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Two Nation Vacation : "Cat" Ferry Flies From Yarmouth to Bar Harbor, Maine

by Travelin' Tony T (Editor @ Large)
  The "Cat" approaches dockside in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia
The "Cat" approaches dockside in
Yarmouth, Nova Scotia
  For over 30 years, the crossing from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia to Bar Harbor, Maine was handled by the government run, “MV Bluenose” and was a nice little ride offering an alternative to driving around from Nova Scotia to Maine. But the times have changed and the old run became unviable. There was talk that the ferry service would cease, leaving Yarmouth’s tourism industry, and the spin off commerce it creates, in a commercial quandry. Then along came Bay Ferries Ltd., who had turned the ferry service from Caribou, Nova Scotia to Wood Islands, PEI into a profitable venture some years ago. Their plan was to acquire the Yarmouth and Digby runs from the government and make them viable private enterprises. A big part of that plan was “The Cat”.

uilt in Australia in 1997, the Cat spent its first five months traversing the longest fery run in the world in the Tasmanian Sea/Bass Straight area, until it was acquired by Bay Ferries. This sleek high seas craft cruises at an impressive 47 knots (more than twice that of the old service), with its 4 huge engines each pumping through the equivalent of an olympic size swimming pool per second of water (photo below). So now the tedious six hour crossing has become a 3 hour tour (yes, a three hour tour). It helps that the ship is an awesome sight to the uninitiated, children swarm to catch a glimpse of this “sea monster” like craft. Top off the trip with clean, new decor, a full service cafeteria, loads of lounging space and a casino (well, slot machines, black jack and a roulette wheel anyway) and this ferry is an adventure. There’s even a wonderful theatre area which shows kids movies on video to keep the little ones occupied during the journey.

Don’t forget that the International crossing gives you the opportunity to buy a few duty free items. If you enjoy the occasional drink, don’t miss the amazing prices on alcohol. Traveling on the shrinking Canadian dollar, even though the prices where in US funds, the total amounted to less than half of the shelf prices on the spirits and liqueurs. Tobacco is also bargain priced. Check with the clerks to find out your allowable limit.

By the time you’ve shopped, dined, slipped a few quarters in the one armed bandit and had a look off the deck Capt. Ken Smith (who knows these waters well, since both Cat Captains piloted the old Bluenose ferry here before taking the trip to Tasmania and bringing the cat to the northern hemisphere) will have you safe and sound in Bar Harbor, Maine.
The spray flies from the Cat's engines
The spray flies from the Cat's Engines

Next : Bar Harbor/Acadia National Park
Previous : Yarmouth, Nova Scotia a great stopover

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