Frequently Asked Questions Answered Here

March 18, 2022 - Restrictions lifted 

On March 21, most province-wide public health restrictions will be lifted, including gathering limits, physical distancing and mask requirements. Some measures will remain in place for high-risk settings, such as healthcare and long-term care.

For full press release and details follow the link --> HERE

July 8, 2021 - Getting back to business.

We are pleased to announce that as the province of Nova Scotia opens its borders to Canadians that we will be offering our services based on availability in September and October this year, 2021.

It is looking like the international borders and cruise ships will be back in the Halifax Port for next year and we are expecting a VERY BUSY 2022. We are actively taking bookings for the 2022 season and do sell out, specifically during the high cruise ship season. Don't be disappointed, BOOK EARLY !

Down East Tours will be following Health & Safety measures for all of our tours for the comfort of our guests

February 12, 2021 - COVID-19 Update on operations for Down East Tours.  Hitting the ‘Pause” Button

Back in April 30, 2020 we suspended all touring services due to the Corona Virus (COVID-19) and the world-wide pandemic, as that was the right thing to do. On July 10, 2020 we released an update on resuming activities where at the that time travel restrictions were easing within the Atlantic Provinces and we were hopeful, as all tour operators were, that we would have some sort of season. Health and Safety Best Practices were put into place and outlined, as that was the right thing to do.

We held out the hope of some tours from the Atlantic Bubble. Eventually, the bubble collapsed. Very little travel between the provinces and the USA Borders were stilled closed. This meant for many operators, including Down East Tours, zero tours/activity.
Hope that was held out since March 2020 was now that hope was being refocused for the 2021 season and for things to get back to normal. Still, not knowing what will happen.

Earlier this month the Federal Government announced a Cruise Ship Ban into Canada Waters until February 2022. Additionally, there are still travel restrictions for entry into Canada, including 14-day self isolation and negative COVID testing requirements. The USA Border still is still closed and likely will be for the foreseeable future. These restrictions are necessary to help stop the spread of COVID 19. It is unknown at this point how future travelers entering Canada for tourism will be affected or any documentation to be expected. Or when this will be allowed.

85% of Down East Tours guests are travelers arriving in Halifax by cruise ship with the majority of these tours having American Guests. The balance is from Hotel Guests and guests from around the world. The world-wide pandemic still ongoing and still evolving. There are now vaccines but there are some new variants to COVID-19 leading to other unknowns. With this information, I do not see any return to tourism activity here in Nova Scotia until April 2022 at the earliest. Additionally, a more sustainable activity in offering tours may not happen until June 2022. Again, this is still an unknown situation and a fair distance into the future.

Having said that, I have come to the reluctant but necessary decision to put on ‘Pause’ all Down East Tours operations indefinitely, as this is the right thing to do. I will re-evaluate in the future the finger can be taken off the ‘Pause” button. This will be based on when things get back to a new normal from the Cruise Ship ban to be lifted to the international border being reopened to the United States and internationally. Tourism can and will rebuild but it will take time.

Until then I will continue respond to inquires and to post Tour Photos to keep the hope alive. I appreciate all the support and well wishes.

In the meantime, I will focus my attention on my off-season activity of Home Improvement Services. Please visit for more information.

Take care and stay safe.

Mel Zilkowsky
Down East Tours

July 24, 2020 - Update from the Province of Nova Scotia.

Province Announces Mandatory Masks in Indoor Public Places

Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health for Nova Scotia, announced today, July 24, that masks will become mandatory in most indoor public places starting July 31.

“As we open our economy, our schools and our communities, we must continue to be vigilant to minimize the impact of a second wave of COVID-19,” said Premier McNeil. “Wearing a non-medical mask in most indoor public places is a key part of how we protect each other and support our local businesses so they can stay open for the long run.”

Full details here - NEW RELEASE



At Down East Tours, we will always put health and safety first. With the COVID-19 outbreak, it has become essential to take consistent, careful, and deliberate actions to ensure a safer touring environment for all. We expect every guide and traveler to act responsibly to protect the health and safety of themselves, their companions, and the wider communities in which they live, work and travel.

Health & Safety Best Practices for All Tours:

  • Travelers should not go on tour if you, or someone with whom you have been in contact, are sick or are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms (such as cough, fever, shortness of breath). Travelers can contact us if they need to cancel their tour at the last minute.
  • Avoid physical contact between guide and traveler; no hugs/handshakes.
  • Hand sanitizer, spare masks and wipes will be available at all times.
  • Wear masks while in enclosed spaces such as in vehicles and suggested in other enclosed spaces such as museums.
  • Be aware of and respect local health and safety regulations and advisories.
  • Vehicles will be deep cleaned/sanitized before and after each tour, including all surfaces to be properly sanitized.

