Marine Atlantic reservation line swamped with calls

Brodie Thomas
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Debbie Anderson was in a bit of a bind Friday morning. The Vancouver, B.C. woman was, like thousands of others, trying to get through to Marine Atlantic to check her reservations.

“I have been on the phone consistently since they opened this morning,” she said. “You press one for reservations and the line just goes dead.”

Anderson was in Newfoundland for a business trip. She was trying to get out around Corner Brook for a bit of down time before her scheduled Sunday morning crossing, but was instead glued to her phone and computer.

“I’ve got a flight to catch on Monday,” she said. “Today’s the cutoff to cancel, otherwise we’re going to be charged for it.”

Marine Atlantic Spokesperson Darrell Mercer said the reservation line is getting an unusually high number of calls since the incident with the MV Blue Puttees on Wednesday.

He said yesterday’s decision to take the MV Atlantic Vision off the Argentia run and move it to the Port aux Basques run has only increased the phone calls.

“We estimate there are approximately 5,000 customers impacted on our Argentia service, and a lot of those people are trying to make contact on our 1-800 line,” said Mercer.

He said passengers with upcoming bookings will be contacted by Marine Atlantic before their crossing through the customer contact system.

He said it’s too early to say how crossings in the coming weeks will be impacted, but those customers will also be contacted as the new schedule is finalized.

By 1 p.m., Anderson was successful in getting through to Marine Atlantic and getting peace of mind.

“They have advised that sailings should be okay but to call again tomorrow evening to double check,” said Anderson.

She was also assured that she would be contacted if the sailing times changed at all.


Puttees update

Mercer said the Blue Puttees departed Port aux Basques for North Sydney last night.

The ship will be put into drydock so repairs can be made to the bulbous bow. Marine Atlantic is estimating that the ship will be out until the end of August.

The investigation into what caused the Puttees to run aground and strike a wharf in Port aux Basques on Wednesday is still ongoing.

Mercer said Marine Atlantic is cooperating with investigators from the Transportation Safety Board. Marine Atlantic’s investigation so far has not found any signs of mechanical malfunction.

Organizations: Marine Atlantic, MV Blue Puttees, Transportation Safety Board

Geographic location: Port aux Basques, Newfoundland, Corner Brook

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Recent comments

  • NB tourist
    August 08, 2013 - 07:10

    We were in when this happened and had a reservation for Sat night. Not only did I get a call from MA telling me we were sailing on time we were also given a 4 berth cabin. I think they did a good job under the circumstances. I have been crossing every year since 84 and I always give myself a few extra days in case stuff like this happens.

  • Gloria
    August 03, 2013 - 01:04

    Time to build that link....This should be part of the trans canada Highway, don't know of anyone anywhere paying these kind of prices for travel on the TCH, just saying!!! OR give us back our railway.

  • Robyn taylor
    August 02, 2013 - 21:00

    I think it's crazy they need to inform people.

  • denise stewart
    August 02, 2013 - 20:19

    OMG! This is our Trans Canada Highway to and from the mainland.! Why is Marine Atlantic working on a 0 margine of error with no back-up plan????? I pay for this ....I am expecting more!

  • InCB
    August 02, 2013 - 19:19

    Crossing early Monday. Got an email, home phone call & cell phone call that time departure has changed by 5.5 hrs today. Pretty good notice if people would just give them a chance to contact them. I got a feeling that many didn't put 2 phone numbers and a email to get notices.

  • tom power
    August 02, 2013 - 17:41

    hey MA employees, out here in fort mac we preach safety. Any chance u can introduce that into your doctrine. my folks are stuck in N. Sydney waiting for a boat.

  • A regular
    August 02, 2013 - 17:18

    I travel to the US from Argentia to NS every year and have been for the last 10-12 years.Every year this is getting worst,last year we ran into problems which cost me an extra night in a hotel at the extra cost of $150.00 not including my families meals,now keep in mind this boat cost us almost $1200.00 return with a cabin both ways this did not include meals,we were refunded $200.00 per person which was three of us,but the catch is it expires this year,so we onlyhad this summer to use it.I,m done with Marine Atlantic I love the drive but this year I flew they can keep their vouchers,people say be patient try traveling every year with this crap.I don't need the head ache.

  • saelcove
    August 02, 2013 - 16:41

    Will the people that have to drive across the province be compensated

  • Deb
    August 02, 2013 - 15:28

    Why didn't they set up a recorded message for anyone who had a booking to let them know what was happening? Why did they not put a banner message on their website telling people how to find out about disruptions to sailings? Why didn't they send out a blanket email to all booked passengers to let them know what to do? Communication is the key ALWAYS. Maybe MA can learn from this?

  • Eli
    August 02, 2013 - 14:23

    An incident like this is an obvious nightmare for any transportation company. No way a company can keep a boat or airplane valued in the millions on a "just in case" basis. I don't have an answer to the Port au Basque problem but to penalize passengers on the Argentia route is disgusting. There should have been a contingency plan in place where a replacement can be obtained quickly in the event of mechanical failure.

  • Zelda
    August 02, 2013 - 14:19

    Plane tickets to replace the boat tickets, and use of a rental car while in Newfoundland.

  • Annie
    August 02, 2013 - 13:41

    Anon- have you checked their website? There is an update and seems like it's pretty helpful- I think people need to show a little empathy. The people taking calls, contacting customers and providing updates are people like the rest of us. It makes sense customers are frustrated, but I imagine the folks at Marine Atlantic are also frustrated and doing their best to work as fast as they can. Let's all try to have a little understanding.

  • Llewellyn
    August 02, 2013 - 13:23

    I'm personally affected by this. If the Puttees will be out until the end of August, why are they only using the Argentia boat for a couple of weeks? Oh how I love living on an island :(

  • Anon
    August 02, 2013 - 12:54

    I know there must be a lot of chaos for Marine Atlantic now & it is for this reason I think they should be communicating better with the public. Booked customers & customers who plan to book between now & the end of August need more information. Marine Atlantic needs to post information on their website not just say the ferries are sold out. Updates will reduce customer & potential customer frustration & reduce the number of calls Marine Atlantic is receiving.