Denise Goldberg's blog

Monday, March 23, 2009

Are these fares fair?

It's past time for me to have my 2009 vacation plans in order, and yet... It's been a winter of wandering the web, dreaming, thinking, considering, and not making a definite decision. My thought of the moment is that I'll be wandering off to Newfoundland, a very large island, one that is a large number of miles from home.

I think that I'd like to spend some time in Gros Morne National Park on the western side of Newfoundland, and I'd like to wander at Cape Breton Highlands National Park on the eastern end of Nova Scotia. That makes me lean towards a land and sea journey as opposed to a flight. If I fly, it will probably be a Newfoundland-only trip, and honestly? The air fare is a bit outrageous. The price of the ferry from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland seems reasonable to me, but the ferry on the end closer to home is a bit pricey. Hmmm...

I'm still considering 2 options - to stay on dry ground from home to the east end of Nova Scotia before I roll aboard a ferry, or to start my trip with a ferry ride from Portland, Maine to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

You do want to know what prompted my question "are these fares fair?", don't you?

The ferry from Portland, Maine to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia covers 180 nautical miles in about 5 1/2 hours, while the ferry from North Sydney, Nova Scotia to Port aux Basques, Newfoundland covers 92 nautical miles in 4 1/2 to 6 hours. That's assuming that I sail from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland during the day because the night crossing is said to take 4 1/2 to 8 hours. I wonder why...

Oh, you want to know how I came up with the nautical miles? I played with Daft Logic's Google Maps Distance Calculator, a nice little tool.
But back to the ferry fares... I was a bit blown away when I saw the rates for the two ferries. I suppose the Portland to Yarmouth ferry should cost more since it covers more water.

From Portland to Yarmouth, it is $164 for my car, plus a $25 fuel surcharge, and $99 for me, a total of $288 in US dollars. The ferry between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland is much more reasonably priced, at $88.84 for my car, $31.34 for me, a total of $120 in Canadian dollars - which at today's exchange rate (according to is $97 USD. That's quite a price difference, isn't it? I can understand the Portland to Yarmouth fare being twice as much given the distance and the faster boat, but almost three times?

OK, OK, it's not really about the money - that just rubbed me the wrong way. As I look at a map, I realize that I'd like to do some wandering on the Bay of Fundy side of Nova Scotia, territory that I didn't cover on my two-wheeled wander there back in 2006. (And I'm amazed at how fast time has flown; it doesn't seem possible that trip was three years ago!) So if this becomes my long trip for 2009, it's likely that I'll take the Cat from Portland to Yarmouth, then return home by land once I do a two-way water trip to Newfoundland.

Gros Morne & Cape Breton Highlands, playing with cameras, hiking, and a bit of biking? It's still a dream, but it is a dream that is starting to feel like it just may become reality.