We will keep travelers informed prior to the date of the tour to:
  • Confirm ground rules, to make them aware of local regulations and advisories, and to gauge their level of comfort with any associated risks.
  • Provide travelers with the information and time they will need to make any necessary preparations for the tour (e.g. arranging personal supplies such as water, food, sanitizer, masks, wipes).
  • Arrange meeting locations which allow for optimal physical distancing - for instance, open areas free from crowding.
  • Actively protect travelers from others who are not respecting their space or adhering to safety measures.
  • Plan routes and itineraries to avoid crowds and busy periods.
  • Schedule regular hand washing breaks.

As we embrace the “new normal” we recommend to continue to:
  • Wash/sanitize hands frequently;
  • Cough or sneeze only into a closed elbow
  • Avoid shared items
  • Maintain physical distance between yourself and those outside your bubble.

Our goal on tour is to have the best experience and being prepared with best practices. 

We hope that providing this reassurance to travelers will get us one step closer to returning to the “normal” all of our livelihoods depend upon.

Mel Zilkowsky
Down East Tours

July 10, 2020 - Update on Resuming Touring Activities

It has been a challenging year for many tour operators in Nova Scotia and indeed in Canada and the rest of the world. COVID-19 has prevented travel and has brought tourism to a halt. With things continuing to improve here in Nova Scotia, some restrictions are easing and travel is slowly resuming, especially for the Atlantic Provinces with the Atlantic Bubble being in place July 3, 2020. This means travel within the four Provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland & Labrador are allowed without the need for 14 day self-isolation.

Down East Tours will resume taking Tour Bookings for 2020 active touring for Aug 17, 2020 to the end. We will be putting in additional measures to ensure a Safe & Healthy Tour Experience to be published shortly. Note that we are still actively taking tour bookings for the 2021 season.

We also encourage our guests to stay up-to-date through Canada’s Public Health and Nova Scotia’s Information websites.

Mel Zilkowsky
Down East Tours

April 30, 2020 - Temporarily Suspending all Touring Services  due to Corona Virus / Covid-19

The declaration of COVID‑19 as a worldwide health pandemic is having an impact on our lives, business operations and the way we interact with one another. With this in mind, we continue to monitor and assess the updates provided by the Government of Canada and Public Health. This information guides our approach and helps ensure we take the steps that best protect our guests, reduce risk and ensure we continue serving your needs.

Things are changing rapidly and we’re reaching out with an update about our commitment to safety and well-being. We’ve decided it is in the best interest of all to suspend all touring services and availability until April 29, 2020 and reassess at that time.  We will still be taking touring inquires/bookings and work with travelers to ensure flexibility to make any required changes if services continue to be interrupted beyond April 29, 2020.

We will be continuing to monitor the ongoing changes and update as required. Rest assured this will pass and when it does we will be ready to return with our services and explore this great province with you.

Thank you for all the support and understanding in these unprecedented times we are all facing.

Mel Zilkowsky
Down East Tours

March 17, 2020 - Regarding the Corona Virus / Covid-19

We understand that COVID-19 is the primary thought on the minds for travelers and we are all concerned about this very fluid situation. This is true for all forms of traveling, including smaller private tours. Currently, there have been no confirmed cases of the virus in Nova Scotia at this time. We feel we can all still have the enjoyment to experience and exploring this vast province of Nova Scotia and we wish to ensure the safety and comfort of all guests and visitors.

For Down East Tours, there has always been in place a cleaning protocol after each tour and at the end of the touring day for the touring vehicle. This includes all surfaces with particular focus on high traffic and high contact areas. Corona viruses are easily eliminated by routine surface cleaning. This practice will continue as per normal. Additionally, we will continue to have communications and reminders with our guests and partners and on important health and safety measures.

Currently, we are still plan on operating when the Tourism/Touring season begins in April. All tours are very flexible and we can have a very enjoyable tour avoiding any highly crowded areas. To protect yourself and others, we ask that anyone who is feeling unwell refrain from following through with a tour booking with us. So that together we can ensure a safe and comfortable experience for everyone. For cases where travellers wish to reschedule or possibility cancel their tour due to any concerns, please contact us. We will be happy to offer reschedule or offering a full refund for those who have pre-booked with deposit or full payment up 24hrs before a starting time of a tour. This policy will be in place until May 1,2020

We continue to monitor this situation closely and will provide ongoing updates as needed. We also encourage our guests to stay up-to-date through Canada’s Public Health and Nova Scotia’s Information websites.

Thank you and we look forward to welcoming you soon.

Mel Zilkowsky
Down East Tours
NEW ONLINE BOOKING SYSTEM IS NOW ACTIVE - This secure online booking system is handled by Acuity Scheduling/Squarespace !

After reviewing our Private Tours click on the BOOK YPOUR TOUR NOW link and follow the steps with the Secure Online Booking Page.  If you any questions at all or need to have a customized tour, please fill out the form on the CONTACT US page. 

