A ferry route from New England to Canada that shut down long before the U.S. border closed during the pandemic expects to start back up soon.
The Cat ferry from Maine to Nova Scotia has announced that it plans to provide service between Bar Harbor, Maine, and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, beginning next spring.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, the ferry's return would be the first time a ferry has run between Bar Harbor and Canada in more than a decade.
In its most recent iteration, the Cat ran between Portland and Nova Scotia for 2016, 2017 and 2018 seasons until a lease with the City of Portland expired.
Prior to that, another ferry served Portland and Yarmouth in the 2014 and 2015 tourism seasons.
Bay Ferries Limited, the Canadian ferry operator, says it expects its new Bar Harbor Cat service to begin sometime just before or on Memorial Day 2022, but an exact date has not been set.
It expects to offer a departure from Yarmouth in the morning on days the ferry operates, with its expected arrival in Bar Harbor happening around noon.
The ferry would begin its return to Yarmouth around 3 p.m.
"Speaking for the business community, I think everybody is excited for this to finally come to fruition," said Alf Anderson, the executive director of the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce. "We've really missed our Canadian travelers here over the last two years."
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For Bar Harbor, the return of the ferry ends a three-year delay that was caused in 2019 by construction work on a ferry terminal in the town. The border being closed in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19 extended that wait.
In the interim, work has also been done on the ferry's other terminal in Yarmouth, according to the town's mayor, Pam Mood.
"What I'm hearing is it is a go for the spring," she said during a phone interview with NECN and NBC10 Boston on Thursday, adding that she and other people there are "absolutely thrilled to have the service back."
"We need this boat to be up and running to lift all the businesses and the economy in general," she explained.
According to Anderson, it's very possible that groups and businesses in Bar Harbor and Yarmouth begin working together to offer international travel packages for tourists interested in activities in both Maine and Nova Scotia.
"I actually had some of these conversations back in 2019," he said.
As for when those packages would being to be available, Anderson replied that he would expect that to happen "if not over the holidays, maybe shortly thereafter."
Bay Ferries Limited expects its 2022 season to end sometime around mid-October of next year.