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My Ferry Reservation Cancelled. . . Need Advice

Boston, MA
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My Ferry Reservation Cancelled. . . Need Advice

I just got back home to find a voicemail from the Bay Ferries telling me that our return ferry from Yarmouth NS to Portland ME has been cancelled for an upcoming trip to NS in early October.

In early August, I made outbound reservations to NS for October 3rd with a return on October 10th, again via the CAT. Our party consists of 6 people/2 cars with folks flying to Boston from Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Also in August, I made all my room reservations for Sherburne (1st night), Lunenburg (3 nights), Mabou (2 nights), and Annapolis Port Royal (1 night) -- three rooms each night.

Because we really want to visit NS and members of my group already have non-refundable airline reservations, I really don't want to cancel this trip. However, I have a couple of constraints: (1) members of my party are flying home from Boston at 8AM on the morning of the 11th and (2) two members of the group can't handle long periods of time in the car (one with hip and the other back issues).

The only solution I see is to return by driving to Boston. Here's my question:

(1) We could start heading home from Mabou, stopping for the night somewhere on the Bay of Fundy west coast (St. Andrews?) before continuing on to Boston via car (7+ hours)

(2) We could spend the night in Annapolis Port Royal (as planned) and then take the 8AM ferry on October 10th to Saint John NB from Digby and then continue to drive (7+ hours) to Boston with many stops for those who need an opportunity to stretch.

This CAT cancellation is very frustrating; but I need to come up with an acceptable alternative to our original plan quickly (before talking to Bay Ferries or my out-of-town travel partners), or I fear that the consensus will be to either cancel the trip outright or spend the week in coastal Maine.

Any advice or thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Which plan above makes the most sense. . . or is there a better alternative?

Thanks in advance


New Minas, Canada
Destination Expert
for Nova Scotia
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1. Re: My Ferry Reservation Cancelled. . . Need Advice

Hi Dan,

This decision of Bay Ferries has certainly upset a lot of people's vacation plans & it certainly must be very,very frustrating to have to rethink your whole trip.

Returning to Annapolis Royal from Cape Breton will not save you any driving time as I see it.

You will be doing a lot of driving while in Nova Scotia. Depending what you want to see in Cape Breton, 2 nights there will not allow you much time. One day will be taken up driving to there from Lunenburg.Perhaps 2 nights in Lunenburg would be enough since the drive from Shelburne could be spent exploring the coastline. Again, it depends on your interests.

You will definitely need the extra time for driving back to Boston & I'm sure that you don't want to spend all your time in the car. It would be nice if you take one of the scenic routes (either the "Sunrise Trail" or Glooscap Trail") travelling from Cape Breton to the New Brunswick border.

If you go to the Nova Scotia website, there is a distance calculator on the left hand side of the home page. This might help you decide how far to travel each day.


I hope this helps somewhat. I feel so bad that this has happened to folks coming to visit our province.


Boston, MA
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2. Re: My Ferry Reservation Cancelled. . . Need Advice

Fundygirlr -

Thanks so much for your reply and helpful suggestions.

It's certainly impossible to see NS satisfactorily in only seven nights, even without including Cape Breton Island. The three nights in Lunenburg were intended to serve as a base-station where we could explore the town, Mahone bay, Second Peninsular, or even spur out to Peggy's Cove or Halifax. . . as the mood struck us. But the group wanted a taste of Cape Breton and the Bay of Fundy; and hence the nights in Mabou and Annapolis Royal.

But, I see your point (particularly given the loss of a day) and will make new arrangements. In particular, I'll include your suggestion to travel from Mabou to the border via the Sunrise or Glooscap Trails. To do this, I'm thinking of following the sunrise trail westward around Cape George, picking up Canadian Route 104 in New Glasgow to Truro, following the Glooscap Trail to Parrsboro, and finally northward back to Route 104. I presume the stretch between Truro and Parrsboro will provide scenic views of the Bay of Fundy.

