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.