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Bay Ferries NFL - Northumberland Ferries Limited

Announcing The CAT Ferry Service Nova Scotia to Maine — Summer 2016

That’s right, The CAT ferry is back!

Summer of 2016, after six years away, The CAT ferry will be zipping passengers between Portland, Maine and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

Once again, the fastest way to get from Maine to Nova Scotia is The CAT. You’ll experience the Maritimes the way they’re meant to be seen — by sea! The CAT is fast, with a crossing time of just 5.5 hours (about half the time it would take to drive from Portland to Yarmouth).

With plenty of onboard amenities and a knowledgeable staff and crew, your journey will be more than just fast — it will be downright pleasant.

Travel Maine to Nova Scotia on The CAT

Friends, Relatives or Kids Ride Free Learn More »
Fast Ferry Fuel Up We’ll Help Pay for Your Fuel Learn More »
Vacation Packages Plan your escape to Nova Scotia on The CAT Learn More »

Fact Sheet

  • Sailing Season Start

    June 15 is the scheduled commencement.

  • 2016 Departure Schedule

    Portland, Maine departure will be at 2:30pm EDST and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia departure at 8:30am ADST.

  • Onboard Amenities

    Gift shop, food service, movie lounges, kids' play area, and visitor services area.

  • Passenger and Vehicle Capacity

    Seating configurations will be finalized during the vessel’s upcoming work program, but passenger capacity will be at least 700 (approved capacity was 866 during her previous service). Vehicle capacity will be in excess of 200 regular passenger vehicles.

  • Fares, Promotions and Package Sales

    Discounted rates will apply in certain circumstances, e.g. round-trip travel or advance booking.

  • Booking Reservations

    We expect to begin taking reservations online and through our contact centre on or around April 11, 2016.

  • Crossing Time and Distance

    The distance between Portland, Maine and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia is 185 nautical miles, which is equal to 212 statute miles or 341 kilometers. Estimated crossing time is 5.5 to 6 hours.

  • Commercial Truck Traffic

    The service will not serve commercial truck traffic. The City of Portland, which owns the ferry terminal, was not prepared to permit commercial trucks to travel on the ferry service.

  • Motor Coach Traffic

    Yes, we will carry motor coaches which will have a separate inventory and tariff.

  • Passenger Accessibility

    All public areas on the ship are wheelchair accessible.

  • Ship's Crew and Vessel Maintenance

    Because the vessel is US-flagged and must remain so during the charter, US law requires that we use a US crew. Seaward Services Inc. a US company, will provide onboard crewing and custodial care for the ship for the US Military Sealift Command for the term of our agreement. Because the vessel will be overnighting in Nova Scotia, fuel and most supplies will be purchased in Nova Scotia and vessel maintenance will be undertaken by a Canadian crew based in Nova Scotia.

  • Arrival at the Port

    Please arrive at the terminal a minimum one hour prior to sailing.

  • Pet Policy

    We have capacity to transport dogs and cats in our kennel area. Guests traveling with pets should book as far in advance as possible to ensure availability. Appropriate veterinarian-issued certificates may be required.

  • Passport Requirements

    Bay Ferries' Yarmouth to Portland Service is an international ferry service, so proper international travel documents are required. Please check with Canadian Border Services Agency - - and US Customs and Border Protection - for more information.

  • Information Required for Reservations

    When making your reservation, please have the following information ready:
    • Passport (or other acceptable identification)
    • Dates of birth for everyone in your party
    • Credit card (be sure to use correct billing address)
    • License plate number (if you’re bringing a vehicle)

  • Employment Opportunities

    When opportunities become available, we will post them on our website and also the Canada Job Bank at

  • Finding a Suitable Ship

    Our company engaged in an extensive process of locating a ship for this service.

    A relatively small category of ships can appropriately serve the Yarmouth/Portland route. There are size and speed requirements and the operation must be as economical as possible. Additional factors include the cost of compliance by imported vessels with international technical and environmental standards. The commercial terms must also be reasonable, i.e. Where is the ship? How much does it cost to deliver and re-deliver the ship? Do we have to charter the ship on a year-round basis? What is the vessel value and the charter cost? Will the ship be marketable to the public and provide a good customer experience? All of these issues factor into "finding a ship".

    We embarked on this process with business plans as to how we would proceed with a conventional ferry and how we would proceed with a high-speed ferry. We engaged three brokers worldwide and provided them with our vessel criteria.

    In November 2015, we zeroed in on two prospective candidate vessels. One was the high-speed Alakai; the other was a conventional ship. We did not foreclose other options which might arise; to the contrary, we encouraged all other options. By mid-December, it became clear that the conventional ship we had targeted was not available. In the meantime, in late November, we made our initial proposal to Military Sealift Command concerning Alakai.

    In December 2015 and January 2016, the US Navy and Military Sealift Command carefully considered whether this kind of transaction was possible under the laws governing their operation. In early January, we commissioned a comprehensive technical evaluation of Alakai. Eventually, Military Sealift Command determined that this type of transaction could take place using a concept known as an Enhanced Use Lease whereby a military asset is leased to a private contractor on mutually beneficial terms. The ferry service received strong support from US Senator Angus King of Maine together with Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and the Mayor of Portland, Ethan Strimling.

    After Military Sealift Command undertook its mandated process, direct negotiations took place between Bay Ferries Limited and Military Sealift Command. Negotiations were extremely complex because of the unique and innovative nature of the charter contract. The contract was signed on March 24, 2016.

  • The CAT Brand

    After more than six years since the previous CAT was in service, our research indicated that The CAT brand still resonated with travellers throughout the North Eastern United States. There was extraordinary brand recognition throughout New England (one Boston survey indicated 88% recognition – and The CAT continued to attract strong internet search traffic six years after closure of the previous business) – and our company has continued to market our other ferry services in New England. We consulted with senior travel industry leaders. Given the strong awareness for the brand and the fact that the new vessel is also a high-speed catamaran, it was natural to bring back The CAT branding as it will lower barriers for the new service to enter key markets for the service.

  • Comparison with previous CAT

    Our company is very proud of "The CAT" and the two ships branded as The CAT moved nearly 1.7 million people between Maine and Nova Scotia over 12 seasons. High-speed ferries and conventional ferries each have well-documented strengths and weaknesses. This catamaran has a slightly different hull form which is the same hull form used by the US Navy in its class of Joint High-Speed Vessels. It has a higher "tunnel clearance" and performs differently in certain sea conditions but, when the ocean is rough, so are most vessels.

  • Contact Information

    Portland Terminal
    12 Ocean Gateway Pier
    Portland ME, 04101

    Yarmouth Terminal
    58 Water street
    Yarmouth, NS B5A 1L3

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