The Ocean train, Halifax to Montreal
One of the most popular overnight train journeys in Canada takes you from Montreal in Quebec to Halifax in Nova Scotia. Travelling very comfortably on board the Ocean train, this one night 836-mile journey is fun for all ages. The train has been carrying travellers from Montreal to Halifax for over 110 years, giving those onboard a glimpse of the regions where European settlers created the foundations for early Canada. Leaving the French-speaking city of Montreal guests board the train in the early evening, arriving the following evening in Halifax, the famous Atlantic Ocean city in Canada, noted for its maritime history.
Prices from: Can $366
Departing from: Montreal Central Station
Journey length: 1 night
The Ocean train journey
The Ocean leaves Montreal Central station at 19.00 three times a week (Wednesday/Friday/Sunday), arriving in Halifax at 17.51 the following day. The journey takes you from Quebec’s South Shore to the stunning clapboard houses of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. And when you arrive in Halifax, you’ll get to see the famous lighthouses that signal danger to those sailing on the wild north Atlantic. As well as getting to enjoy the scenery as you travel through Canada, guests also get to enjoy wine tastings, musical entertainment and maritime history lessons on the train.
The Ocean train
Most of the train consists of modern air-conditioned Renaissance cars with a distinctive turquoise livery. While at the rear of the Ocean you’ll find a vintage stainless steel 1954 dome-observation ‘Park’ car. This is used as the lounge for Sleeper Plus class passengers.
Sleeper carriages on The Ocean train
The Ocean train offers guests the chance to travel two ways – in economy class reclining seats or Sleeper Plus carriages.
Reclining seats – the Renaissance seats cars were purpose-built for overnight journeys so if you’re young or strapped for cash (or both) they’re not too bad to sleep in. They recline deeply and are quite roomy. Most seats face forward, but some seats are built around a table – so are perfect for families.
Sleeper Plus class – there are two types of these – those with a washbasin and toilet and those with an ensuite that includes a shower. They are the same price, so it makes sense to book ahead and grab one with a shower. If you are travelling solo, you will pay the same price as two people who share the same carriage. Each Renaissance sleeping carriage has an upper and lower berth and all carriages are provided with bedding, towels, toiletries and bottled water. In the daytime the bottom berth changes into a sofa.
Food and drink
All passengers who are travelling in the Sleeper Plus carriages enjoy all meals in their fare. These are eaten in the restaurant car and table reservations for dinner are taken before your meal. The dinners are three courses, and everything is included except for alcoholic drinks which you must pay for separately. The food is good and plentiful with plenty of variety for carnivores and vegetarians too. If space is available, those travelling in economy class are allowed to use the restaurant car but they have to pay separately for their meals.
On either side of the restaurant car you’ll find Renaissance lounge cars. The one situated by the economy seats is the Economy Class lounge. This sells snacks, tea. coffee and alcoholic drinks. The other one is for Sleeper Plus guests who use it as a place to wait for their restaurant table. Sleeper Plus passengers also get exclusive access the vintage Park car at the rear of the train where they can enjoy complimentary coffee, tea and soft drinks.
There is no specific dress code for this train, so you are free to wear what you want. If you’re not a native North American, make sure you take enough warm clothing as it can get very cold in the winter months.
You will be rubbing shoulders with lots of Canadians who enjoy discovering their own country and tourists who want to see Canada by rail instead of by plane.
All meals are included for those Sleeper Plus passengers.
Pros and cons
This is a great way to see Canada’s most unexplored regions from the comfort of a great train. The all-inclusive fares are a great idea too. The only downside is that if you’re travelling economy you won’t be able to enjoy the fun of travelling in the vintage Park car.