Mechanical breakdowns weren't slowing down Marine Atlantic ferries earlier this week — it was the housework.
On Monday, Marine Atlantic was so far behind transporting vehicles and people across the Gulf of St. Lawrence between North Sydney, N.S., and Port aux Basques, N.L., that it put three of its ferries on a load-and-go basis.
Sue Irvine, the Canadian Auto Workers union representative for some Marine Atlantic employees, blames making beds for the delays. The newest ferry in the fleet, the Atlantic Vision, has 200 cabins — three times the number on another Marine Atlantic ferry, the Caribou.
"The cleaning of those cabins is a little more labour-intensive than our other cabins were because each bed has a duvet and it has to be changed in a pillow-case type of cover. So it does take a lot more time," she said.
The extra cleaning adds a few hours to the ferry's turnaround time, and the company wasn't prepared for the change, according to Irvine.
Marine Atlantic spokesperson Tara Laing said the company is trying to fix the problem.
"We're adding additional staff coming up in the next couple of days now. We're starting to bring them on now actually. Their key priority when the vessel docks is to get the rooms cleaned," she said.
The company is also looking at changing its loading plan so that rooms can even be cleaned while vehicles are being loaded, something that should help shorten loading times, Laing said.