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Halifax to PEI: bridge or ferry?

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Halifax to PEI: bridge or ferry?

Hi there. I posted this in the PEI forum but am posting separately here.

My family is staying in Halifax for a couple of days before heading over to PEI for a week and then to Moncton for the last two days of our vacation. In PEI we're staying in Cavendish.

I was planning on taking the ferry over to PEI and the bridge from PEI to NB. I have another post on this forum about getting ferry reservations, so I know I can't get a reservation for the trip over on the ferry.

We have all the literature and I've read quite a bit. All the literature advises taking the ferry over to PEI because that's the traditional way to arrive, etc. I've never been to this part of Canada (we're from NY) so I was just following the consensus. However, tripadvisor member Monacd suggested time would be better spent taking the bridge.

I know the ferry is free and the bridge is not, but that is not a consideration for us because we're already spending a lot on this vacation. We're mentally preparing ourselves for the CDN $ to hammer the US $ while we're there.

What IS an issue is spending half a day waiting for the ferry, missing the first ferry, waiting for the second ferry, etc.

I was assuming the ferry ride was really special. We've got the Staten Island ferry (and the Ikea ferry!) here so I don't need to do this just for the experience of riding a ferry.

Any of your comments or thoughts--which are always so helpful--would be greatly appreciated.

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1. Re: Halifax to PEI: bridge or ferry?

It isn't as simple as the bridge is free and you pay on the ferry - you pay when you leave PEI and don't pay to get on to the Island no matter which mode of transportation you use.

Most people will enter one way and leave the other simply to get a better variety and see different scenery. The ferry isn't anything special but it is a nice relaxing 75 minute trip, particularly for the driver.


Nova Scotia
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2. Re: Halifax to PEI: bridge or ferry?

Hi there

If you are really not that interested in taking the ferry to PEI, by all means, I agree take the bridge. The ferry is a relaxing trip, but from someone who lived part of her life on PEI and now gets to drive the Confederation Bridge, I do that. The bridge itself is an engineering marvel. Plus, as you say, no reservations, no line ups, just get on and drive is a bonus.

pfound is correct though. It doesn't matter which way you depart PEI, by bridge or by ferry- that's when you pay.

Toronto, Canada
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3. Re: Halifax to PEI: bridge or ferry?

Personally, having done both, I far prefer the bridge. Fast, simple, pretty.

Lunenburg, Canada
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for Saint John, Foz do Iguacu, Iguazu National Park
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4. Re: Halifax to PEI: bridge or ferry?

Hi, NY!

Time to correct some popular misconceptions!

1) The ferry isn't free. Leaving Prince Edward Island, you pay a toll whichever way you go, either the bridge or the ferry. In either case, it's always free to ENTER Prince Edward Island, but youmust pay to leave. You can enter by one method and leave by the other, with no obligation to the ingress operator.

2) It takes the same amount of time to get from Charlottetown, PEI to Halifax, by bridge or by ferry. The boat sails slower, but the route by the bridge is longer.

By ferry, it's about 45 minutes drive from Charlottetown to the dock, about 1 1/4 hour sail, and 1 1/2 hours on the freeway to Halifax.

By bridge, you've got about 30 minutes drive from Charlottetown, about 15 minutes on the bridge itself, and 2 3/4 hours on the freeway to Halifax.

In either case, it's 3 hours 30 minutes. You may have to line up waiting for the boat to board. You may have to stop for gas or a snack on the freeway. (The ferry has a cafeteria.)

3) Although it's not metaphysically certain that you'll get on the very first boat, I've never had to wait beyond the very next sailing, You can look on the ferry website (Northumberland Ferries Limited or NFL is the company) to check traffic, and Prince Edward Island radio stations give announcements (or always used to in the pre-bridge days) if the traffic is backing up.

I can tell you with certainty, though, that the days of waiting a half-day for this ferry are ancient history, even in high summer. The bridge has taken a huge dent out of its traffic, especially if you aren't crossing in late afternoon of a Sunday or holiday Monday in July and August.


Truro, Canada
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5. Re: Halifax to PEI: bridge or ferry?

Back in the day when PEI was only accessible by the ferries from New Brunswick & Nova Scotia (excluding air travel), you could be in a line-up for hours. The trucks carrying goods to the Island got priority over cars. But since the Confederation Bridge now provides a faster way for trucks to reach PEI, the line-up for the Pictou Landing ferry is rare indeed. A family member travelled by the ferry twice a week in 2009 (May to December) & never once waited for the next crossing. Just pay attention to the scheduled times as they do change at different times of the year. Check nfl-bay.com

Nova Scotia
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for Nova Scotia
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6. Re: Halifax to PEI: bridge or ferry?

It makes sense for you to take the ferry over to PEI and the bridge back to New Brunswick. By the way you do pay to get off PEI, but you pay less at the bridge.

Cape Breton Island...
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7. Re: Halifax to PEI: bridge or ferry?

The key is really which day do you want the most flexibility as the ferry route does mean you have to schedule a bit but leaving the island is seldom a problem. You can travel cross country to the ferry from Cavendish a bit to just East of Charlottetown and then to the ferry , maybe 1 1/2 hours is the minimum time .

8. Re: Halifax to PEI: bridge or ferry?

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