Despite my glowing reports about our just finished cruise aboard Grandeur Of The Seas I need to issue an advisory...
I do not recommend booking the Ganong Chocolate tour. This tour is offered in Saint John (don't abbreviate the "Saint"!) and it was really disappointing. Actually the RCI literature for this tour borders on subterfuge. I am planning on writing them to complain.
The Ganong Chocolate Tour: (cruise line version from our excursion literature)
Visit the Chocolate Museum where you will learn all about the history of chocolate, sample these delicious confections, watch your favorite Ganong chocolates being hand-crafted fresh and flavorful, and take the chocolate oral quiz! Afterwards, the Gift Shop is a dream for those shoppers looking to stock up on all their favorite chocolate gifts.
The Ganong Chocolate Tour: (real version)
You board a bus at the pier, drive southwest for 90 minutes at high speed until you reach the border with Maine, and then get a pretty mediocre tour of a chocolate museum (maybe 1500 square feet of nothing memorable) located in the old Ganong factory building. Most of the building now contains law offices, accountants, and a credit union. It is essentially a strip mall. You can see the U.S. border from the parking lot. Of course the big idea is to drag you through the candy store so you can buy lots of chocolates. After maybe an hour or so at the museum you board the bus for the 90 minute ride back to the pier. The day is now shot and you don't get to see any of Saint John. All this for just $86 per person.
I blame myself for not doing my homework. Just take my advice - it is a bad tour and please don't do it. Both RCI and the Ganong Chocolate Company ought to be ashamed of this tour.
No free samples? When I did the Ethel M Chocolate tour in Vegas, we at least got a sample. Of course, they want you to buy, which I did. But they at least showed you through the factory, it was in a great setting, and you could walk through the surrounding area. It was about an hour drive from the strip, though.
We got samples. A women had a small tray of chocolates at the entrance, then there was another tray later on. Plus they gave us little cardboard boxes to assemble and we could put up to 4 chocolates in them. In all I had 6 pieces of candy.
After entering they took us to a small sitting area where this young tour guide stumbled through a talk about the history of chocolate. Then he showed a video of people making candy (not unlike Marlin Perkins saying "here we see Jim making candy bars"). Then we went into another area with photos of the Ganong family, a couple of old candy machines, and another video of an elderly man from the Ganong family talking about the business. Then a short corridor with old candy boxes and advertisements behind glass. Next was one woman dipping chocolates behind a glass window and another women boxing them. Tour over!
I googled the distance from Saint John. 70 miles.
I could have thrown a baseball and had it land in the backyard of some U.S. citizen.
There were only 13 on the tour bus. That should have been a clue to me.
It's good candy but nothing spectacular. No different in taste than buying Russell Stover or a Whitman's Sampler.
I guess I should have said part of your day at the market, it wouldn't take all day. If excursions were offered to the Bay of Fundy (The Rocks or Fundy park) would also have been a better choice, spectacular views and is on the list as one of the new wonders of the world.
After several visits to Saint John, I still haven't made it to the Hopewell Rocks... tides were never in our favor. We have, though, purchased dulce several times in the City Market. It's not half bad.
One bright spot from the candy tour - the Pal-O-Mine candy bar (two bars in a package) is absolutely wonderful. Perhaps one of the best candy bars I've ever had. I still have two of them sitting here. Major sugar rush so approach them carefully. I can't find them other than direct order from Ganong. Not cheap since their shipping is more than the candy costs.
With the Hopewell Rocks, the Sea Caves, the Bay of Fundy, the Reversing Falls and a great pub like O'Leary's why traipse back to the U.S. border for chocolate unless you really have a sweet tooth! Dave-stay away from chocolate when your in Southampton!
As for me - I'm going back up to St.John next June to finish off the case of Moosehead at O'Leary's I left behind!
Bub- It's within easy walking distance from the St.John ship terminal entrance - O'Leary's is approximately two blocks to the left , look to the right and you will see the sign half a block up the hill! Many cruiseline's offer tours to O'Leary's - you can walk there in no time for free!
They usually feature great local entertainment! You can pop in there after any other tour you may take and you'll still be back to the ship with time to spare - unless you have a wee bit too much Moosehead!!