In Saguenay Lac Saint Jean, QC

Croisières AML – Groupe Dufour: Tadoussac Pier next to Hotel Tadoussac 165 Rue du Bord de l’Eau, Tadoussac, QC G0T 2A0

Whale watching on the fjord was quite an experience. We not only saw a variety of whale species, including beluga, minke and fin whales, but we also saw an extraordinary number of them! It felt like we were on an Oprah episode, “There’s a whale for YOU! And a whale for YOU! And a whale for YOU!” Everywhere we turned it seemed like the guide was pointing out different spots in the water where we could see a different whale come to the surface. As it turns out, there is a darn good reason why the whales love this area…the fjord is stocked with the food they love!

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A fjord is formed when a glacier leaves and sea water fills the void where the glacier existed. The guide explained that the water in this area had three layers. The bottom was filled with salt water and the top layer was comprised of fresh water. A middle layer was created from the two mixing together, the consistency of which reminded us of Italian dressing. She said it was the currents in the water from the Great Lakes, the Saguenay River and the Labrador Current that create a perfect breeding place for the krill that whales like to eat. I found a great depiction of the food chain on the Saguenay-St Lawrence Marine Park website.

We learned so much on our whale watching excursion! The guide had charts depicting different whales and she provided a table with different whale teeth and other items that the kids could touch. We were able to ask her questions and she even taught us how to say some of the words in French.

The cruise lasted about 3 hours and though we were there in May, we were glad that we brought jackets with us. It was quite cool on the water. If you have some extra room in your suitcase, bring a pair of binoculars with you. Even without binoculars, you will be able to see the whales pretty well since the observation boat will get fairly close to them. We saw other people observing the whales from zodiac boats and even kayaks. I would recommend that experience for those who really want to get close to nature!

We stayed at the nearby Hotel Tadoussac, which offered WONDERFUL accommodations and delicious meals featuring local products. Despite it’s luxurious atmosphere, the hotel was very family friendly and charming. My girls were excited to learn that it even offered a variety of activities for kids including mini golf, tennis and a pool. For kids 4-12, there is a kids club, with fun scavenger hunts, games, crafts and movie nights. Not all hotels offer such programs so it’s nice for parents to be able to know that the kids are having fun while they take advantage of some time alone for the adults. Did I mention that there is a spa? Yup, just found what you could do with that alone time!

We enjoyed learning about the history of the hotel which opened in 1864. You can still see the “pigeon holes” for the mail behind the hotel front desk. Be sure to take a walk around the grounds and don’t miss stopping by the church on the property. It is the oldest wooden church in North America and most certainly worthy of a photo for your scrapbook. If you are looking for a charming and convenient spot for your family vacation, we highly recommend the Hotel Tadoussac. The hotel offers a variety of packages including whale watching packages, which are available with your hotel stay.

Sailing Lessons with Voile Mercatur: 359, rue St-Jean-Baptiste (L’Anse-Saint-Jean) G0V 1J0
The fjord was also a beautiful place to learn how to sail so the girls and I signed up for a lesson with Captain Jacques. We learned sailing terminology and techniques, but the best part was that we were the actual crew! If we didn’t all chip in and help, that sailboat wasn’t going anywhere. So it was literally all hands on deck while we hoisted the sail and took over the wheel. We enjoyed learning how the wind powered the boat to glide across the waters. It was thrilling and relaxing at the same time.

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Captain Jacques made it a lot of fun for all of us too and he made us laugh…a lot! All of the instructors are certified by the Québec Sailing Federation and Sail Canada and are fluent in French and English. They offer a variety of tours from 3 hours up to several days long depending on what your family wants to experience. If you have the knowledge, but just want to rent a boat, that is also an option.

We learned that sailing is a lifestyle. You work hard, but you play hard too! When we got back to the dock, we were greeted by other boaters with a musical serenade. They broke out several instruments including a violin, a mandolin and even an accordion. It was a wonderful experience that we would definitely try again.

Some Additional Tips & Fun Facts

  • Closed toe shoes for both whale watching and sailing are recommended.
  • Other cruises include historical information while others offer brunch, lunch or dinner
  • If you tend to get seasick, eat a light lunch before cruising.
  • Accommodations can be made for people with mobility issues. Look under “useful information” tab for more information.
  • Depending on how you buy tickets, whether at a ticket booth, on-line or over the phone, there are different restrictions. Look under “useful information” tab for more information.

Sailing

  • There are several departure locations so confirm your departure address and directions.
  • Arrive with plenty of time to fill out paperwork and get fitted for life jackets.
    Family fares are available for some of the excursions (2 adults, 2 children)
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