I was such an advocate for the Yarmouth – Maine Route, and the ferry service altogether that I became an agent!
Update: Due to Covid-19 the Canada/USA land border was closed at the beginning of the 2021 riding season. It is expected to run as normal next spring.
Choosing the Cat means you get to move a little and rest your arse. The ferry from Bar Harbor is a great option to avoid miles of interstate. If you do choose to take the ferry, please book with me! As an agent, you get any specials that are offered, including Rally pricing. It is such a help to have some income while just talking about bike trips. See requirements below, and when you’re ready to book, grab the following info and give me a ring. 1-902-870-4630. Leaves Bar Harbor at 3pm. You need to book a hotel in Yarmouth for that night as well, as you have to ride far at night before you find anything else (experience!).
What You Need to Make a Reservation
Information required in order to complete a reservation:
Dates of travel
Full names of passengers
If it is your bike. If you are driving a rental bike, I don’t need the plate #. Please note: If you are renting in the US, then traveling to Canada, you will need an insurance note from the rental company – tell them you’re coming here and they’ll know what you need.
If travelling on The CAT, valid passports are required for each passenger. I’ll require both your Passport numbers and expiry dates.
Valid credit card
To and from
If it is a return trip
License plate #
The CAT: Bar Harbor, Maine to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia
Experience the Maritimes the way they’re meant to be seen—by sea. The fastest way to get from Maine to Nova Scotia, the high-speed CAT ferry will take you on a two-nation vacation between Bar Harbor and Yarmouth in just 3.5 hours. Featuring plenty of onboard amenities and a knowledgeable staff and crew, your journey will be more than just fast, it will be a chance to discover the tastes, sights, and sounds of the Atlantic en route. And, at less than half the driving time, you’ll have even more of an opportunity to explore the Nova Scotia’s coastal beauty beyond the horizon.
You will need to book a hotel
I am in talks with a hotel in Yarmouth to get a deal on staying there when you arrive. It is necessary to book a hotel when you book the ferry as the next town for a place to stay is far into the night as you ride. I’m working on a package that will let me book you in at the same time, so you don’t have to worry about anything. Also, booking with me will save you a little money. I will update soon.
The Experience - It is a fast boat, so it is nice to get off the bike and have a nice glass of wine and eat while still moving. The prices for food weren’t bad at all.
Don’t have to Quit - An outside deck is Smoker Friendly.
Arrival Time - It arrives at the end of the day. Nothing worse than getting off the boat with 3 hours till supper. You get off, go through customs, and are at your Yarmouth hotel early in the evening.
Pricing Structure: Not much of a discount for a return trip. I wish they’d increase the incentive!
It doesn’t land in Cape Breton: Yarmouth is still a full day or more, riding to the Cabot Trail. If you have time – try to budget 2 days to the Cabot Trail from Yarmouth. Hit our Capital City of Halifax and see Peggy’s Cove, or head North East on the top side of NS to enjoy, what I feel is better riding, Vinyards and nice restaurants, and view the world’s greatest tides. Day 2 you can ride by my house and take what I ride on my long way to work and get to the Trail on some nicer routes that are easy to Navigate. (I made a map for all of you, it is available for free at the Visitor Centres) .
Skipping the ferry: has you skipping the nice southern half of Nova Scotia. If time is precious, another option is to have me book you the St. John, New Brunswick - Digby, Nova Scotia Ferry to pick up a little more of NS prior landing in Cape Breton. It also has you riding right alongside the same bay you cross, so you can witness the world’s largest tides. I need the same information for booking this ferry as the Cat, except I don’t need Passport info as you are staying in the same country.
What goes on at the dock in Bar Harbor: You pickup your tickets and report to the dock an hour or so before you sail. It’s pretty simple to get on the boat. They have a couple workers asking very, very light customs questions as you are about 500′ from the loading ramp. You do need to have fast, easy access to your ticket and passport. There is a lot of starting and stopping as you crawl in the line. Loud bikes should show respect and engine off 50′ from where agents are doing interviews.
Bikes go to the front of the ship. The crew just throws the straps on the floor around you. There are NO take off straps (all material short straps that ensure the metal hooks don’t touch your bike). If you are quick, please help a fellow biker. If you have no idea what to do, the crew will do it for you – they are very helpful.
Kiss your bike – you are not allowed to see her again until arriving.
Customs: Customs questions are more formal on the destination side. They are not rushed by a leaving ferry and ask more questions. Again, loud bikes please shut off.
Duty Free: There is no duty free shop on the Cat Ferry. I’m not sure if there is a duty free shop in Bar Harbour. Please let me know and I will update.
Yarmouth Visitor Information Centre (VIC) on your right as you leave the ship – Stop here the next day before you leave Yarmouth to get my map and review with a host or hostess to help choose your route. Tell them that you’re related to the guy on the back of the map as I adopted anyone that has read this far. Always, always remember that that best advice comes from a VIC. They are trained professionals that want to tell you the information that will give you a better trip. They even know about the things the Locals take for granted… like the tides and sunsets over water. This happens always… the locals might not mention where to enjoy them.
The Business Side: The ferry service is run privately by Bay Ferries. They receive subsidies from the Nova Scotia Government each year to maintain this link to New England. Over the past 7 years, with changing governments and policies, Bay Ferries (a very well established company) lost the service. A new company came in, ran an unsustainable huge ferry, went out of business, and Bay Ferries had to come in and re-establish, still hurting from the poor execution of the (now defunct) Nova Star. After operating the Cat out of the same Portland Port, Bay Ferries changed ports to Bar Harbor, with the intention to first set sail for summer, 2019. The port change was for sustainability reasons, as Bay Ferries was welcome in Bar Harbor, whereas Portland was interested in the cruise ship clientele.