Category Archives: Travel

Review: Mariner Cruises- Whale & Seabird Tours

Mariner Cruises – Whale & Seabird Tours

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Back in May I entered a contest on facebook to win 10lbs of lobster and a whale watching package for 2.

I frequently enter contests and am always thrilled when I see trips available to be won. I love to explore and visit new places.

On June 1st I received an email asking if I had checked my facebook inbox. I was just getting up and had not. I was a bit worried as I thought perhaps it was a customer from my store RockabillySteam where I sell my handmade jewelry and perhaps a recent ordered had arrived broken (I always try to package things well, but, it can happen) or perhaps it was someone responding to a recent post and wanted to “yell” at me…LOL…that happens to.

Well, let me me tell you. The message that awaited me was completely the opposite!

I had a message from Amanda Graham (Penny Graham’s daughter) stating that I had won the contest!!

Having lived in Nova Scotia for most of my life (less 10 years spent in Calgary), and having never been whale watching, this was a dream come true! Yep, I started to cry. I felt so extremely blessed to have won such an amazing prize!

Amanda also offered to deliver the lobster to me and asked if I wanted it alive or cooked! I could not believe my good fortune! Being tight financially means that we have to be careful even with our gas in the car so driving to the island to pick up the lobster would not have been an option for us, so again, totally blessed!

Amanda who by the way is as sweet as pie delivered our lobster(cooked) about a week later. I really had no idea what 10lbs of lobster looked like so I was surprised at home many were in the box. We shared our good fortune with family and friends, whom were also very excited to be receiving some lobster for supper that day!

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Our kids had a blast helping daddy crack open the lobster.

We didn’t have a shell cracker on hand as there is rarely lobster in our house so, a hammer was used! LOL.

Our daughter kept pushing down on the lobster’s “butt” to make it move and was making it talk…slightly disturbing and funny at the same time.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better. Amanda sent me a message to say that her mom said that we could bring the kids along with us as well! They were so excited when I when i told them they could get to see some whales!

I was waiting to hear back about a day surgery appointment so I had to wait to book the trip. But, up until I had my date, all I could do was dream about this exciting adventure we were going to have!

I booked our trip a few weeks in advance, keeping an eye on the long term forecast…burt, low and behold, weather is fickle and changed for our trip date, which was Monday, July 20th. I found this out on Friday, July 17th in the morning. I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t think it would be a good idea with my health to be out on a boat in the rain with my surgery date so close.

So, I called their booking line: 1(800)239-2189 and was greeted by a super sweet and helpful lady (I wish I could remember her name to give her credit!) who booked us in a spot to stay that night and have our whale watching the next day!!!

What company is willing to cancel and re-book so quickly? Not many that I know of!

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So, we packed real quick and jumped in the car to head to Brier Island!

Our first stop was taking the ferry from East Ferry to Tiverton on Long Island.

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We did not have to wait very long which was great as there was nothing right there that would have kept the kids occupied for very long.

Luckily, Mugsy And Cupcake from Mugsy’s Adventures were with us to pass the time with a photo shoot!

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This ferry ride was quite short but the kids still enjoyed being able to get out of the car and take in the view!

We got off the ferry in Tiverton  and started to drive along Long Island to our next ferry to take us to Brier Island.

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We stopped briefly to take a picture of this “information center”  because my husband and I could not help but giggle at its name.

(My apologies to the residents, but, it is funny)

We did not go inside as we did not want to miss the next ferry.

We boarded the next ferry in Freeport where you will find Lavena’s Catch Cafe, which has amazing, fresh seafood dishes.

We boarded the ferry within about 10 minutes, catching the ferries is easy to do as long as you don’t stop anywhere in between, otherwise you might have a bit of a wait.

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View while crossing on the ferry.

When we got off the ferry, we turned left and not far down the road on our right was our check-in with Mariner Cruises.

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And of course the kids had to try out this whale bouncer which was way too small for them.

Inside we were greeted by a boy (and his sister). The little boy was collecting money for one of the lighthouses on Brier Island that was in need of repair. I dropped a toonie into his cup and he gave me a $2 picture he had drawn for my donation.

(And yes, I still have it!)

The lady behind the desk was the one that I had talked to on the phone and was so very helpful in getting us booked in on short notice. The little boy and girl in the shop were her niece and nephew.

The lady gave us a map of the island highlighted with things to see and do.

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We put this little map to great use during our visit!

 I really wish that I could remember her name. I do know however that she is a cousin to Penny – it is after all a family run business!

We were directed to The Bay of Fundy Inn just up the road.

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This inn is so amazing.

I cannot begin to tell you how much I fell in love with this place. It is romantic, rustic, antique and inviting.

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The kids did not hesitate to make themselves comfy on our bed!

Not really grumpy, they were been stinkers and acting up for the camera!

