French ferry workers on strike

Moira Baird
Published on August 5, 2011
The workers who operate Le Cabestan, the ferry that runs between Fortune and the French islands of St-Pierre-Miquelon, have been on strike since Monday. But travellers may be hard pressed to find out about the service disruption or what happens if reservations are cancelled due to the strike. — Transcontinental Media file photo

Workers who operate the government-run passenger ferry that sails between Newfoundland and the French islands of St-Pierre-Miquelon went on strike Monday.

That may be news to tourists booked on Le Cabestan.

One visitor’s advice: confirm your booking before heading to Fortune.

That saved Dave Finch of Thunder Bay, Ont., a fruitless drive from St. John’s to the tip of the Burin Peninsula.

He was originally booked on the 55-minute ferry crossing Thursday morning to spend a day and a half visiting friends in St-Pierre-Miquelon.

Instead, he and another friend are now scheduled to sail Friday.

“The ferry company was good and recommended the competition basically and they were nice enough to respond to a friend’s email, which was good,” said Finch.


Different schedules

“But … the schedules for the two services are very different. It means we’ve had to jiggle around our schedule.”

“It’s not the end of the world, but it’s a little inconvenient.”

Finch was directed to another ferry operator, SPM Tours.

The company, which offers package tours to St-Pierre-Miquelon, has its own ferry, MV Arethusa.

“We’ve got a ferry going twice a day,” said Alec Noseworthy of SPM Tours in Fortune.

The MV Arethusa leaves Fortune twice daily from Monday to Saturday, and once on Sundays.

Noseworthy said ferry bookings are available, though the company has a number of previously scheduled reservations from tour groups and bus tours.

Finch said it’s unfortunate he didn’t know ahead of time about strike.

No one from the French government ferry service contacted him.

“Had we not made the inquiry we would have shown up in Fortune and Fortune would have been a bad joke — it would have been most unfortunate to be in Fortune.”

Simply checking Le Cabestan website wasn’t much help Thursday.

The St-Pierre-Miquelon ferry website ( makes no mention of a service disruption or what to do if your ferry reservation is affected by the strike.

The French government ferry service can be reached by telephone at its Fortune ticket office at (709) 832-8766 or by email:

The Telegram was unable to reach anyone at the Le Cabestan’s ticket office in St-Pierre who could provide additional information.

Phone messages left Thursday were not returned by deadline.