Following your suggestion, we can probably spend the night in Moncton and get an earlier start for the drive to Boston the next morning without the crossing time and hassle of dealing with the Digby-Saint John Ferry. It would be nice if we could avoid hotel reservation for this last evening (so we can see how far we get). . . but is this risky or is there usually good room availability along Canadian Rt 2?

I guess the bright side of our travel plan disruption is that we're leaving plenty to see for a future trip the Nova Scotia. . . Cabot Trail, Louisburg, and Annapolis Royal etc.

Again thanks for your help. . . and if you have any further suggestion or improvements to the plan above, please let me know.



Chester Basin...
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3. Re: My Ferry Reservation Cancelled. . . Need Advice

Hello Dan "

I have to also say I'm very sorry to hear that you are also truly inconvenienced by this Cat Ferry schedule change, very unfortunate !

As Fundygirl has already said, travelling down to Annapolis Royal / Digby would not work well given the circumstances now.

It would be unnecessary miles for your party since your exit is now not near these locations.

Portions of the Sunrise and Glooscap Trails are a worthy alternative I think as Fundygirl suggested.

Advocate Harbour, Cape D'or, Parrsboro, Upper Economy, will give you a taste of the Fundy Shores and portions of that area have lovely vantage points of the Bay, the Mini Cabot Trail as it is sometimes referred to as. This route can be time consuming though and I mention that because some of your party cannot tolerate long driving durations.

Will you still be staying 1 night in Shelburne, 3 nights Lunenburg ?

I think I would cut 1 of those nights out in order to spend time at a decent pace elsewhere.

Just a thought.

Maybe you could let us know and we could go from there.

I'm quite confident that you could make a last minute stop for accomodations on your last leg driving back homewards.

It's a shame that so many spend such a great amount of time tailoring their itineraries and plans only to have things changed unexpectedly at the last moment, tiz life right ?

Another thought "

Have you considered maybe spending night 1 in Annapolis Royal and then making your way cross country to the Lighthouse Route, Lunenburg etc.

This of course would cut out Shelburne but you will have several nights on the Atlantic Coast if Lunenburg is still in the plan and day trips are fairly easy from that location.


blondie **

Boston, MA
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4. Re: My Ferry Reservation Cancelled. . . Need Advice

Blondie -

Thanks for your advice. During preparations for this trip, I found that the NS forum to be a great resource. . . and in particular, I learned to look for and listen to the interesting, sound advice given by both yourself and Fundy Girl. You're both amazing!

We plan to take your suggestions to avoid Annapolis Royal and instead work our way to New Brunswick via parts of the Sunrise and Goosclap Trails. However, I've gone back and forth regarding whether to spend two or three days based in Lunenburg. I know that you have expert knowledge about this area, so I'm going to lay out our plans in a little greater detail, in the hope that you can help me decide.

1.) After disembarking from the CAT on 10/3, we opted to head for Shelburne (Cooper's Inn) so that we could enjoy this small fishing village that afternoon/evening and get an early start on the Lighthouse Trail. That day we hope to stop at the Keji Adjunct and take the Harbour Rocks Trail and spend some time (picnic?) down by the shore. My sister-in-law (mid 50s) had two hip operations this past spring. . . but is recovering well and tells me that she can handle such a hike as long as the pace is right and the path is no too irregular/rocky (I believe the path is level and parts have a boarded walkway).

2.) We should arrive late afternoon in Lunenburg (Lunenburg Inn), just in time to get oriented and have a nice meal on the waterfront. There, we'll choose our activities on-the-fly, between:

The Bluenose (if in port)

The Lobsterman tour

The Graveyard tour

Ferry or Boat ride in Mahone Bay

The Natural Oven Sea Caves

Shopping and Eating from Lunenburg to Chester

Short hiking on Second Peninsular

My brother-in-law and I would like to play some golf (Maybe at the Lunenburg harbor course)

A part day excursion to Halifax for some or all of us

Plus. . . given that my last name is Backman. . . I had hoped to at least see Backman Beach (near Paradise Retreat) and maybe even Backman Island and Backman Run. Where else in the world could I do this?