Not really grumpy, they were been stinkers and acting up for the camera!

This bed was diving to sleep in. So comfy with lovely plush pillows! So much better that the springy, lumpy bed at home!

It was suppertime so we headed out and find somewhere to eat. We drove right past the little cafe and ended up at a little look off, so we decided to get out to have a better look at the lighthouse we saw from the ferry.

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Lighthouse Cafe

Lighthouse Cafe

We went into the Lighthouse Cafe for our meal.

Yummy!

Yummy!

Not only was the food good but they had games to play while you were waiting for your food to be cooked.

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The kids kicked my butt at tic-tac-toe.

After supper was finished and our bellies were full we headed out for a drive to check out another lighthouse on the island.

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After we left the lighthouse we stopped to search the beach for beach glass.

One of our favorite things to do!

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This island has so much beauty and character I could not stop taking pictures.

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After we had collected an obscene amount of beach glass (residents and business owners throw glass onto the beach to create beach glass, so make sure you’re wearing protective footwear!) and left an obscene amount of beach glass there, we decided to take a drive and check out one more lighthouse on the island.

Located in Brier Island Nature Preserve, this lighthouse was my favorite.

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We headed back to the inn where we finally got to meet Penny Graham, owner of Mariner Cruises and the Bay of Fundy Inn. I instantly fell in love with Penny. She is sweet, funny, down to earth and definitely makes you feel at home.

She got us all settled in and it was finally time to get comfy in bed, tomorrow was going to be a busy day!

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We awoke the next morning to a continental breakfast, there was a wide assortment of fruit, bread service and yogurt available.

I was a bit worried at first as there was no option of white bread and that is all the kids eat. However, I was pleasantly surprised when they chose whole wheat english muffins with peanut butter!

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Penny came in and I chatted with her while the kids played in the playroom and Shaun(my husband) packed up the car.

The Bay of Fundy Inn is currently up for sale. So, if you are looking to own a big historic house or to run your own island inn, this would be the perfect place! You can view more photos at ChaosAndSilence on facebook.

We drove back to the Grand Passage Lighthouse and hiked a trail along the coast to go see the seals. This was quite the adventure for us!

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We only had to hike a few minutes before we spotted seal heads in the distance!

To the right of the rock in the water you can see some seal heads!

To the right of the rock in the water you can see some seal heads!

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Seals on the rock and seals in the water!

Seals on the rock and seals in the water!

Hubby....thrill seeker...LoL

Hubby….the thrill seeker…LoL

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We soon ran out of time for exploring and we headed off to grab a quick bite to eat and then head to whale watching!!

IMG_20150718_122943[1]  We couldn’t get a seat together on the boat, but, that’s okay, in the end we had a great spot along the side for viewing.

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Penny is very knowledgeable. Her family has been doing this since 1994. She gave us lots of information about the whales and birds and interacted with everyone aboard.

Took us about 10-20 minutes to get out far enough to see our first whale (I’m guessing because really it didn’t seem that long). This first whale had no interest in being viewed so we moved on to find more. We spotted a seal, harbour porpoise and birds on the way out as well!

It seemed like maybe we were not going to get to see any whales….but then….

Then we struck gold!

“I see something!”

We were delighted to come across  mama and baby humpback whales.

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The baby interacted with us a few times, flipping onto his back and splashing. It was so amazing to see them!

I have to be honest and say I cried. Being able to view these creatures in their natural habitat is such an incredibly wonderful experience.

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Mugsy came along too!

Mugsy came along too!

Hot chco

Hot chocolate served on the way back to dock!

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I want to say thank you to Penny Graham for not only hosting the contest and choosing my name, but, more importantly, for allowing our children to come with us. I know this is an experience they will remember always!

Thank you for being so kind and helping me live my dream of going whale watching it was truly a vacation I will never forget!

Thank you to Amanda Graham who brought me our cooked lobster and continues to be a part of our lives via facebook. I truly hope to see you again!

Thank you to all the staff who were a part of our visit at our many stops. We are grateful to have met you all!

If you get the chance to go whale watching, I highly recommend that you choose to go with Penny and Mariner Cruises, you will come away with a truly memorable experience!

* Note to those of you considering whale watching: they said it would be cold……that was definitely an understatement. Definitely bring some little mitts and wear warm clothing, it felt like it was -10 degrees celcius! This would be my only complaint of the whole trip. I usually wear a hoodie all winter so I did not consider how cold being on the water (or going from warm to cold) would actually be, so I was dressed with a thin hoodie and survived, but the kids were FROZEN. The hot chocolate definitely helped on the trip back to dock!

**We received 10lbs lobster, 1 night stay at the Bay of Fundy Inn and a whale watching tour for free. All opinions expressed in this blog post are 100% mine and true.

Here is a youtube video I found about Brier Island. Penny is featured in it! 🙂

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