BAR HARBOR — The international ferry between Bar Harbor and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia will not run this season at all, operator Bay Ferries announced today, citing “uncertainty as to the eventual removal” of border and public health travel restrictions intended to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
“This is a difficult, but also now an obvious, decision,” said Mark MacDonald, chairman and CEO of Bay Ferries. “International non-essential travel worldwide has essentially come to a standstill. It is not clear when U.S. operations would be permitted to occur, what opportunity would exist for proper marketing of the service, and what short term customer demand would be.”
The company hoped to begin service last summer, but delays in permitting and construction at the Bar Harbor terminal facility led to that season being cancelled. This winter, the company hoped to begin sailing June 26 of this year, but that was before travel restrictions due to COVID-19 came into force. In May, the company said it hoped to begin service July 15.
“In the circumstances, we are focused on reduction of cost,” he said. Bay Ferries, a private company, has a contract with the Province of Nova Scotia to provide ferry service to Maine. The decision to cancel the season was made “after close consultation” with the province, according to a press release.
The Cat ferry itself will remain at its winter berth in South Carolina.
Bay Ferries leases a portion of the Bar Harbor terminal property from the town, under a five-year agreement that guarantees minimum rent and provides for additional payments tied to ticket revenue. Revenue from overnight parking for ferry passengers also goes to the town, under the agreement.