Earlier this summer, we did a call out for cruise stories about Saint John. We enjoyed some beautiful submissions about people working together, touching moments with passengers and great laughs, all set against our region’s beautiful backdrop.
Our winner, Aquila tour guide Bonnie LeBlanc, wrote this story about passengers exploring their personal history and making memories at Hopewell Rocks.
Last fall I was leading a Hopewell Rocks tour and, as it was fall, usually our guests are all older folks.
Well, this tour I had a family of four and the children were two little boys (approx. 2 & 5 years of age). The family sat at the back of the bus and didn’t really interact with the rest of us.
We get to Hopewell Rocks and we had Kevin as our Hopewell guide. Kevin is awesome, does professional photography as well, and interacts with the guests above and beyond so I knew we were going to have a great day there, plus it’s low tide. When we get down to the beach Kevin makes finger puppets for the two little boys out of the rockweed (first time that had ever happened on one of my tours, but what a great idea).
We had hiked down through the woods and were able to do some extra hiking on the beach because of the extreme low tide that day.
It was an all around fantastic day had by all.
Well, when we get back to the pier the family of four were the last people off the bus and the wife says to the husband, “You have to tell Bonnie’. So I’m thinking, “Oh-oh what did I miss?” Then the husband proceeds to tell me that his grandparents were geologists from Utah and that they had gone to Hopewell Rocks on their honeymoon decades earlier.
The new bride had painted a picture of her new husband standing in front of the ‘lovers arch’ formation on the beach at Hopewell Rocks. My guest, the husband, had gone to his grandparents’ home every summer of his life and had enjoyed the painting of Hopewell Rocks hanging on his grandparents’ wall. His grandfather had passed away a few years ago and his grandmother had just passed away. So when the husband told me this I said, “Please tell me you took a picture of you and your family in front of the same rock formation!”
The answer was yes.
The family of four had wandered off a bit while down on the beach so I hadn’t had them in my sights the whole time. The husband said, “You don’t understand Bonnie, I planned this whole vacation around this one excursion and getting to walk on the ocean floor. I had researched the tide table, best chance of having good weather and the tour timing to be able to stand in front of the same rock with my family.”
Well, I thanked them so much for sharing their story with me and as soon as they walked away I teared right up. When I walked into the terminal my management team thought something bad had happened and when I told them the story they teared up.
You never know as a tour guide when you start that day’s tour why some people have signed-up for that particular tour.
Sometimes guests don’t even know where they are or what they are doing that day as someone else has signed them up and they are just along for the ride, but when you get an experience like this – wow!
I have had other guests start to cry at the top of the stairs at Hopewell Rocks (for happy reasons) but never with a story like this one.