But we only really have two full days in Lunenburg before heading on to Mabou (Duncreigan Inn); so I doubt we'll have a chance to do everything while based in Lunenburg that we might like to do (even if some activities are closed for the season by the time of our arrival.) In Mabou, we'll also decide on what to do on-the-fly. . . miner's beach, some bicycling, Baddeck, or indian heritage.

I know our itinerary doesn't sound very aggressive (in terms of seeing all the sights). But after plotting out several routes containing a string of one-night inn stays, we felt it best to avoid becoming a slave to our itinerary, even if it meant seeing fewer places. Afterall, maybe we'll get to actually see more by taking the time to learn about the places we do visit in greater detail. And what we miss, we'll see the next time. . . hopefully then we'll have more time.

I think I'm talking myself into staying in Lunenburg for three days but I'd like your opinion before making a final decision. Please let me know if the current plan is delusional. Any thoughts you or Fundy Girl might have are truly appreciated.

Thanks. . . and sorry for being long winded!!


New Minas, Canada
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5. Re: My Ferry Reservation Cancelled. . . Need Advice

Hi Dan,

I certainly understand why you want to make your base in Lunenburg for 3 nights to give you a chance to enjoy the things that interest you there. Blondie can probably let you know what will be open during the period that you'll be there.

Here's another option for when you leave Lunenburg for Cape Breton. You could take Rte 14 from Chester to Windsor (aprox 45 min drive) then continue with it from Windsor to Milford which is a short ways from Truro on the 102 hwy. It wouldn't take any longer even though it's a lower speed limit & you'd be travelling a more scenic route than highway driving, especially with the Fall Colours.

I wouldn't take Rte 215 along the coast from Windsor to Truro as it is a 2 hr drive & there wouldn't be much open that time of year.

It's a very nice drive from Truro to Parrsboro (54 miles) along the Minas Basin Shore. And from Parrsboro to Advocate Harbour (27 miles) is like a mini Cabot Trail. Take time to visit Cape d"Or & the beach at Advocate Harbour if you go that way. If you are tired & decide to stay by the Bay Of Fundy there are some lovely cottages on the beach at Advocate Beach.


It would be aprox another 54 miles from there to the New Brunswick border.

Just something more for you to think about for your trip. I hope that I didn't confuse you more.


Boston, MA
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6. Re: My Ferry Reservation Cancelled. . . Need Advice

Fundy Girl -

Wow, thanks for the great ideas. . . I particularly like your suggestion for the Driftwood Park Retreat. . . absolutely perfect. In fact, this causes me to rethink things and maybe get over my stubborn denial that we should retain our original plan to visit Mabou (in spite of the shortened trip). I'm now happy with our first four days, presuming that Blondie doesn't have further suggestions and input.

So what do you think about this as an alternative to Mabou:

(1) Travel from Lunenburg toward Windsor, as you suggest, on Rt 14;

(2) Take the slow road (Rt 215) to Truro stopping often;

(3) Continue on to upper Economy (getting there late afternoon) staying at the Driftwood Park Retreat for two nights.

(4) On our last morning, continue along the entire coast (including Chignecto Bay) into New Brunswick going as far as practical towards Boston (maybe to Fredericton).

As you said (right from the start) the Cape Breton spur does add a lot of driving each way and if the Parrboro and Economy areas are as interesting as I sense, we'll actually have an opportunity to see and do more. And we get a head start on our way back to Boston; lessening the strain on my companions. My apologies if it took me a while to grasp what you were telling me.

Does this rearranged Bay of Fundy itinerary make sense. . . or would you split the loop with a night in two different locations? (except that the retreat looks so great!)

Thanks for your help and patience. You can't imagine how much I appreciate it!


Boston, MA
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7. Re: My Ferry Reservation Cancelled. . . Need Advice

Hi Fundy Girl -

Ooops - I now see that Advocate Harbor is really not as close to Economy as I thought. . . but maybe the new plan works anyway since it's only 45 mi!

