Nova Scotia now easier to reach, affordable too

The Cat, a high-speed catamaran run by Bay Ferries, will begin nonstop service between Portland, Maine, and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, on May 26. Previously, The Cat departed solely out of Bar Harbor, Maine, but will now divide its departure days between the two cities through October 16: Monday through Thursday from Bar Harbor, and Friday through Sunday from Portland.

Passengers departing from Portland can start exploring the province within five-and-a-half hours. If that seems like a long ride, there's plenty of onboard entertainment such as movies, a casino, a duty free shop, and a cafeteria.

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The biggest benefit is accessibility. Before, visitors would have to make the trek to Bar Harbor, which takes about five hours by car from Boston, the biggest gateway city. Now, drive time will be cut down to about two hours.

One-way passenger fares cost $79 for adults, less for seniors and children. Kids under six are free. For round-trip weekend travelers, The Cat is offering special adult walk-on rates of $129 off-peak, $139 peak. Car passage starts at $129 one-way, plus a $25 fuel surcharge—bookings made by May 24 will save $15.

Bay Ferries also offers many value-added packages. Some include ferry fare and hotel stays. For those traveling from downtown Boston or Logan airport, The Cat has partnered with Amtrak and a local bus company to provide connecting service to the Portland ferry terminal. You can either package the transfer with ferry fare or book separately. The Cat conveniently lists appropriate schedules on its website so you won't miss the boat.

To book ferry service, or find more information on special packages, visit The Cat's website.

For more information on Nova Scotia, visit SmarterTravel.com's Nova Scotia Travel Guide, or read my account of riding The Cat and touring the province in A weekend in Nova Scotia for a light price.

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