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.


kathi dunphy said...

We are glad you enjoyed the trip to Minihorse Farm! For an update on the chicken adventures please check out my blog...
We are turning over the idea of a childrens book, starring herself, Chicken Little, she is such a character. Happy cruising!

Brandy said...

Thanks for all the great tips! I popped over from Cruise Critic to read your review.