The sailing schedule and fares of a summer ferry service from Portland to Nova Scotia are taking shape, even as the city continues to negotiate with the ferry operator.

Portland officials have reached a tentative agreement on a sailing schedule for The Cat, the high-speed ferry that will run between the city and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, this summer. Assuming the Portland City Council agrees and U.S. Customs officials also give the go-ahead, the ferry will arrive in Portland daily at 1:30 p.m. and depart an hour later, said Jessica Grondin, the city’s spokeswoman.

She said a few other details must be wrapped up on the contract between the city and Bay Ferries Ltd., the ferry operator, but the contract could go to the council this month or at its first meeting in May, depending on how quickly an agreement is reached on those details.

The city has been trying to coordinate the ferry’s schedule with cruise ships, which are expected to bring about 100,000 visitors to the city, primarily in the late summer and early fall. The vessels use the same facility – the Ocean Gateway terminal on Commercial Street – to board and discharge passengers.

City Manager Jon Jennings said he wants the ferry to arrive after the afternoon arrivals and departures of cruise ship excursions. Those excursions take passengers on short bus trips, usually to Kennebunkport or Freeport, and Jennings has said he’d like to avoid adding hundreds of ferry passengers to the mix of people on the eastern waterfront.

Bay Ferries has resisted moving the departure time to later in the day to avoid getting to their destination late at night. With a 2:30 p.m. departure, the ferry will arrive in Nova Scotia at about 9 p.m., after a 5½-hour trip and accounting for the one-hour time difference between Eastern time and Atlantic time zones.


The ferry service is expected to begin June 15. Bay Ferries has already posted the schedule, with a 2:30 p.m. departure from Portland, on its website, along with fares for the new season. It will cost adult passengers $107 one way, and $194 round trip. Car rates are $199 one way and $275 round trip.

There are lower rates for children and senior citizens, and the ferry line is offering discounts and promotions, particularly for the beginning of the season.

Bay Ferries takes over the service after two years of disappointing results with the previous operator, Nova Star Cruises.

Comparing rates between the two services is difficult. Nova Star, which took nearly twice as long to reach Yarmouth, launched with a $79 fare for a one-way ticket for the first three weeks of the season, but then increased it to $99 per person from May 22 through June 11 and Sept. 9 through Oct. 11, and to $129 per person during the peak summer season – June 12 through Sept. 8. Car costs ranged from $129 to $179.

The base fare didn’t include things like cabin rentals or reserving a reclining chair for passengers who wanted to sleep during the journey, but not rent a cabin.

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