Are you ready to brave the open seas and make your way to a rocky island where mountains meet the sea? Taking the ferry to Newfoundland is an adventure in itself and one of the best ways to arrive on the rock. Whether you want the feeling of a luxury cruise, are looking for budget options, or want to take your RV with you, we are giving you the scoop in this guide to taking the ferry to Newfoundland.
Come on, let’s set sail!
Newfoundland is an island province on the eastern side of Canada that joined the Canadian Confederation in 1949.
Or as the locals vehemently corrected us, Canada joined them!
Often called the “edge of North America” it is home to the easternmost point in North America, where you can see the first rays of light touch the continent!
With Viking history, the infamous iceberg alley, National Parks that are home to vast forests, dramatic fjords and ancient cliffs, and amazing wildlife (puffins, whales, and moose galore!), Newfoundland is a travel destination that will surely steal a piece of your heart.
Dubbed “the rock” due to its rocky terrain, rugged coastline, and cliffs, Newfoundland is full of raw, untouched beauty.
Not the photoshopped, airbrushed kind.
The kind that wears its scars loud and proud, unapologetically.
Unspoiled and one of the few gems that is not overly developed, it feels like one of those places you don’t want to share so that you can keep it all to yourself.
But lucky for you, we don’t gatekeep here!
And we know you will adventure responsibly, protecting the world’s most beautiful destinations for years of enjoyment to come.
Best time to visit Newfoundland
We left Nova Scotia on the Marine Atlantic ferry late in the evening on July 1st, with a Canada Day fireworks send-off and all!
We arrived in the early morning of July 2nd and although initially had a few days of rain and clouds, enjoyed spectacular weather for the rest of our time in Gros Morne and for the rest of our trip.
As the locals tell it, Newfoundland has about 3 weeks of great weather a year in the month of July. From our experience, this was spot on.
Newfoundland gets on average over 60 inches of rain a year, with precipitation over 200 days a year.
May and June are popular months to visit for iceberg viewing along the northern side of the island, which can extend into July depending on the year.
We were lucky to visit in July, have great weather, and see icebergs, puffins, and whales during our trip!
Did the breathtaking scenery and majestic wildlife bring tears to my eyes?
Early summer to early fall will be your best bet for visiting Newfoundland, with earlier months being better for iceberg viewing, the middle of the summer potentially having the best weather and wildlife opportunities, and fall being quieter and filled with beautiful colors as the seasons turn.
So how do you get to the land of whales, oceans, mountains, moose, puffins…. you get the picture.
READ MORE: The Ultimate Guide To RVing Newfoundland
How to get to Newfoundland
A true island, there is no way to drive to Newfoundland. The Trans Canada Highway does pick back up on the rock, but it is separated by the sea.
The two main ways to travel to Newfoundland are by plane or by ferry:
Newfoundland has 3 main airports that most commercial flights will fly into:
- Deer Lake Airport (western side of the island)
- Gander International Airport (north/central island)
- St. John’s International Airport (eastern side of the island)
For reference, a flight from Boston to St John’s NL in July can cost anywhere from $700-$900 or more roundtrip
There are 3 main ferry ports and ferry routes servicing travel to Newfoundland as well:
Ferry from Nova Scotia to Port Aux Basques or Argentia (via the Marine Atlantic Ferry):
- Chanel Port Aux Basques in southwestern Newfoundland, offers year-round service to and from Nova Scotia, typically 2 times per day
- Argentia on the Avalon Peninsula offers seasonal crossings to the eastern side of Newfoundland Juen through September 3 times a week
Ferry from Quebec/border of Labrador to St. Barbe Newfoundland (via Labrador Marine Inc):
- St. Barbe on the western side of Newfoundland across the Straight of Belle Isle from Blanc Sablon on Quebec’s southernmost coast on the border of Labrador offers ferry crossings year-round
The Marine Atlantic ferry from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland is not your typical ferry.
Picture a cruise ship-like vessel complete with restaurants and game rooms and add on around 3 vehicle decks packed with cars, RVs, and tractor-trailers. Picturing it?
The kind of ship that leaves you wondering how on Earth THAT floats?
Yup, you’ve got it! That’s what to expect.
So…how long is the journey and how much does it cost? Let’s rip the band-aid off and dive into the nitty gritty:
How long is the ferry from Newfoundland
Ferry to and from Nova Scotia to Port Aux Basques or Argentia
The Marine Atlantic ferry route between North Syndey Nova Scotia and Port Aux Basques Newfoundland is 96 Nautical Miles and takes about 7 hours.