We will respond within 24hrs.

You can also contact us directly at 1-902.222-2934

If there is no answer, please leave a brief message with your name, phone number and message with regards to booking a tour. We will respond within 24hrs.

Thank you.
Tour pricing is listed with each tour and based on a rate of $110 per hour which includes H.S.T. (tax).   All pricing is in Canadian Funds.

The rate is for the whole vehicle and not a per person price. Typical tours are 5 to 6 hours and longer.

For overnight and multi-days we can create a customized tour itinerary with pricing taking into considering routes and length of touring.

H.S.T. - stands for Harmonized Sales Tax and in Canada vary from Province to Province.

In Nova Scotia the H.S.T. is 15%
NEW ONLINE BOOKING SYSTEM IS NOW ACTIVE - This secure online booking system is handled by Acuity Scheduling/Squarespace. 

We accept all major credit cards and take payment at the time of online booking. All payments are processed in Canadian Dollars.

For last minute tours not booked online we can accept all major credit cards and take payment at the end of the tour using Square Tap/Swipe Credit Card Reader. All payments are processed in Canadian Dollars.

For customized overnight and multi-day touring a deposit would be require to secure and confirm the tour and a payment schedule sent, including cancelation policy.

NEW ONLINE BOOKING SYSTEM IS NOW ACTIVE - This secure online booking system is handled by Acuity Scheduling/Squarespace. 

Accepted are the following payment methods:
Credit cards: VISA – MasterCard - American Express

For most tour bookings (5 – 8 hours) we require full payment at the time of booking to secure the tour date.

For longer Multi-day touring a deposit of 20% is required to secure a booking. The deposit is calculated based on 20% of the overall tour price. An additional 30% is due 6 months prior to the tour date and the balance is due min 30 days before the tour date. Full payment can be made at any time.

You may be eligible to receive a full or partial refund depending upon:

• the reason for your cancellation
• the number of days prior to the start of the tour your cancellation request is received by Customer Support
• the amount of non-refundable upfront costs that Down East Tour has incurred as a result of preparing for your tour

Any cancellation by you must be initiated by telephone to Down East Tours at 1-902-222-2934 or via e-mail

In certain cases you may be eligible to receive a full or partial refund depending upon:
• the reason for your cancellation or
• the number days of prior to the start of the tour your cancellation request is received or
• the amount expended by Down East Tours to prepare for your tour

Down East Tours is not responsible for any incidental expenses you may have incurred as a result of the purchase of your tour such as visas, vaccinations, non-refundable flights or loss of enjoyment, etc.

Please contact us if you have any questions about our cancellation policy.

Standard Cancellation Policy

If you cancel or cannot take your tour as a consequence of force majeure, Down East Tours will refund the amount you have paid for your tour to a limit $1000 CND. If you have paid more than $1000 for your tour, Down East Tours will refund the amount you have paid less any non-recoverable out-of-pocket costs Down East Tours has incurred on your behalf - car rentals, admissions, hotel reservations, tickets etc. We may require you to provide verification to
confirm that you were unable to take your tour if you request a refund under this provision.

Force Majeure includes impersonal events such as war, civil insurrection, strikes, volcanoes, extreme weather, earthquake or natural disaster that makes it dangerous or impossible to safely undertake the tour. The determination of what constitutes 'Force Majeure' is at the discretion of Down East Tours. However, a travel warning issued by the Canadian Government or US Department of State AFTER you book your tour invokes 'force majeure', you are covered under this 'Force Majeure' provision.

For cancellation due to any other reasons (such as illness, change of personal circumstances), the date on which the request to cancel is received by Down East Tours will determine the refund due as follows:

If you cancel 60 days or more before the start of the tour: No cancellation fee. We will refund the amount paid less any non-recoverable upfront costs incurred by the Tour Guide on your behalf. These upfront costs represent out of pocket expenses of Down East Tours for tickets, transportation deposits and other non-recoverable tour expenses.

If you cancel 59 to 30 days before the start of the tour: 10% administration/cancellation fee applies.

If you cancel less than 30 days before the start of the tour: 50% cancellation fee.

If less than 14 days before the start of the tour: 100% cancellation fee.

Send us a message with what you have in mind.  We can customize an existing Tour with a few changes or create one from scratch based on your interests.  We can communicate these changes via phone or email and will send a Customized Tour for your review before confirming your booking.
Hotels – We offer pickup directly at your hotel location and will generally meet you in the lobby.

Rail - Bus Station - We offer pickup directly at the Via Station/Bus Station -- Your guide will have a sign with your name on it and are usually easy to find.

