“No puffins, no pay?? Ridiculous. This tour is worth the cost just for the guide!”
My mother, brother and I ventured out on Donelda's Puffin Boat Tour on our visit to the Maritimes in June. Anyone who was travelling Nova Scotia during that time knows how consistently bad the weather was.... rain (just this side of snow, it seemed) and wind...just all-round weather for stoic types. We paid our $34 for a trip that promised puffins (about 7 miles off shore at Bird Island), bald eagles, and the chance at spotting a seal or two. Donelda and her husband, Captain John, departed into St. Ann's bay amidst some pretty impressive swells. We had just left dock and a call came in that another couple - booked for the tour - had taken a wrong turn. John turned around and WAITED for the latecomers and helped them on to the boat. Where else would you get this kind of service from a tour? Only in the Maritimes, I say. We resumed our journey with Donelda's informative, insightful and humorous narrative about life as "lobstermen", the history, flora, and fauna of the area, and so much more. As we moved along to the entrace to the Atlantic, it was clear that the weather was such that the seas were not safe to be taking passengers the additional few kilometers to Bird Island. Alas, no puffins today. But we did see bald eagles - one of which was lured by a fish tossed by Donelda for the benefit of those of us with cameas. Donelda announced that we'd be turning back for safety reasons, and that her guarantee of "No puffins, no pay" would be honoured. I was shocked that after the wonderful service - including the offer of seasickness bracelets to the less hardy of the passengers - there was a queue of people wanting their money back. Unbelievable. I am ashamed of the people who would take advantage of hard-working, friendly, and honourable people for the sake of a $34 boat ride. Donelda and John gave a wonderful tour. Puffins or not, worth every penny of the cost, and highly recommended!
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