The ferry terminal in North Sydney Nova Scotia has a dog park, restrooms and seating areas, and access to the local town where you can dine or enjoy a seaside ice cream while you wait for your voyage
Example 2023 North Sydney/Chanel Port Aux Basques Ferry Schedule:
The Marine Atlantic ferry route between North Syndey and Argentia is 280 nautical miles and takes around 16 hours.
The Argentia ferry terminal has bathrooms, a seating area, a dog park, and at times a local food truck serving up hot dogs!
Argentia/North Sydney Ferry Schedule (2023-2024):
Ferry to and from Quebec/border of Labrador to St. Barbe Newfoundland
The shortest route is between Blanc Sablon in Quebec and St. Barbe, which takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes for the roughly 23-mile journey.
Keep in mind that Blanc Sablon and Labrador are remote!! It is a 28-hour journey from Quebec City up to Blanc Sablon.
Ferry to Newfoundland Cost
To be as transparent as glass, a ferry trip to Newfoundland is not necessarily cheap. Especially if you want to bring your car or RV with you, or spend the passage in a comfy bed in a private cabin.
The good news is there is SO much to see on the rock. We recommend spending at least a few weeks in Newfoundland to make the trip (both the cost and the amount of travel involved) worthwhile. And even that will most likely not feel like enough time.
We covered over 2,000 miles (2,900 km) in five weeks on the island and still have things on our bucket list we would love to go back and see.
Marine Atlantic Ferry Fees & Costs
For a ferry crossing with Marine Atlantic between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, you can expect to pay anywhere between $70 for basic walk on tickets to over $2,000 (CAD), depending on the routes you choose, whether or not you are traveling with a vehicle or RV, and the accommodations you are comfortable with.
And for our fellow Americans, when booking your ferry crossing, you will ultimately see the price with the current conversion rate come out of your bank account.
The longer ferry between Argentia and Nova Scotia will be more expensive than the shorter ferry between Sydney and Port Aux Basques. This said, if you want to explore the eastern side of Newfoundland as well as the western side, it will take a while to backtrack all the way back to Port Aux Basques.
No matter how you design your itinerary, the ferry to Newfoundland is part of the fun and adventure of visiting this magical place!
Here is a basic rundown of pricing for the different Marine Atlantic ferry crossings to Newfoundland:
One way prices for the shorter North Sydney/Port Aux Basques passage (prices in CAD):
- Passenger tickets start around $35 (any additional vehicle, accommodation, etc. will be in addition to the price of your ticket)
- Two-berth cabin with washroom and shower starting from $54
- Four-berth cabin with washroom and shower starting around $58
- Pet-friendly four-berth cabin starting around $100 (although for our particular crossing, it came out to $199)
- Deluxe cabin with queen bed, washroom, shower and fridge with complimentary water/juice/pop starting around $250
- Reservable seats start around $12
- These are more private, reclining seats behind a keycard door, as compared to first come first serve seating around the ship
- Passenger vehicles start at around $100
- Dog kennel spaces start around $17
Important Note on Taking The Ferry With Your Dog: The kennel area on both ships we sailed on were small rooms on the outside deck of the ship. We saw multiple people nearly in tears having to leave their dogs here, stating it was not what they pictured it to be like.
As those crazy millennial dog parents, we were relieved to have reserved a pet-friendly cabin. In case you are like us and your pup is more like your child than a pet, know that these cabins sell out quickly and are extremely limited so book in advance and snatch them up while you can!
**We booked our ferry crossing 7.5 months in advance and were able to secure a pet-friendly cabin
You can also leave your dog in your car/RV (with windows open and with food/water), but you will NOT be able to return to them at any point during the crossing
One way Prices for the longer ferry passage between North Sydney and Argentia (prices in CAD):
- Passenger tickets start at around $99
- Standard Vehicles/Automobiles start at around $207
- 2 or 4 berth cabins start at around $200
- Pet-friendly cabins start at around $275
- Dog kennel space start around $17
- The longer 16-hour Argentia ferry can be tough for dogs. If your dog is in the kennel you will be able to visit them, and let them out to use the (very small) relief area throughout the passage. We found our dog to settle right in with us in the pet-friendly cabin and remain calm throughout the longer passage (and she tends to be a bit of an anxious dog)
- Deluxe cabin with queen bed, washroom, shower, and fridge with complimentary water/juice/pop starting around $450
Our total cost for our ferry trip from Nova Scotia to Chanel Port Aux Basques and back from Argentia to North Sydney for 2 passengers with pet-friendly cabins each way and our dually truck and 38-foot fifth wheel was:
- $1,970.40 (CAD) (which worked out to be around $1,500 U.S.)
