Bay Ferries begins taking Yarmouth to Maine ferry bookings

The schedule is up, prices posted and bookings ready to be taken for the revived Yarmouth to Portland, ME ferry service.

Bay Ferries began taking reservation bookings on Monday for daily sailings between June 15 and September 30.

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    According to a statement from the company’s vice president of marketing and customer experience, Jeff Gaudet, the prices are “about equal” to those when the ferry was last offered in 2009.

    “Our research and customer feedback over the years showed us that customers prefer pricing as simple and straight-forward as possible,” he said.

    Based on a trip on Sunday, July 1, the cost of a one-way adult ticket without a car would be $107 USD or $194 USD roundtrip.

    A couple of adults with a vehicle up to 6’6″ in height would pay $413 USD on a one-way trip and $786 USD roundtrip.

    If that family added two youth aged five to 13, the price would increase to $543 USD for a one-way trip and $1,022 USD roundtrip.

    Bay Ferries is offering promotions, including $100 off vehicle fares for Nova Scotians on select days of the week, but reaction from potential travellers is still mixed.

    “That actually seems kind of high,” said Heather Barkhouse.

    “I would rather take that money and just stay around here. I mean, for that amount of money, I could go on a car trip to Ottawa for gas to visit my brother so no.”

    “I’m actually going to be driving to Maine in the next couple days but something like that I’d definitely try it out. I’ve never really been on a ferry before. I think it’d be a good experience,” said Sondra Brunt.

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    The success of the ferry is something Nova Scotians are watching closely. Bay Ferries will receive more than $32 million over the next two years from the province to operate the service. This comes after government cut ties with the previous operator, Nova Star Cruises.

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    Nova Star not only failed to meet passenger targets, but also cost the province $41.5 million in subsidies.

    It’s a mistake NSCC marketing instructor, Ed McHugh, hopes isn’t repeated.

    “So you’ve got your product now, which is basically the transportation across the bay. You’ve got your promotion, which has been lacking so far. You’ve got price, which now feels a little high,” he said.

    “Then you’ve got distribution of the product, which is interesting because not sure how strong a market it will be to take a ferry out of Yarmouth.”

    For the town of Yarmouth, the big question is whether Americans will be taking the ferry and choosing to stay.

    The Canadian dollar remains low, so the town’s mayor believes the cost will actually entice visitors.

    “I think the prices are great,” said Pam Mood.

    “I think a lot of our American friends are going to come over and economically, they’re going to come over, stay in our hotels, motels and make lots of purchases over here. So it’s all good.”

    She also says the sailing schedule, which will arrive in Yarmouth in the evenings, will encourage visitors to stay overnight.

    “The schedule is tremendously helpful. It’s a win win for Nova Scotia,” she said.

    People can get more information and book crossings here.