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Saint John is located on the Bay of Fundy in the Canadian province of New Brunswick. The Bay of Fundy is famously known for its unique rock formation and extreme high tides, considered the highest tides in the world. Wait a few hours and you can actually walk on the ocean floor during low tide.
Its location along the bay helped make Saint John a premier shipbuilding city in the 19th century. Today, you can still see remnants of its shipbuilding past and historic architecture fused with contemporary culture and design during a St. John, New Brunswick cruise port of call.
The best times to visit Saint John are April to May and September to October when you can find mild weather and fewer crowds. We conveniently cruise to St. John, New Brunswick in September and October. The perfect time to see the region’s gorgeous fall foliage. A St. John, New Brunswick cruise port of call provides many exciting ways to spend the day, including various shore excursions, making it a popular stop on Canada and New England cruises.
Head to Reversing Falls Rapids at the right time of day and you can see a river that appears to be flowing the wrong way. Located on Saint John River, the Reversing Falls is a natural phenomenon that gets its name due to the rising tide that pushes against the river flow and causes the water to surge upstream. You’ll want to time your visit to Reversing Falls Rapids with high tide in order to see the most dramatic water flow reversal. For a scenic view of the river flow, head to Reversing Falls Bridge, which looks out over an area where the river narrows and flows through a deep gorge.
You can also see the Reversing Falls Rapids by visiting the Skywalk Saint John, which lets you view the largest whirlpool created by the Reversing Falls Rapids on a stainless steel and glass skywalk. While at Skywalk Saint John, you can also watch a film about the Reversing Falls Rapids, see the world’s first real-time cylindrical digital tidal display, dine in the onsite restaurant, or visit the gift shop.
Nature and bird lovers will enjoy visiting Irving Nature Park while in the cruise port of St. John. Irving Nature Park is located on a narrow peninsula and covers 600 acres. While exploring the park along scenic walking trails, you’ll encounter forests, volcanic rock, mud flats, salt marsh, and sandy coastline. Keep your eyes peeled for the changing tide and scenery as well as some of the more than 250 species of migrating and marine birds that have been spotted in the park.
Travelers visiting the city of St. John via cruise ship can easily visit the downtown area and walk around it on one of the walking routes marked throughout the town. Whether you’re looking for history or shopping or culture in downtown Saint John, you can find it while in port.
Shopping centers and boutiques are located throughout the center of town among a plethora of eateries serving New Brunswick specialties. Those seeking out the downtown area’s top attractions should head to King’s Square, which has a 2-story bandstand and a garden area with trees and flowerbeds in the form of a Union flag. Other top sites include the Loyalist House, one of the few structures to survive the great fire of 1877, and the nearby Loyalist Burial Ground; the architecture of heritage brick buildings; and Barbour’s General Store located in a building dating back to 1867 that is still decorated in the manner it would have been back then.
The Carleton Martello Tower is a national historic site in St. John that was built in 1813 and has served numerous military purposes. It was originally built to protect the port against a possible attack from the United States. It was utilized during both world wars, and in the Second World War a two-story steel and concrete structure was added so it could serve as area headquarters for the anti-aircraft defense and fire fighting services. When visiting the tower during a cruise to St. John, you can tour it with a guide in historical costume and view an exhibition of military life in the 18th century. In addition, the tower is a great scenic viewpoint for a photo op of St. John’s harbor and the Bay of Fundy.
Shoppers who enjoy finding handicrafts and a variety of souvenirs will enjoy visiting Saint John City Market, the oldest continuing farmer’s market in Canada that began in 1876. The ceiling of the building resembles the upturned hull of a ship, a tribute to the city’s shipping industry. In addition to various wares and accessories, you can find a plethora of food items. The Saint John City Market is open Monday through Saturday and its opening hours during the day are marked by a bell being rung when the market opens and closes.
A scenic drive along the Fundy Trail Parkway is a popular excursion to do while in port during cruises to St. John, New Brunswick. It begins near St Martins, a historic shipbuilding community, and continues on a northeast path along the bay. The Fundy Trail Parkway has many scenic viewpoints and hiking trails you can do. It culminates at Big Salmon River, where logging was once a huge operation and you can see what remains of an abandoned village from that era.
Learn more about the history and culture of New Brunswick at the New Brunswick Museum located in St. John. The museum was founded over a century ago and has exhibits featuring the natural history, life, and art of the province. Learn about New Brunswick’s shipbuilding industry past, native flora and fauna and the geology of the Bay of Fundy, and the artwork and artifacts created by the indigenous First Nations culture that often incorporates in birch bark, quill, and beadwork.
Dine at the aforementioned Saint John City Market, which serves up just about everything, whether you’re looking for a snack or a big meal. Your taste buds will start drooling as soon as you spot the decadent looking cuisine, which includes salads, sandwiches, fish and chips, lobster, and ice cream, just to name some of the culinary options.
Saint John also has many eateries in which you can dine, ranging from cafés to restaurants. The city is especially known for its fresh seafood.
Saint John is the oldest incorporated city in Canada. During the reign of King George III of England, the municipality was created by royal charter in 1785, which came after the partitioning of the colony of Nova Scotia in 1784. Saint John was originally supposed to be the capital of New Brunswick, but was vetoed by King George III (the capital is in Fredericton).
Not long after, Saint John became known for its shipbuilding industry, which helped the town to prosper.
Today, the port of Saint John is Canada’s third largest port by tonnage. In addition to cruising, the other most frequent cargo ships that visit Saint John carry dry and liquid bulk, break bulk, and containers. For several decades around the turn of the 21st century, Saint John’s population was in decline, but it is starting to boom again; in 2016, it became the second most populous city in New Brunswick.
Cruise ships typically dock at Port Saint John, which is conveniently located next to the popular area of uptown Saint John. The Saint John cruise port is home to two terminals: Marco Polo and the newer Diamond Jubilee. From Port Saint John, it’s a short walk along Lower Water Street to the city center.
On days when three ships are in port, the third ship docks at Long Wharf Terminal also located in the heart of the city.
Taxis are available by the cruise port and are located outside the exit of the cruise terminal building.
Local public transportation buses are also available. When figuring out routes, it’s helpful to remember that routes 1 and 2 run east to west and vice versa, while routes 3 and 4 run from the north side of town down south and onto to the east side and vice versa.
You don’t have to go far to find souvenirs in Saint John. Souvenir shops are located close to the cruise terminal port in uptown Saint John. For interesting souvenirs of the art, book, or vintage variety, amble in and out of the shops located along the side streets of Saint John’s uptown area. Souvenirs from Moosehead Brewery and Java Moose Coffee Roasters are popular items for drink and food lovers.
The Canadian dollar is the official currency of Canada so travelers should have some on hand during a St. John, New Brunswick cruise stop. Many of the shops and restaurants near the Saint John cruise terminal will accept U.S. dollars, though your change will be given in Canadian dollars. If you need to get cash, there’s an ATM at the Marco Polo Cruise Terminal that dispenses Canadian currency.
Tipping in Canada is similar to the United States and a tip of 15% to 20% of the total bill is expected for dining services or bar service. A tip of 10% to 15% is common for taxi rides.