For a cost breakdown and tips for taking the ferry to Newfoundland with your RV jump to:
St. Barbe – Blanc Sablon (Strait of Belle Isle) on the Qajaq W.
If you plan to head to Newfoundland from Quebec, you will be traveling with Labrador Marine Inc.
Check out the rates for passenger tickets and rates for vehicles and RVs of different lengths below:
Taking the ferry to Newfoundland with an RV
We might be a bit biased…but RVing is the most magnificent way to experience the magic of Newfoundland.
And the great news is that the ferries to Newfoundland make it pretty seamless to bring your favorite adventure mobile with you for the journey of a lifetime.
How to prepare your RV for the ferry ride:
- Turn off propane
- Ensure all of your connections are secure (if you towed without any mishaps to the terminal you should be good, but a walk around never hurt anyone)
- We disconnected our 7-pin connector once we boarded to limit any battery drain
- We also decided to put our emergency brake on (in the truck)
- Secure all inside items to limit shifting and damage during the trip
- Turn off lights, A/C, water pump etc. to limit battery draw
Cost of taking the ferry to Newfoundland with your RV or Vehicle
Different rates are charged for vehicles and RV’s of various categories and lengths:
Marine Atlantic Nova Scotia/Newfoundland Ferry RV Rates:
Blanc Sablon-St. Barbe Ferry RV Rates:
They measured our truck and fifth wheel at a combined 58 feet 10 inches:
- For the 7-hour crossing from North Sydney to Port Aux Basques it cost: $339 (CAD) + $44 Vehicle Fuel Surcharge
- For the 16-hour crossing from Argentia back to North Sydney it cost: $697 (CAD) + $90 Vehicle Fuel Surcharge
Taking your RV with you to Newfoundland makes the trip much more expensive (accounting for just over $1,000 of our $1,900 bill). It also opens the door to even more immersive experiences exploring the bountiful nature on the rock.
Camping is often cheaper than hotel stays around Newfoundland and you can camp for free in many places around the island if you are creative and keep your eyes peeled for places where there are not any “no overnight camping” signs.
Ready To RV Canada? READ MORE: RVing to Canada From The US: Best Border Crossing Tips
What to expect during your Newfoundland Ferry Crossing
Traveling via different modes of transportation than you are used to can be stressful. If you are like me, there is no better feeling than knowing exactly what to expect.
So here is a play by play of what to expect when taking the ferry to Newfoundland, from checking in to the passage itself, and getting off at your destination:
Ferry Check-In Process
When arriving at the ferry terminal you will pull into an open lane at the gate, which looks a lot like a toll booth.
You will give the attendant your confirmation number to check in and someone will measure your RV or vehicle, if you will be planning to travel with it.
If you have propane you will be asked to shut that off and given yellow tags to attach to your propane tanks, confirming that they have been closed off.
You will be given your passenger ticket (which you should carry with you at all times, along with your ID) and your room keys, if you booked a cabin or reserved seat.
At that point, you will be directed to a certain number lane in which to park and wait for boarding.
The earliest you can check in is 3-4 hours before departure time and boarding typically starts 60-90 minutes prior to departure time.
As a heads up, you may also get chosen for a random security check (we know because we did – we should’ve played the lottery with that luck!). In our experience, this was no big deal at all. Two kind people looked around our RV and truck and sent us on our way after about 10-15 minutes total.
Boarding The Ferry
As departure time comes closer, the terminal starts to buzz with activity.
Machines move large trailers onto the ship with amazing ease and accuracy and buses, cars, SUVs, and RVs start boarding (on some ships this happens on two levels simultaneously)!
Someone will come around and scan your ticket(s) and you will be directed to get in line to pull onto the ship once it is your turn.
Then you get to experience being swallowed by a whale, leaving behind the outside world for the belly of steel which will soon carry you (and in our case our home) across the ocean. IT. IS. SO. NEAT.
Park your vehicle where you are directed, make sure your lights are turned off, grab everything you need, and prepare to move to the upper decks of the ship for the passage! You will not be able to return here until you disembark at the end of your journey.
There is something freeing about feeling the breeze in your face as you shove off the dock and out into the abyss. And of course, any pirate puns are welcome at this point.
On some Marine Atlantic ships there will be large upper decks where you can enjoy the journey outdoors, but there is always plenty to experience inside as well.
