Every Journey Matters: Marine Atlantic Ferries to Newfoundland
Get ready and fasten your seatbelts! We’ve just returned from an Epic Canadian Road Trip, driving from our home in Kalamazoo, Michigan all the way out to St. John’s, Newfoundland (yes, a ferry was involved). Why? Well, I’m the co-founder of Writing Walking Women, and we chose St. John’s as the site of our conference this year – MUCH more on that to come! And, our daughter, Lillie (13), said that every teen should have an epic road trip. SO.
Here's part of our journey - one of the most fun parts: taking the ferry from North Sydney, Nova Scotia, to Argentia, Newfoundland. We traveled with Marine Atlantic Ferries, and it was an EPIC journey, each way. Here's what happened - and some ferry tips, for those of you inspired to travel to Newfoundland via ferry (highly recommended!).
To take the ferry to Newfoundland, you arrive at the ferry terminal in North Sydney, Nova Scotia. Don't worry - the highway signs are very clear in directing you. Even if you get lost a lot, you won't here (hopefully I didn't just jinx you). Be sure to arrive in plenty of time - follow the instructions on the website, but definitely a few hours before departure.
You'll park in lines according to when you get there. Handicap parking lines are closest to the terminal, and will be boarded first. Marine Atlantic Ferries are extremely accessible - here's more about our experience.
The terminal in North Sydney is new - and beautiful! Be sure to head inside - there's a variety of things to see and do, including free wifi, art, a giftshop, and upstairs, a lovely photography exhibit of the ships in Marine Atlantic's history. But what you'll find is what you'll experience on your entire journey with Marine Atlantic - friendly people. It's their hallmark, I believe - and they provide outstanding customer service, and what's more, customer care. This is rare in today's world, and so I was pleasantly surprised.
So, you're hanging out in the terminal, perhaps scoping out the Newfoundland recipes and taking photos so you can make them later (ahem), and an announcement will be made to return to your vehicles. They board the handicap lanes first, so that you can take the time you need to get onboard and to your cabin.
Recipes? Yes, please...
Tips for Taking the Marine Atlantic Ferry to Newfoundland
You can make a reservation online or by calling. I tried both and preferred calling, so that I could get the accessibility help I needed. The website is clean and easy to use (you'll find that you will refer to it again and again when planning your arrival to the terminal, and also how to get onboard, what to bring, etc.). The customer phone support is friendly (even as far as restaurant recommendations before boarding - thank you, Heather!).
How to Take the Ferry
You can walk on or take a vehicle.
You can rent a cabin, or just hang out in the airplane-like seating they have in several areas onboard. I highly recommend renting a cabin. They go fast, so be sure to book early if you want one! They contain beds (bunks or queen), a desk, and some cabins have a washroom.
Accessible cabin (and view!)
The long hallways...
There are many restaurants onboard the ship - so you can pick what you'd like to eat, from family-style to gourmet! There is a snackbar-type restaurant too - with plenty of coffee (whew). There is also a bar up near the front of the ship, on the 7th floor. There will be an announcement when they open and close according to arrival and departure.
Don't worry, the bar will open once the ship sets sail...
There's a gift shop!
Did you know you can bring your pet? There's a room for them with kennels, AND a walking area on deck.
How to Pass the Time
Right when you get onboard and settled, head to the main desk to look at the list of games - and check one out! We whiled away many an hour with Monopoly. There's also a tv in each room, and a WHOLE movie theater with lovely seats. You can also sit in the colorful seating area at the front of the ship, and listen to live entertainment and watch the sea progress in front of you. There's a children's play area (so cute!). You can also play cards on your table in your room, play video games in the entertainment area, or even SLEEP. Oh, the sleep we had on that ship was the best sleep in my life. We got a ship tour - but that's for another article.
Weather permitting, be sure to spend some time outside on the deck on the 10th floor. You can take great selfies, watch for whales and porpoises, check out the ship, and breathe in the fresh, salty sea air.
Selfie with Sr Chief Steward Albert Edwards
We ferried into Argentia, Newfoundland, and disembarked easily. When we made the return trip and landed in Nova Scotia, we had to go through a washing station to be sure we didn't bring back anything unwanted, on our car.
The Best Part of Marine Atlantic
The people. They are so caring - from our reservations help from Heather to the people guiding us onto the ship to Senior Chief Steward Albert Edwards' very kind help, the people are what make Marine Atlantic special. When you receive this level of care, you want to journey again and again with them. Albert noted that each ship's crew is like a small village - about 100 people, and they are on for 2 weeks at a time. You see this camaraderie and smoothness of working together in all onboard interactions. It's remarkable, and worth noting.
I also met with Marine Atlantic's St John's staff, and was so impressed with the scope and vision of Marine Atlantic. Their purpose of providing the best customer service is unsurpassed in the travel industry - and each person I have spoken with has shown me this, again and again.
Selfie with MA Ferries St John's travel media team: Ashley Roche and Darrell Mercer
Marine Atlantic Ferries St John's, Newfoundland office memorabilia (above and below)
Myself with ship's captain Allan Keeping, Atlantic Vision
You can see this in this amazing profile of a pair of seasoned travelers, who have made traveling Marine Atlantic part of their lives:
Have you taken Marine Atlantic to get to Newfoundland? What was your favorite part?
More Goodness! My guest post over at The Journey:
All photos courtesy and copyright Wandering Educators