The Via Rail Montreal to Halifax train travels six times a week each way between Montreal and Halifax. The "Ocean" leaves Montreal at 6:45 p.m. and arrives in Halifax at 5 p.m. the following day.
In summer, there are two sleeping car classes, the Easterly and Comfort Sleeper and a regular "Comfort" class with a reclining seat. Buses connect in Moncton for Prince Edward Island at 11 a.m.
Via Rail's First Class Services
From mid-June to mid-October, first class passengers can choose from two classes of sleeper car accommodations.
Easterly Class is the high season upgrade from the regular Comfort Sleeper class which includes three meals and more importantly, access to the double-decker observation (Park) car where the best onboard activities take place.The “Comfort Sleeper“ class includes the same cabins but meals are not included and you do not have access to the observation car.For the $50 or so extra per person, it's best to go for the full first class or Easterly Service. In low season the two services are the same. Ask when you book. One way, high season per adult was $267.00 for Easterly class and $213.00 for Comfort Sleeper Class in 2008.
Easterly Class Service
From mid-June to mid-October the superior Easterly Class includes, in addition to the three meals, a maritime learning component.
Specially certified heritage guides present interesting tidbits of maritime history en route.
In Truro, Nova Scotia a young woman of Acadian descent informed us that the murals painted along the back of the station serve two functions: to depict scenes of Truro's history and to curb graffiti. As the train pulled out of the station, she pointed out life - size wood carvings found throughout the town that pays tribute to the skills of native Mi’kmaq.Further on towards Montreal, we learn that the salt water marshes surrounding Sackville, New Brunswick are excellent transmitters of radio waves.
As the train rolled on she handed out samples of local wines and cheeses and talked about the French communities east of Montreal.Complimentary coffee, organic teas, fresh fruit, chocolates, newspapers, and magazines were always on hand in the Park car as well. Comfort Sleeper and regular Comfort Class passengers have access to a lounge with large windows, free movies, newspapers, and magazines. Games and activity booklets are available for kids.
Sleeping on Via Rail
Unless you're traveling in a party of three or more and reserve the large bedroom, you'll find yourself in the Renaissance car with two berths, a toilet and sink and a large picture window. The deluxe models have showers too.
Although foam earplugs are provided you may want to bring your own. I find the cotton and wax ones work well. An eye mask is a good idea as regulations require glow in the dark safety notices to be posted in all cabins.Single travelers will fare better in the upper and lower bunk cabins as the top bunk can be used for extra storage and the second mattress adds to the comfort of the narrow bunk.Regular Comfort Class passengers are provided with a complimentary blanket and pillow and a reclining seat.
Eating in Easterly Class
Each of the three included meals offers three choices, though to ensure you get your first choice, opt for the first dinner setting. Best bets include the maritime fish chowder and the salmon. Local wines (not included) are a bargain at $5.00 and $7.00 per glass.
For next day's lunch, opt for the beef sandwich with caramelized onions or the jumbo shrimp Caesar. The eastbound breakfast menu offers an omelet and French toast (for those with a sweet tooth) and a hot (flavored oatmeal) or cold (granola) continental with plenty of fresh fruit and yogurt.On the westbound trip from Halifax to Montreal, only the hot or cold continental is offered as the train is scheduled to arrive in Montreal at 8 a.m.Comfort Sleeper and regular Comfort Class passengers can buy hot and cold meals from a take out counter.