Trip Review - Canadian Maritimes
This review is for a trip that took place 9/12/21-9/24/21. I won't touch on the COVID requirements, since the tours are almost done for the year. The only time I will mention them here is when they impacted the tour experience.
This was a pleasant tour, but not a spectacular one. There are no bucket list sights, unless you're a fanatic Anne of Green Gables enthusiast. The scenery is mostly reminiscent of Maine, with lots of dense forest, rolling hills and mountains, and a rugged coastline. New Brunswick is generally flatter and more farmland than forest. Lots of interesting info from the TD and local guides. History - the area was the earliest British settlement in North America. Lunenburg is full of 17th and 18th century houses. Cultures - Scots Gaelic, indigenous and Acadian (Cajun) cultures all play a large role in this area with each retaining some native speakers. Natural History - The area has unique geology and the largest tides in the world in the Bay of Fundy. Lots of wildlife - we say many birds of prey including Bald Eagles, but didn't see any moose (you may be luckier).
The hotels were generally comfortable at the rooms fairly spacious. None were particularly luxurious. The Prince George in Hailfax was very nice, but there was some music outside that carried into the rooms. It ended by about 10pm, though. The Keltic Lodge is in a gorgeous setting, but the rooms were average for the tour. The Delta hotels have streaming access to Prime Video and Netflix built into their TVs. You have to use your own login credentials so make sure you have yours if you want to use this (the credentials are automatically cleared on checkout or you can manually delete them).
Lots of opportunity for seafood lovers. Lobster, mussels, and scallops are all local products and are generally excellent. Cod, salmon, haddock and halibut were also available. You'll get get at least two lobster meals, so don't overdo the lobster early. The lobsters on the "lobster cruise" were very good. However, the following night we got dinner at the "New Glasgow Lobster Supper" restaurant. Crowded, poor service and cramped tables with mediocre lobster. I hope they drop this from the tour, it wasn't very good and two lobster meals in two days is ridiculous. They should let you eat on your own in Charlottetown, instead. Other meals were generally good with the hotel restaurant in Moncton being excellent. The lunch stop on the way to the Linscomb Lodge also made a great salmon with a maple Dijon mustard glaze - yummy! Ice cream lovers will want to stop at COWs in Halifax or Charlottetown. On the Tauck top 10 list of ice cream vendors - I recommend the "Mooey Gooey." Some restaurants were short handed and slow service was sometimes a problem. Some of this can be attributed to COVID, but I think the Keltic Lodge probably has an ongoing problem with this. One meal there took an hour to get the first course and three hours total.
The weather forecast when we left was for showers every day of the trip but one. We actually got no rain, except a night or two while we were sleeping. We had lots of sunny days (definitely not the normal for this area). The weather changes quickly and you need to have a good rain jacket (although we didn't need it). Waterproof shoes are also a good idea. We had highs in the high 60s to mid 70s. The leaves were just staring to change when we left. Peak color was probably two weeks away. The final tours at the end of September are probably the best bet of fall color, but I'm sure it varies from year to year. Check the weather forecast before you leave, but expect it to change.
The sights were generally as listed in the itinerary, with the usual Tauck lagniappe. I won't spoil the surprise, but it was just a "that's nice" experience, not an OMG. The immigration museum in Halifax was disappointing. It was nicely done, but just not that interesting. You may want to skip it and meet up with the tour bus afterwards. The Anne of Green Gables house was mildly interesting, but I was expecting more of a guided experience. It may be better when there isn't a pandemic. The house has a modern visitor center at the entrance which is totally out of place. Parks Canada really missed the mark with that one.