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Bar Harbor-Yarmouth CAT Ferry Canceled for 2020

The CAT ferry was meant to commence sailings between Yarmouth, Nova Scotia and Bar Harbor, after a year of construction delays.
Robert F. Bukaty

BAR HARBOR, Maine — In another blow to the Down East tourism industry, the CAT ferry service between Bar Harbor and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, will not be happening this year, making for a second year of delays for the service that has yet to transport any passengers.

Officials on both sides of the border had been hoping Canada-based Bay Ferries could commence service in time for the fall foliage season, which is traditionally a busy time for visitors in both countries. But at a press briefing Friday, Nova Scotia officials announced that it would not be possible. 

"This is disappointing. The ferry was ready to sail out of Bar Harbor," says Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil. "But now that COVID continues to be a problem in the US, and the Canadian-US border remains closed, we just don't think it's safe for the ferry service this year. But we are very hopeful that the ferry will be back next year, and we will welcome tourists from the US."

On Friday, the State of Maine reported 32 new cases of COVID-19. Nova Scotia has not had a new case of COVID-19 since June 9. For now, McNeil says Nova Scotia will work on reopening to other Canadian provinces.

The town of Bar Harbor acquired the ferry terminal after voters in June 2018 authorized its purchase from the Maine Department of Transportation at a cost of $3.5 million.

Service to Nova Scotia from Bar Harbor, which was meant to begin in 2019 for the first time in a decade, did not happen due to prolonged construction on the Bar Harbor side of the route for screening facilities ordered by Customs and Border Protection.

Bay Ferries of Prince Edward Island was granted a five year lease to operate from the terminal, in an agreement which guarantees Bar Harbor a minimum of $1 million over the course of the agreement.

For now, the CAT will remain at its off-season port in Charleston, South Carolina.