From game rooms and movie theaters to restaurants and lounges, there is plenty to fill your time. We loved the overnight crossing (both of our trips were overnight “red eye” type ferries) and having a private cabin to relax and sleep in comfortably.
One thing I did not expect is how much we were a rockin’!
You will feel the boat moving back and forth with the rhythm of the waves, so prepare yourself for that. You (hopefully) won’t be thrown from your bed or anything… but as you walk about you will find that your walking becomes more of lacksadaisical zig-zag than a beeline.
Worried about oversleeping or missing important announcements? You won’t.
Announcements will be made over a PA system throughout the ship and in the cabins. You can turn them down (a little), but they still come through loud and clear – in English and in French.
Disembarking The Ferry At Your Destination
Hooray! Land ho! You made it to the shores of the new found land! (Don’t worry, the locals will teach you how it’s actually pronounced).
Expect a slight delay between pulling into port and being able to access the vehicle deck. Announcements will be made with instructions and elevators will be held and staircases roped off, causing pile-ups of anxious travelers.
Our advice? Stay put and wait for the signal. Then, run! Just kidding…kinda.
Once the vehicle deck opens it is a bit of a mad dash. We took our time, only to get to our truck and see the cars in front of us already pulling off.
You will pull out the opposite end of the ship you entered on (phew, no backing out).
Important notes for your ferry crossing
- Have your ID, room key card, and ticket with you at all times. Remember the number of the parking deck your vehicle is on!
- Prepare a bag with essential items like medication, clothes, toiletries, electronics, and chargers for the crossing, and remember to take it with you from your vehicle. You cannot access the vehicle deck at any point during the crossing.
- Pack something to settle your stomach if you experience motion sickness/sea sickness (there are also bags around the ship if you need them)
- Check ship dining hours to prepare accordingly for your crossing
- If you have a pet-friendly cabin, you are not supposed to leave your dog unattended in the room, so plan accordingly if you want to move about the ship or grab food and drinks (as these places do not allow dogs either)
Covering 43,000 square miles there is so much to see and do as you explore the charming and colorful coastal communities of Newfoundland.
And the adventure begins the moment you step onto the ferry.
The people of Newfoundland are kind, welcoming, and resilient. Each new town feels like visiting a long-lost relative and provides the opportunity to learn about the storied past and unique heritages of the people of Newfoundland.
Listen for the different dialects and accents throughout the island, experience the local culture, and get lost in the moss-covered forests and on the tantalizing towering cliffs.
What are you waiting for?
Book that ferry ticket, pack your gear, and prepare for a truly fulfilling travel adventure.
Plan Your Trip To Newfoundland
Marine Atlantic & Newfoundland Ferry Resources
- Current Nova Scotia/Newfoundland Ferry Schedules
- Marine Atlantic Ferry Booking
- Current Quebec/Labrador to Newfoundland Ferry Schedule
Places to Visit
Here are a few of our favorite places (more articles & travel guides coming soon)!
- Gros Morne National Park
- L’anse Aux Meadows & St. Anthony
- Terra Nova National Park
- Bonavista & Trinity
- St John’s & The Avalon Peninsula
- The Irish Loop
Things To Know About RVing in Newfoundland
- There are restrictions and rule to be aware of when crossing the Canadian border with your RV! Read More: RVing to Canada – Border Crossing Tips
- To be safe, we recommend filling up propane and fuel before leaving the mainland. You will come across propane filling at some campgrounds and RV parks. You are also more likely to find it in more populated areas (Corner Brook, Deer Lake, St. John’s) that offer larger stores (like Canadian Tire).
- Fuel stations can be few and far between; plan ahead!
- Expect limited service (50 amp is rare in most campgrounds)
- You can boondock in many places as long as there aren’t any no overnight camping signs
- Roads can be really rough; expect a bumpy ride
- Areas can be very remote, with limited cell service (we relied on Starlink for connection)
- Produce can be hard to come by (and expensive) and you can’t bring plants, potatoes, or soil off the island. They will check for this before leaving the island and heading back to the mainland
- Moose encounters on the roads are a potential danger, especially during dawn and dusk. Always be vigilant
- Consider a travel credit card (we love our Chase Sapphire Reserve as it has 0 international fees and helps us build travel points for future trips) or have Canadian money on hand (most places accept credit and have tap to pay, even the toll booths. Go Canada!)
- Be prepared for higher taxes; 15% HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) can sneak up on you
There are more tips about RVing Newfoundland where this came from…
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