Friday, July 10, 2009

Saint John New Brunswick - Fundy Coast to Fundy Shore Tour

Before the cruise, I looked for the best way to see Saint John/St. Martin, New Brunswick, Canada and the Sea Caves. I had read about the ship excursion buses arriving later than the private tours. And in St.Martin, if you arrive even a few minutes later, with the tide schedule, you could entirely miss the chance to go into the sea caves. So, we booked a shore excursion called "Fundy Coast to the Fundy Shore" with Freedom Tours.

We were scheduled to dock and be off the ship by 9:30am....but the ship wasn't cleared until 10:30. God bless their souls, our Freedom Tours tour guides were there waiting for us with a smile on their face. {Note: For parents of children 5 and under, if you are unable to bring a car seat, Freedom Tours will provide one for you. Just have them note it on your reservation. The cars were 8 passenger mini vans}

The terminal at Saint John is brand new so we were the first guests to arrive at the terminal. Each lady was handed a rose. Each gentleman a pin. And each child a Canadian flag. Volunteers in Saint John started this tradition 10 years ago and do it for every passenger that disembarks in Saint John.

Since we were late, the guides took us straight to St. Martin (an hour away) on a scenic coastal highway. Let me tell you - this area is GORGEOUS! The Sea Caves....

So we arrive at the St. Martin Sea Caves and our guide Peter (a fabulous gentleman) tells us that we will only have a few minutes until the tide rises too high to safely get across to the caves. We put on our water shoes {don't forget those} and make the trek across the rocky beach. If you have ANY problems with mobility, this is not the tour for you. The rocks are very difficult to walk on, they slide under your feet. Very different from walking on sand. Right next to the caves was a SMALL stream of water, about an inch deep, but VERY cold. Peter said that the Bay is always a steady 30-32 degrees. We had to walk across this cold water (about 10 feet wide) to get to the caves. Once over there, we had about 5 minutes to get our pictures and get back across.

One member of our group, decided to try to make it into the 2 sea cave (there are 3). The guides were telling him to come back. This person decided to ignore the guides just to get a shot of the 2nd cave because, come on, it's just an inch or 2 of water. Within minutes, the guides were yelling "We hope you can swim!" - the water had risen a lot in just a few minutes {see below, just 10 minutes later} But we all made it back safely from the caves. And we were able to get some great pictures.

Peter also told my girls some local lore - if you find a rock with another rock layer the whole way through and it created a complete circle through the rock, then you will have luck with the boys (god help me). And if it has 2 layers, then 2 boys will be fighting over you. I think my kids carted back 50lbs of rock in their pockets, I kid you not. Every time we stopped, Peter would secretly throw one or two rocks out of the mini van. Smart guy!

So one thing not to miss is a bowl of the "World Famous Seafood Chowder" at The Caves Restaurant. {I think it started at $7.99/cup} but my oldest declared it - the WORLD'S BEST.

By the time our chowder arrived, so did the Carnival buses, TWO of them. They walked off the bus, and went right into the restaurant for their bowl of chowder. They missed the opportunity to go into the sea caves because they arrived so late. I was VERY happy that we had booked the private tour.

On our way back to Saint John...We stopped at a lighthouse "Visitor Center" - those stairs were SCARY. Peter took both kids up because there was no way I was able to do it.

And stopped to check out the covered bridges.

And since we had the kids, Bill and Peter decided to veer off from the other group and take us to a Mini Horse Farm (a B&B) in St. Martin. My youngest was so tickled by the chicken at this farm - the chicken's name was "Chicken Little". And every time my daughter talked to the chicken it would say "Booooooock" almost to answer her.

This is reversing falls, not much to see, but still pretty interesting. The water runs backwards certain times each day.
And I can say that we don't have these signs in Pennsylvania....MOOSE CROSSING! And yes, our guides were trying to spot some moose for us, what a sight that would have been...

At the end of our tour, Peter and Bill took us to the Marketplace for some shopping. And then it was back to the ship. I have to say, our tour in Saint John/St.Martin and the wonderful people we met on this excursion was the highlight of our cruise. I can't recommend this tour company enough. For a family, they are the perfect option.

No Rubber Shark Abuse Allowed on Carnival Triumph

So I guess after my review on Cruise Critic, the "rubber shark" story has become infamous. So I figured I would retell it here.....

My daughters and I went on a girls only trip celebrating the end of the school year. We decided to do Carnival Triumph out of New York City - a nice little drive, no need for airfare.

This would be our 3rd Carnival Cruise. So we are no strangers to Camp Carnival. Formal Night - the kids beg to go to the "Camp Formal Dinner" I go to the camp and explain at each drop off that my girls will want to sit together because when the Little Sis sees the Big Sis, she is going to want to eat with her. "NO PROBLEM" was the answer from each counselor. And it wasn't a problem on the other CARNIVAL ships. So I follow the kids groups to the Lido deck, see that my kids find each other and hug each other, I turn to go to meet some people for dinner. I guess after I walked away, the counselors came and told my youngest to go sit with her own group. She cried. They said she couldn't sit with my oldest. So she was upset. But she calmed down.

By 8pm, I was waiting in the dining room lobby with friends to attend Late Seating dinner when my Camp Carnival phone rang. They said that my daughter was "Hitting other children with a toy" - Mortified, I excuse myself and go running to Camp Carnival. I see her playing kitchen with another little girl -- no problem. I tell them who I am and ask "She is hitting the kids with toys????" The response - "ohhh noo noo noo, she took this rubber shark and hit that metal pole. She did it a few times, we told her not to, she did it again, so we called you"

A rubber shark? Seriously?

They couldn't handle a 5 year old with a rubber shark? The counselor said "Well she doesn't have to leave but you have to talk to her" Well since I was now very late for dinner, I just took her with me and we headed back to the cabin, where we ate ham and cheese sandwiches. So if your kids are preschoolers, be sure you talk to them about the dangers of abusing the rubber shark on Triumph. ;)