I should have looked at the map while writing.

Thanks again


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8. Re: My Ferry Reservation Cancelled. . . Need Advice

I can imagine the situation the Cat ferry changes have brought upon many travelers. Fortunately, I was able to move forward a week and reserve the Cat accordingly. The main changes were coming back into Bar Harbor instead of Portland and extending the trip by a day which will work out better. I'm still working out the details of my trip....up to Brier island, on to Cape Breton, back to Lunenburg and the ferry at Yarmouth. As is my usual practice, I haven't reserved any accomodations as of yet. I have them in my head, with backups if neccessary, but I wonder if during my travel period of Sept. 28 through Oct. 5, I might just wing it. Good luck to all who are affected.

Halifax, NS
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9. Re: My Ferry Reservation Cancelled. . . Need Advice

Be sure to stop at the Fundy Geological Museum in Parrsboro - it's fascinating.


Mid Coast Maine...
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10. Re: My Ferry Reservation Cancelled. . . Need Advice

DanMelrose, the beach here is actually spelled Bachman's. It's located on Second Penninsula, between Lunenburg and Mahone Bay. It's a very pretty location and if you see someone there with a black lab, that's me.....I take her there everyday for a run.

Most folks don't know this, but it's actually a private beach, owned by the Steven's family, but the public is invited to use it. In fact, at one time, the family owned most of Second Penninsula after they moved there from Tancook Island. One of the Steven's brother, Robert, was a sailmaker, and his loft is located at the end of the road on a most picturesque farm. One of the decendents, Michele, is currently the sailmaker and about 3 years ago made the new mainsail for the Bluenose. The other brother, David, was a boatbuilder and his schooners were world class. His boat shed can still be seen on Bachman's Beach.

While at the beach, if you look directly out to see, you will find Bachman's Island. You can visit there by boat. Haven't heard of, and don't know where "Bachman's Run" is.

The Fisheries Museum in Lunenburg has an excellent geneology department http://www.ssgs.ca/ You might want to contact them to check out your roots. Since you're from Massachusetts, it's very possible that you're people might have come from here. Lots did and moved to MA as a result of the fishing industry.

As for your other Lunenburg activities..... the Bluenose will be in port (Lunenburg is her home port), but she will be done sailing for the season. You will be able to see her and watch her being derigged for the season.

The Graveyard Tour, as part of the Lunenburg Walking Tours, is excellent......but he doesn't do it on a regular basis like his daytime tours. If it is really something you want to do, give Eric a call and I'm sure that he would accomodate you. Don't e-mail....he's terrible at checking and answering them. Call and keep calling. Evenings are probably best to reach him. 902-634-3848 Eric is excellent!! He is one of the only certified tour guides in Nova Scotia, plus, he was born and raised in Lunenburg and knows the town inside and out.

Lobsterman Tours is also very good and educational....although I'm not sure he will be running in October. Our lobster season here begins at the end of November and her might be starting to get his boat ready for fishing. A couple years back Peter Jennings took the tour and raved about it.

I'm not a golfer, but my husband is, and has played the Bluenose gourse often. Although only 9 holes (you play it twice for a full round), it is quite challenging. They do rent clubs, and don't take reservations....just show up.

There are boat tours in Mahone Bay aboard a converted fishing boat captained by Chris Banfield www.southshoreboattours.com/boattours.html and also sailing trips on Eastern Star www.novascotiasailing.com/ out of Lunenburg. Both are recommended depending on your preference for motor or sail. But dress warm!! The winds on the water in October can be quite chilly even if it's pleasant on shore.

If you have any other specific questions about Lunenburg and area, please let me know. Glad you're still coming despite the problems the CAT has caused The fall is the very best time of the year in Nova Scotia. I would highly suggest that you, and everyone else affected by the CAT write a letter to the Nova Scotia Department of Tourism voicing your frustrations.

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