Labrador, Cartwright to Happy Valley-Goose Bay via MV Sir Robert Bond, Aug 11 & 12, 2008

16 10 2010

Boarding the MV Sir Robert Bond

I am devoting a whole post to our trip on the MV Sir Robert Bond because it was our most distinctive ferry trip in Canada so far, not in a good way, and one which I doubt (and hope) will never be surpassed. Cartwright does not have a ferry terminal parking lot, so a couple of hours before our 5pm departure an announcement over a loudspeaker prompted all the vehicles to proceed willy-nilly to the loading bay of the ship, where ferry workers then sort of fitted them in the best they could, sometimes replacing the driver of the vehicle in order to back it in or otherwise squeeze it on (we met some people on the ship who’s trailer tent was broken this way, but they said it wasn’t the workers’ fault, and they had to break it or leave it).

Once we were on the Sir Robert Bond, around 5ish, we noticed a posting of meal service hours that stated dinner was served only between 4pm and 6pm. This was somewhat puzzling as nobody was  even on the boat at 4pm, and it looked like some might not be on it at 6 either, the way things were loading. After dumping our stuff in our 2 bunk stateroom (thank you, Step, for having the amazing foresight to get a room) we went as directly to the cafeteria as we could, which was not very, since the Sir Robert Bond has all kinds of narrow corridors, lounges, and staircases. The whole ship reeked of despair and kerosene. We found the cafeteria in the bowels of the boat, with low ceilings and a lot of pipes overhead. We may have been luckier to have not found the dining room at all, it turned out. For SOME REASON not even I can fathom, I selected a wilted brown salad which turned out to be inedible, a side of previously frozen vegetables which were so chewy they may have started as wooden coffee table ornaments, and one of the two entrees offered, fries and chicken wings. Step, to my alarm, ordered the grey, oily beef chow mein. This was served to us on metal trays by a silent, dermatologically challenged youth in white, and we paid a scowly older woman who merely grunted at our pleasantries. As we sat down at our plastic chairs I said to Step “I feel like I’m in jail, but I’m having to pay!”. The only thing edible on our plates were the fries, although I did choke down a carrot medallion and a few chicken wings as well. (Subsequently on our travels, when we told people of our trip on the Sir Robert Bond, they inevitably would ask “How was the food?”, and we found out any experienced Robert Bond goer packs a lunch. I can only imagine no one warned out because it’s some kind of perverse Newfoundland and Labrador insider joke to make you eat it. Why? Why? I did not know NLers could be so cruel).

Dining Hall of the Sir Robert Bond

Instructions in our State Room

We hadn’t showered for a really, really long time, so when we got our parole from the “Dining” Room, we got some thin little towels from our stateroom and headed for the washroom, where my shower stall had clogged pipes, and the water started sloshing into the main floor fairly shortly. Nonetheless, I was grateful for the desperately needed shower, even though our towels wouldn’t dry again after that, so our stateroom smelled of DAMP despair and kerosene for the rest of the trip. This was still preferable to the crowded mini lounges with loud TV’s on the SitCom channels, where many travelers spent the night.

Not everything about the Sir Robert Bond experience was bad, though. It was old but everything was really clean. Also, it has wireless internet! Yahoo! And there was a lot of outdoor space you could walk around in, and people were friendly. It was kind of stormy but even so people went outside, (maybe because the ship was smelly and crowded?) and we met the broken trailer people who I wish I could remember their names because we saw them many times in the next few days. They speculated the trip was way behind schedule because the Captain was avoiding the storms, which made sense to us.

Fresh Air!

There is also a bar on the ship, where we had a packaged snack, a drink, and some computer screen time. The woman at the bar concession was from Newfoundland and really chatty. She told me the black berry I had eaten on Flagstaff Hill might have had a worm in it, and that locals only eat the berry after the first frost because of the worm, but the worm wouldn’t hurt me. Ugh. (this wasn’t like succulent Pacific Northwest blackberries that grow on brambles, but a small, round berry that grows on bushes near the ground).

After a restless night, we had coffee in the dining car, but no food, and we docked at Happy Valley-Goose Bay. We had been on the Sir Robert Bond for 15 hours, and it felt miraculous to be back in the Boogie Bus. I swore to never complain about BC Ferries again.

People Hang out on the deck of the MV Sir Robert Bond




3 responses

1 03 2013
Jocelyne Pilgrim

Good to know, Thanks Guys, I will benifit from your suffereing if I ever have to take that ferry.

12 01 2014
Ian MacDonald

Haha, yeah the Bond used to be a very enjoyable sail when Marine Atlantic ran the show, but when the new company took it over, everything went to hell.

12 01 2014
Ian MacDonald

I think I’ve sailed that ship about 30 times in my life.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: