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sitting for a day waiting for the ferry?

Level Contributor
680 posts
14 reviews
38 helpful votes
sitting for a day waiting for the ferry?


We have reservations for the Marathon Inn on Grand Manan Island, for 3 nights in late July. We were planning to drive from Acadia NP to Blacks Harbour, and were prepared to have to wait maybe an hour or two in line, before getting on the ferry to Grand Manan.... but I recently came across a ferry website that stated that during the high season, often people have to sit and wait a whole day (24 hours!!) in advance to get onto the ferry, inching their cars up every hour or two as each ferry departs.

Can anyone tell me if this is true? If it is we might need to change our plans. If it makes any difference, we would be going over to Grand Manan on a Sunday (but we could wait until Monday if that would be any better in terms of ferry service).

Any info would be appreciated!!


Richmond, VA
Level Contributor
24 posts
11. Re: sitting for a day waiting for the ferry?

I just returned from Grand Manan and have a few points about the ferry.

We had no problem getting to Grand Manan. We arrived at 7 AM and easily made it on the 7:30 crossing. The captain had the crew practice a "man overboard" drill on the trip over.

Returning was a different story. Our preferred ferry was the 7:30 AM crossing on Sunday, August 9. We had asked several locals about the ferry being crowded and all seemed to think it would be fine. We were on a bird watching boat at 7:30 on Saturday and had no cell service to call the ferry office. When we returned to the island at noon, I called the ferry office. The earliest available departure on Sunday was 3:30 PM. They had sold out all of the earlier ferries.

This is where things the system seems crazy. We had a choice of putting our names on the list for the 3:30 ferry or putting our names on an earlier "standby without reservations" list, but not both. We decided to go with the 3:30 ferry along with the third option of "standby with later reservations."

On Sunday morning we showed up at 8:45 for the 9:30 ferry. Inside the ticket office I told them the situation and was added to the "standby with later reservations" list. Other people came in and depending on what they told the ticket person, they were either added to the "standby" or "standby with reservations" list.

Around 9:15 they started calling names from the "standby" list and lining them up for the ferry. Finally they started on my list and we lined up. We got to the pay booth and after sitting a few minutes, were told that the car in front of us would be the last.

We started the entire process over again for the 11:30 ferry. This time we were first on the "standby with reservations" list. Many more people came into the office for the "standby" list. This time they didn't even call my list. At 11:25 the ferry radioed up to say they had room for one more car. All of the vehicles in the line happened to be trucks or vans, so we got to get on.

Perhaps this was unusual, but the whole process was very frustrating. The printed schedule on the web site doesn't say that on certain Sundays the early ferry is mostly taken up with hazardous waste trucks. The 9:30 ferry isn't even listed. If we had known in advance, we could have adjusted our schedule. One group we had met decided to leave on Saturday night since they had to be home by afternoon on Sunday and couldn't get an early reservation.

If leaving at a certain time is important, either make plans to be at the ferry office or by a phone at 7:30 AM the day before. We later found out that our boat captain had made a call for another group on our boat. We could have asked him.

I still don't understand why there are two types of standbys. It was frustrating to watch someone walk in after you and still get on the ferry because you were being honest about having a later reservation.

This might have been the only day of the entire summer like this, but it does happen!

Grand Manan is a great place to visit, but just be informed!

St. George, Canada
Level Contributor
295 posts
102 reviews
273 helpful votes
12. Re: sitting for a day waiting for the ferry?

Having been raised in Blacks Harbour and just returned from Grand Manan, it is recommended that you make your return reservations upon arrival at the ferry office (as previously pointed out by TidesInn).

Btw, The Tides Inn B&B in Blacks Harbour is a great spot to stop over and get a early start to Grand Manan. Hope you enjoy your stay in beautiful Charlotte County!

Richmond, VA
Level Contributor
24 posts
13. Re: sitting for a day waiting for the ferry?

The only place I have seen mention of getting return tickets when you arrrive on Grand Manan is on this forum. It's not on the web site or given as information when you call the advertised number. I called the number for a reservation well in advance and was told I could only do so the day before. I saw over twenty people come in the ferry office for advance reservations and all were for the next day.

One of the people coming in to the ferry office while I was waiting was our inn owner making a reservation for the next day. One of our trip operators came in with relatives trying to get on an earlier ferry than they had reservations for and was unsuccessful.

Again, maybe it was the one day during the summer with issues, but people were having problem leaving when they wanted. I had a terrific time on the island. Just keep in mind not to make reservations for any activities on the island early in the day in case you can't get on an early ferry.

Nova Scotia
1 post
1 review
8 helpful votes
14. Re: sitting for a day waiting for the ferry?

Not true! I have been travelling to Grand Manan at least 20 times a year for the past eleven years, and have never had to wait more than two hours for a ferry (and that was my fault, I dawdled getting there). In the peak season, ferries run every two hours -- you are well advised to get to the one you want about 90 minutes before departure. In Black's Harbour, ferries start at 7:30 a.m. and run every two hours, except after 5:30 p.m. when the next (and final) ferry is at 9:00 p.m.

Richmond, VA
Level Contributor
24 posts
15. Re: sitting for a day waiting for the ferry?

Everything I have written is completely true and happened to me. The date was August 9, 2009. On August 8 at 12:15 PM, the earliest available ferry for reservation the next day was 3:30 PM.

On August 9th we arrived at the ferry office at 8:45 AM and were the last car to get on the 11:30 ferry by going standby. There were at least 6 cars left behind us. People coming in for the 11:30 ferry were given reservations for the 5:30PM ferry.

This was leaving Grand Manan.

I don't post as much as much as read what others say, but I felt like I needed to add to what the guide books say.

It might not ever happen to anyone again, but would be a shame if you had airplane reservations that you missed. I was glad that I hadn't made any nonrefundable reservations for the afternoon at our next destination.

Grand Manan
1 post
16. Re: sitting for a day waiting for the ferry?

I think this was one of the very very few days the Grand Manan V was broken down and the smaller ferry had been put in service. It was a completely different service then the regular one.

If you want to be on the ferry you arrive at least 1 hour ahead of the trip you plan to board. Then as soon as you know when you are leaving the island you call the ticket office at 506 662 3724 and make a reservation one day ahead of when you depart. I know I live on Grand Manan and it's hardly ever down with repairs like it was that week. Hope this helps.

Portland, Maine
Level Contributor
277 posts
133 reviews
117 helpful votes
17. Re: sitting for a day waiting for the ferry?

For travel in off-peak times, such as mid-September through October, is it advisable to make a reservation for the return trip? We are from Maine and are hoping to do a weekend trip to Grand Manan this fall, probably going out late afternoon on a Friday and returning Sunday afternoon. I'm a bit confused on when you can make the reservation -- is it one day before your planned return trip, or can you make it on the island as soon as you arrive?

St. George, Canada
Level Contributor
295 posts
102 reviews
273 helpful votes
18. Re: sitting for a day waiting for the ferry?

I was at the ferry landing today and speaking with one of the guys working the dock. He said that outside of July-August, most people get on the boat and don't have to wait for the next ferry. Worst case scenario is that summer run may require you to wait for a second ferry.

19. Re: sitting for a day waiting for the ferry?

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