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Saint John, New Brunswick Itinerary Help, Please

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Malibu, California
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Saint John, New Brunswick Itinerary Help, Please

We are taking the fall foliage cruise on the Crystal Symphony next year. After much deliberation, we have put together a plan for our day in Saint John next October. Please advise! I welcome all kind tips and recommendations. I realize that the tripadvisor forum is not specifically cruise passengers, and my questions are definitely cruise oriented, but please help as best you can. I thought that I might still find some experienced cruisers here as well.

Our plan is to rent a car and drive to St. Martins to see the caves, visit the village of St. Martins, have the "world famous clam chowder" at the Cave View Family Restaurant, and drive the Fundy Trail Parkway. Crystal offered a shore excursion this year to St. Martins (which they will likely offer again next year), but it did not include the Fundy Trail Parkway, and it seems that we are so close to it in St. Martins, that it is not to be missed. Here are my questions:

1. Has anyone taken the Crystal shore excursion or any other ship excursion to St. Martins? What did you think? Is the "world famous clam chowder," really that good, or is it over-hyped? Is St. Martins the best use of our time (as opposed to staying within the city of Saint John?)

2. Has anyone driven the Fundy Trail Parkway? Your impressions and recommendations?

3. Has anyone rented a car and driven this route that I am proposing? My research revealed that Enterprise is located at 132 Station Street, and Avis is located at 4 Water Street. I think that Avis is closer to where the ship docks, correct? Has anyone rented from Avis or Enterprise in Saint John? Can I arrange for them to meet us at the ship with the rental car, or do I need to go to them? Are the cars located at these addresses on Station Street (Enterprise) and Water Street (Avis), or do we need to go somewhere else to pick up the car? Can we drop the car at the pier before re-boarding the Symphony, or do we return the car to the same location where we picked it up?

4. My research indicates that Crystal docks at either Long Wharf or Pugsley. Is this correct? It is a "docking" port, not a "tender" port, correct?

5. I have considered the possibility of driving all the way to Hopewell Rocks, but I'm afraid that I will not get back on time. I would HATE to miss the ship! Has anyone gone this far? And made it back on time?! We are docked from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

I have considered hiring a private guide, but I don't think it's necessary. Besides, most of the guides require a minimum of 4 passengers, and we are only 2. We prefer to pair up with others only if we know them prior to the tour -- if others prefer to go at a much slower (or faster) pace, for example, then it could be problematic. I love being with fellow passengers on the cruise, but I'm always a little nervous about pairing up for private tours pre-cruise without our knowing each other well. So, we are only 2 passengers for the private guide. Those that will take only 2 charge so much, that it would be much, much cheaper to take a Crystal excursion. However, we prefer to stay away from the large number of passengers on a ship excursion, which is why I concluded that renting a car would be our best plan. Being that it's Canada, and not CHINA, my husband is convinced that driving on our own will be easy. Please give me your advice.

Thanks!

Shelley

Malibu, California
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1. Re: Saint John, New Brunswick Itinerary Help, Please

Oops! One more thing to add. I just checked the tide levels for October 6, 2010, the day we will be in Saint John, and the tables looked like this. At 4:40, the level is .5 meters (1.6 feet). At 10:50, the level is 8.3 meters (27.2 feet). At 17:08, the level is .3 meters (1 foot). At 23:17, the level is 8.3 meters (27.2 feet). Does this mean that I will need to be at the St. Martins caves by 4:40 a.m. or 5:08 p.m. in order to see the caves at low tide? My ship doesn't dock until 9:00 a.m. and we must be back on board no later than 5:30 p.m. for a 6:00 p.m. sailaway. Any suggestions?

Thanks,

Shelley

Saint George, Canada
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2. Re: Saint John, New Brunswick Itinerary Help, Please

First off, yes, low tide will around 5:00pm. In answer to your other questions:

1. World famous clam chowder is over-hyped... I've never heard of it. I doubt that it is any better than New England Clam Chowder. St. Martins is likely not the best use of our time... if you driving, head west to St. Andrews! Its approx. 70 minutes west of Saint John and full of wonderful history. it's a well-known resort town and full of shops. A short drive up the river you can catch a glimpse of St. Croix Island... one of the earliest settlements in North America! Now that's something you can tell your friends. I'm sure you can find a nice cup of chowder too!

2. The Fundy Trail Parkway is a nice drive but if you're press on time, there are other options.

3. Avis is the closest rental location to the cruise ship terminal (walking distance) while the Enterprise location would likely require a taxi or a great pair of sneakers. I've rented from both locations and cars are located onsite. I am unsure about whether Enterprise can arrange a remote pick-up or drop-off but with the Avis location there would be no worry.

4. Yes, cruise ship will use either the Long Wharf or Pugsley Wharf. Both are dockings and not tendered ship-to-shore. Only if there are other cruise ship in port will they use the Long Wharf since the new terminal is located at Pugsley.

5. Hopewell Rocks? You could do it but what if you run into some trouble (your car breaks down)? The ship won't be waiting for anyone so it better to be safe than sorry. You can drive to the Rocks and back within 6 hours but it can be a gamble. Best time to be at the Rock is a low tide.

You are correct, driving in Canada is much the same as driving in Canada... just remember the speed limit is Km per hour and not miles. lol

Tel Aviv, Israel
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3. Re: Saint John, New Brunswick Itinerary Help, Please

Hi Shelly,

I have visited New Brunswick last fall, though I have arrived by car and by a cruise ship.

I have been to the Fundy Trail, but missed St. Martin's caves. Nonetheless, I assume you will need low tide to get there, which means something like an hour or an hour and a half around the time of the low tide. So practically this means in the afternoon for the day you are visiting (I assume early morning is impractical. Are you even at St. John at that time?).

The Fundy Trail is nice, and having done it, I believe it could be a day trip from St. John. Besides the driving, you can also do some walking. The length of the walks depend on you. Of course, you should hope for a nice weather. I caught rain for a part of my visit, and it was no fun.

Saint John itself offers a number of self guided walking tours. I spent a couple of hours walking around the city center. Since you are short in time, I would skip the Reversing Falls. You see the water going one way in low tide and the other way in high tide. I wasn't that impressed.

Regarding Hopewell Rocks - I would say this is not practical in your case.

To go down to the beach you need to be there around 15:45 - 16:00. They close at 17:00, and then you have to drive all the way back to Saint John, which take its time (the Hopewell Rocks are not on the Trans Canada highway. You have regular roads to drive part of the way, which is slower).

If I were you, I'd consider starting with Saint John in the morning, then driving to the Fundy Trail, perhaps make the St. Martin's caves (not sure when you could go down. You'll need to check with them) and then go back to Saint John to catch the boat.

4. Re: Saint John, New Brunswick Itinerary Help, Please

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