Cruise Ships – Please note that ships time and local time may vary (we are on local time). Your guide will be waiting for you in a designated area and we keep up to date for docking piers and times. Your guide will have a BLUE sign with your name on it and are usually easy to find. See further information in the FAQ related to Cruise Ships/Guests

Other Locations – We are extremely flexible in pickup and drop off locations please contact us  directly to arrange a suitable location.
This is a great question.  The time a ship is in port various from cruise ship to cruise ship.  

With all tours we aim to have guests back 1.5 hours before departure (1 hour before last call).

This is for a couple of reasons.
- Allows us 'flex time' to take into consideration of any unforeseen delays such as traffic.
- Allows any last minute shopping in the port.
- Allows you to board early and beat the rush of people returning

So if your ship in in dock from 9am to 5pm, we would aim return time for 3:30 PM. Last call for boarding would be 4:30 PM.

I generally recommend starting the tour as soon as possible. This allows us to sometimes miss the first rush of buses going to the most popular sites. (especially if there are multi ships in port)

Once docked, typically guests are receive within 15 - 30 mins, depending on when passengers are released. This can be longer if there are delays with customs or long line ups. (or confusing what time it is)*

So for the above 9am to 5pm, receiving guests at 9:30 AM gives us a maximum time of 6 hours on tour to return back to port for 3:30 PM. Therefore, any of my 5 or 6 hour tours would be suitable.

If guests are a little earlier, then we will get on the road a bit earlier. If slightly later, then it may be possible to take into consideration some 'flex time' ...keeping in mind the last thing we want to do is rush back to port. We will not push time limits like other companies may do and wheel into port at last call.

If you have any questions at all, please reach out though our Contact Page.

*Final note:   All tours are based on LOCAL TIME not Ship Time.

In all pickup locations your guide will be in a visible area with a BLUE SIGN with your name on it.

Cruise Ships – Please note that ships time and local time may vary (we are on local time). Your guide will be waiting for you in a designated area and we keep up to date for docking piers and times. Your guide will have a sign with your name on it and are usually easy to find. If you don’t see one of us right away, don’t worry we may just be parking the vehicle.

Note the following:
Docking at Pier 20
Guide will be waiting outside in a visible area as you exit the main glass building doors showing Pavilion 20

Docking at 22
Guide is generally directly across the street in the parking lot as you exit the main glass building doors showing Pavilion 22, in a visible area

Docking at 23
Guide waiting outside in a visible area as you exit the main doors, showing Pavilion 23.

Guests are generally able to entered and cross through the main building. However, it is possible that you may be required to walk around the back side of the building and exit the gated/fenced area. Your guide will be in a visible area for you to find, either on the other side of the fenced area or by front of main building.

Docking at Pier 24
New for 2024 for tendered passengers.  Your guide will be waiting for you in the designated shuttle drop off area with a sign with your name on it.

We recommend starting the tour within an hour of the ship’s arrival. If your ship is late, don’t worry. We will still be waiting for you.

Spending money can vary depending on if you are shopping for gifts, etc.  I would budget up to $25-$50 for meals/drinks as meal prices vary from an average of $15 for fish and chips to market prices for lobster/meal averaging $30 plus.  Don't forget that Nova Scotia has local tax on most items of 15%

Local currency is in Canadian funds. Most places take US Currency.

**Note many places offer an exchange rate on the US dollar and will likely give change back in Canadian Funds, while other places take funds on par .... which means your one US Dollar is taken as one Canadian Dollar. Most places also take credit cards.  Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted.  Not all places accept American Express or Discovery.   Best to ask and confirm beforehand.
Our vehicle is a very comfortable Dodge Grand Caravan with seating for up to 6 passengers.
- Clean, Comfortable & Sanitized
- Air-conditioned
- USB Ports for phones/tablets
- Free WiFi on board
- Booster seat available upon request
- Seating arrangement - 1 in the front passenger: 2 in middle via bucket seats, up to 3 in the rear bench seat.

Max seating based on typical sized adults/children. The number of passengers should be reduced for over-sized/taller passengers to ensure comfort & accessibility.

Please note that there is limited storage in the rear. I may or may not be able to accommodate persons with a walker. Please advise in advance of any walkers so I can ensure there would be room on the day of the tour.

I am unable to accommodate wheel chairs for the most part. Case by case bases. Please contact for details.

I am unable to accommodate child/baby car seats.

*Please contact for larger groups based on availability.  I would either partner with another tour guide or charter a larger vehicle.
All passengers must be able to enter and exit vehicle on their own.   I do carry a sturdy step stool to help for those who need the assistance.

Please note that there is limited storage in the rear. I may or may not be able to accommodate persons with a walker. Please contact me ahead of time to ensure I am able to make room the day of the tour.

I am unable to accommodate wheel chairs.

I am unable to accommodate child/baby car seats.

For children who are not in a child/baby car seat, and require a booster seat, I can provide a one upon request.

Reach out with any questions at all. 
Have a question not listed here ?  Please send to us and we will respond and perhaps even add it here !
Thanks !