays homage to veterans

Earlier in the day, the Will and Kate paid tribute to the nation's war veterans with a visit to the Canadian War Museum, where they met with veterans and war brides spanning several generations.

The couple was at the museum to help unveil a 40-foot wide painting titled "The Canadian Opposite Lens" which depicts soldiers on Vimy Ridge against a chaotic backdrop of trucks and bursting shells.

"This impressive work of art, with connections to Canada and Great Britain, portrays part of the experience which helped define Canada as a nation during the First World War," the president of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation Mark O'Neill said in a statement released ahead of the ceremony.

The painting was intended to be the centrepiece for a Canadian war memorial art gallery that was never built. Instead, the piece sat in John's studio in London, England where he worked on it sporadically until his death.

While moving through the museum, the Duchess of Cambridge continued to impress royal watchers with grace and elegance.

Standing in front of an unfinished painting by celebrated Welsh artist Augustus John in Ottawa, Kate demonstrated an ease with officials and regular Canadians at the Canadian War Museum, royal watcher Bonnie Brownlee told CTV News Channel on Saturday.

"It's almost as if she was born to be living the life that she lives right now," she said.

Tour a "phenomenal" success

Although Will and Kate are less than halfway through their nine day Canadian tour, many are already calling the royal visit a success.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are relatable and have a natural charm about them, royal watcher Yvonne Yorke told CTV News Channel on Saturday.

"This tour is a phenomenal success and everybody had expected it to be," the award-winning contributor for the Huffington Post said.

Yorke, who also writes for the BBC, said the tour is a sign of things to come from the Royal family.

Britain's first family is cognizant that they need to update their image and appear more accessible and relevant to the younger generation, Yorke said.

"With the Queen, who is 85-years-old now, she really, for her jubilee year next year wants to introduce more and more members of her family, the younger generation."

And with Kate already winning the hearts of royal watchers and fashionistas from around the world, the task may already be a done deal.

On Friday, the Duchess was praised for her fashion choice. She wore a patriotic ensemble, stepping out on Parliament Hills wearing a Maple Leaf fascinator and a cream-coloured suit.

"We're seeing the emergence of a young Duchess who is very powerful without saying a word. It's all in her symbolic gestures," royal watcher Bonnie Brownlee told CTV News Channel on Saturday.

And all eyes were on Kate's wardrobe again as the royal couple kicked off day three of the tour with a visit to Rideau Hall, where they planted a tree in the royal grove on the grounds of the governor general's residence.

The Duke and Duchess planted a Canadian hemlock, a tree with an 800 year lifespan.

Kate wore a grey Kensington dress from the U.K. label Catherine Walker. The label had been a favourite of Princess Diana, who was buried in a black Walker dress.

Brownlee said Kate's choice was "risque" given the outfit's low-cut back.

"It's her own personal style that is developing," Brownlee said. "I think she is getting a little more risqué in her outfits but they are feminine and soft."

While at Rideau Hall, the Duke and Duchess also took the time to greet guests invited to the event including couples celebrating their 50th and 60th wedding anniversaries; and a terminally-ill patient in a wheelchair who had requested to meet the couple.

Speaking with terminally-ill patients is not easy, Brownlee said, but "you have to remember too that William spent a lot of time with his mother and AIDS patients, some that were losing their lives at the time so he'd be somewhat accustomed to it."