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After two canceled seasons during the pandemic, the CAT high-speed ferry from Maine to Nova Scotia, Canada, is set to resume service next spring.
Bay Ferries Ltd., the Canadian company that operates the international service between Bar Harbor and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, announced its plan online.
"As with air service, restarting an international ferry route requires substantial upfront investment which is impossible to recover in a very short season," the company said. "Commencing in spring 2022, we will restore service between these incredible destinations."
The announcement comes eight months after Bay Ferries suspended its 2021 operating season in early February because of COVID-19.
In its latest announcement, the operator noted that it remains unclear when the international border will be open for travel in both directions and looks forward to welcoming passengers back next spring.
Alf Anderson, executive director of the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce, welcomed news of the ferry's planned return next year.
"It means a return of visitation from our neighbors to the north, which our community has missed over the past two years," he told Mainebiz. "Canadian travelers enjoy coming to Maine in all seasons, so their visits on the CAT will undoubtedly drive business in the spring and fall months, which is key to growing the economy of Bar Harbor, Mount Desert Island and other parts of the state."
The high-speed CAT ferry travels between Bar Harbor and Yarmouth, Novia Scotia, in three and a half hours.
For 12 operating seasons going back to 1998, the CAT transported 1.7 million passengers from Maine to the fishing ports of Nova Scotia's southern shore. Originally traveling from Bar Harbor, the service added Portland to the route in 2006 and later traveled only from Portland until a terminal lease with the city expired in 2018.
Service from Bar Harbor was to have resumed in 2019 after the town bought the terminal where the CAT docked there, only to be held up by construction and permitting delays.
While the province of Nova Scotia has a long-term contract for the CAT ferry service through the 2025 operating season, the 2020 and 2021 seasons were canceled because of the pandemic.
The idling of the ship has drawn criticism in Canada because of the $1 million annual fee Bay Ferries continues to earn from the government for management of the CAT.
When the ferry does run, passengers spend an average of $2,200 each in Nova Scotia. That amount exceeds exceeds the average visitor contribution, of around $1,450.
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