The Ocean is the name of the Via route that runs from Montreal To Halifax three times per week. Here’s a few quick tidbits on the journey. As with the previous blogs, blue text can be clicked on for links to further details.
Distance: 1346 kilometres
Duration of Trip: 23 hours (ish). Leaving at 7 PM and arriving at 6:00 PM the next day.
Cost: $275 for 2 people in economy (no meals and you sleep in your seat)
First Class: $825 for 2 people including room with shower, beds and 3 meals
So the big question is … is it worth it? Via had a sale on with the route 40% off, and I get an extra 10% off due to my Canadian Actor’s Equity membership. So when you consider you are getting a train trip, a night of accommodation, 3 meals each and you wind up on the East Coast … well at the discount rate, it was worth doing for the cost of $425 after discounts for us both. It was a much different experience than our Amtrak trip a few years back, which was 3 days and 2 nights from Chicago to San Francisco. For details on that trip go to our blogs about the California Zephyr . We liked the layout of our room better on the Via train, but the Amtrak route was less costly on a per day basis, and although the food was good on Via, the Amtrak food surprised us and was better (cooked by a chef instead of prepared like an airplane meal).
Read on to see what the Via experience on this route was like.
PRIOR TO BOARDING, SLEEPER PASSENGERS HAVE ACCESS TO THE VIA LOUNGE WITH FREE POP, JUICE, COFFEE, TEA AND NEWSPAPERS AND MAGAZINES
AT 5 PM WE CHECKED IN, GOT OUR WRIST BANDS THAT DESIGNATED US AS SLEEPER PASSENGERS, AND MADE OUR DINNER RESERVATION FOR THE LATE SEATING AT 8:30 PM. WE ALSO CHECKED OUR LUGGAGE
AT 6 PM IT WAS TIME TO GO TO THE PLATFORM AND BOARD THE TRAIN
EACH SLEEPER CAR HAS 10 ROOMS ALONG ONE SIDE OF THE TRAIN WITH A NARROW HALLWAY THAT RUNS PAST THE DOORWAYS
THE ROOM IS IN THE DAYTIME POSITION WHEN YOU ARRIVE AND THE CAR STEWARD GREETS YOU AND ASKS WHAT TIME YOU WANT YOUR BEDS MADE DOWN
OUR COMPARTMENT HAD ITS OWN BATHROOM WITH A SHOWER. TOWELS AND TOILETRIES SUCH AS SOAP AND SHAMPOO ARE PROVIDED
STORAGE SPACE IN EACH CABIN IS LIMITED SO IT IS WISE TO LEAVE MOST THINGS IN YOUR CHECKED LUGGAGE AND JUST BRING THE ESSENTIALS IN YOUR HAND LUGGAGE … LIKE A BOTTLE OF WINE AND SOME SNACKS FOR ALONG THE WAY.
IT WAS TIME TO EXPLORE THE TRAIN. EACH ROOM IS KEYED SO THAT YOU CAN LOCK YOUR DOOR WHEN YOU LEAVE YOUR COMPARTMENT
IN THE CENTRE OF THE TRAIN IS A SNACK BAR WHERE YOU CAN PURCHASE DRINKS AND SANDWICHES
ONE CAR AHEAD OF THAT IS THE DINING CAR
Meals are served with linens and on china plates. Our meals were tasteful and served hot. Each meal comes with a choice of two appetizers, a choice of three entrees and a dessert with coffee, tea, pop or water. Meals are included in your sleeper class ticket, but wine is extra. We paid the extra $7 per glass for the wine pairings. The food is prepared in advance and heated, but it tasted good. On the first night I had a lovely chowder, a fish meal with turbot, steamed vegetables (which were crisp and properly warmed through) and rice. The dessert was a mint chocolate cake. Breakfast and lunch are also included in your ticket. Breakfast doesn’t take reservations and lunch … well they are supposed to take reservations, but there was a communication mix-up on our train. We wound up eating breakfast at 7:30 in the morning and lunch at 2:30 in the afternoon. Fortunately, we had those wine and nibbles in our cabin to keep us going. Economy passengers can dine in the dining car if they pay (there is an a la carte menu with prices that we didn’t get a look at) as long as there is room after the sleeping car reservations are dealt with. Otherwise, they bring their own food, or purchase from a snack bar at the front of the train.
THE SLEEPER CARS AND THE BULLET LOUNGE AT THE BACK OF THE TRAIN ARE RESTRICTED TO THOSE WHO HAVE A WRIST BAND
THIS IS THE MURAL LOUNGE WHICH IS A PRIVATE LOUNGE FOR SLEEPER PASSENGERS. IT OCCUPIES THE FRONT CORNER OF THE REAR CAR OF THE TRAIN. IT HAS ITS OWN BARTENDER WHICH IS NICE BUT YOU STILL PAY FOR ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES
IF YOU CLIMB UP THE STAIRS, THERE IS A PRIVATE OBSERVATION CAR FOR SLEEPER PASSENGERS
THE BULLET LOUNGE HAS 24 HOUR FREE COFFEE, TEA, JUICE AND FRUIT
AFTER EXPLORING THE TRAIN, IT WAS TIME TO SETTLE IN FOR HAPPY HOUR IN OUR CABIN. ON THE WALL IS AN EMERGENCY CALL BUTTON, HEATING AND COOLING CONTROLS AND LIGHT SWITCHES FOR VARIOUS MOODS. THE BATHROOM LIGHT STAYS ON ALL NIGHT, WHICH MEANS IF SOMEONE IN YOUR CABIN USES THE RESTROOM IN THE NIGHT, IT FILLS THE CABIN WITH LIGHT
WE BID FAREWELL TO MONTREAL
Tomorrow … how to sleep and shower on a train. But first … dinner.
FENTON & WHITE