In case you missed it, we are announcing our newest Freestyle Tour: "300,000 Tulips in Springtime & Ottawa", and here are the details:
I believe this will be an exciting trip.
For this trip, we’ll journey to our nation’s capital, Ottawa, to experience
one of the most amazing events in Canada. The Canadian Tulip Festival is
an annual 18 day festival that begins in early May. This festival is noted
for it’s almost non-stop activity and it’s International Pavilion at Major’s
Hill Park where 25 countries share their food, crafts, culture and entertainment
throughout the 18 days of the festival. And let’s not forget about the
flowers, there are more than 300,000 tulips planted by the National Capital
Commission at their Commissioners Park at Dow’s Lake and at Parliament Hill
where the Gifts of Tulips were first planted in 1945. We’ll spend three
nights in Ottawa at a downtown hotel that is close to everything, and from which
we will take in as many of the sights and scenes as possible during this Ottawa
On day one we’ll travel to Grand Falls, New Brunswick. Known for it’s waterfalls on the Saint John River, the river rapidly descends approximately 75 feet as it rushes over a series of rock ledges. Grand Falls is a world-renowned potato farming community. Potatoes are processed into french fries mainly for McCain Foods, the largest french fry company in Canada and the world.
Day two finds us in Granby, Quebec, but not before touring through some of the most scenic landscape in Canada. Granby is one of the Eastern Township communities that had strong ties to the United Empire Loyalists, Yankees and New England, a fact which is reflected in the architecture of the older buildings. This strong English influence is being lost as the region is now predominantly French speaking.
On day three, we’ll by-pass the city of Montreal as best as we can as we make our way to Ottawa for a three night stay. We’ll be visiting Commissioners Park at Dow’s Lake and Garden of the Provinces. This patriotic park is a four acre site along Confederation Boulevard in Ottawa and is the epitome of all that is Canadian. A graceful green space accessible to all, the Garden of the Provinces and Territories is decorated with the flower emblem and Coat of Arms of each of the ten provinces and three territories of Canada. The focal points of this park are two beautiful fountains, their unique design a representation of the five Great Lakes and Canada’s vast forests. Located directly across from Library and Archives Canada, this park is shielded by lush trees which makes it a beautiful and relaxing stop to inspire visitors with an appreciation for our country’s unity. Dramatic lighting highlights the proud emblems after dusk.
During the Canadian Tulip Festival, visitors can also enjoy a beautiful backdrop of bright flowers. No visit to the Tulip Festival would be complete without visits to both Major’s Hill Park, which is home to the International Pavilion, and Parliament Hill where it all began more than 64 years ago.
On day six, we take our leave of Ottawa and tour through the Quebec countryside. Our destination today is the city of Trois-Rivières, west of Quebec City.
On day seven, we’ll cross the Saint Lawrence River to the south bank and continue east via Route 20. Once again, we’ll be staying in New Brunswick.
For day eight, we’ll be travelling through New Brunswick and, if time permits, we’ll stop at Magnetic Hill near Moncton.
After that, it’s a quick two hours via the Trans-Canada Highway to Halifax and home.
Halifax Shore Excursions
We thought this might also be a good time to review the Halifax Shore Excursions and give you some helpful insights based on some recent difficulties experienced:
· When booking a private excursion, be aware of who, what and where:
· Who will you be meeting at the dock?
· What time will you be meeting? Is it based on Halifax time or ship’s time?
· Where are you going to meet Blue Diamond Tours?
Blue Diamond Tours stands immediately outside the security area by the ship’s departure ramp holding a diamond shaped blue sign with white lettering labelled “Blue Diamond Tours”. It is hard to miss. Other providers usually have hand-lettered signs with clients names or identifying symbols.
· If you have made arrangements to meet at 10:00 am, please do not worry if your guide is not there at 8:45 am. Most guides try and be ‘on-station’ approximately an hour before they are due to start a tour, but this is not always possible.
· If your excursion is scheduled for a specific period of time, for example 3.0 hours +/-, please do not try and extend it for another two hours. If you wish to extend your tour, please let your guide know as soon as possible, and if possible, your guide will try to accommodate your request. However, please note that extending your tour will increase the cost.
· Review the details of your tour before it is finalized. Make sure you are certain as to what is and is not included in your tour, as well as the itinerary and destination(s). In order to avoid disappointment, if you are travelling as part of a group it is important to ensure all members are fully appraised of the tour details. For example, if a member of your group has always wanted to see the lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove, they may be disappointed to find out mid-tour that it is not part of the itinerary and cannot be added at the last moment.
· If meals are not included in your excursion, but you would like to stop for a meal break, make certain the necessary time for this is built into your overall total tour time. Providers only allot the amount of time for a tour that is scheduled in advance.
Vehicles and guides are also scheduled in advance and may have other engagements which preclude them from being able to extend a tour to include an unscheduled meal break. It is also good to note that 12:00 pm is usually the busiest time for lunch, and therefore this tends to be when service at restaurants is slowest.
· While working as a ‘freelance guide’ for cruise ships, I have noticed many people do not take the time to find out the specifics of what is included in the tour they have arranged to take. For example, a few years ago one gentleman on a tour was very upset to learn half-way through the tour that we were not going to Peggy’s Cove. However, he had purchased a tour of Historic Halifax only. Another time, a person was dismayed to discover during a tour to Peggy’s Cove that it did not include a lobster dinner nor the time necessary to enjoy one on their own, even though this was clearly noted in the tour description. It is very important you know exactly what your tour includes and exactly where you will be going.
· "The bitterness of poor quality lingers long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” A truism to remember. A fair guide to shore excursion pricing is to compare w hat your ship is charging for excursions similar to what you are seeking. Ships have a long list of requirements and standards to which their excursion providers must adhere in order to provide tours for their passengers. However, it is important to note that ships have the advantage of numbers in the sense that with larger groups, costs can be allocated over many participants. A private excursion does not have this advantage, and so you should expect to pay slightly more for a private tour with smaller group sizes.
· Check out Blue Diamond Tour’s 2009 Halifax Shore Excursions. We have detailed ten Halifax Shore Excursions packages which are available for booking as is or, if you prefer, you could ask Blue Diamond Tours to develop a customized itinerary for your group using sites from various tours.
To summarize in closing, there are two items:
1. Details for the Freestyle Tour Series of trips can be viewed here.
2. Be sure to read the previous article. It is an AOL article on the value of a BLUE DIAMOND, which are very rare and valuable.
Enjoy the remaining days of 2008. We know 2009 is going to be an interesting and special year.
Cheers and all the best,