Whether you live in Portland or are just visiting, casting off on a summer maritime adventure on one of Casco Bay Lines many dog-friendly ferries is a great way to soak up the Vacationland vibe.
On a recent summer Sunday, we had family visitors in town and decided to head out on an afternoon Mailboat Run to get them out on Casco Bay and share some Maine Island flavor. On this occasion, we chose not to bring our dog on the harbor cruise adventure; Ted is more of a destination dog and would be hoping to disembark and explore every island port of call. I figured after our morning swim and play session at Mackworth Island, Ted would be ready for an afternoon siesta and we could go check out the Mailboat wag action. If you have a mellow dog who is looking for a salty dog adventure, which is all about ocean views and wagging with new friends, this might be a fun dog-friendly excursion for you.
Casco Bay Lines has recently finished a major renovation of their Portland passenger terminal facilities resulting in a spacious new ticketing and waiting area surrounded by architectural glass with wide opening doors and fantastic views of Casco Bay and the ferry action. In true dog-loving Portland style, the new terminal is very dog-friendly as are all the Casco Bay ferry boat services.
Casco Bay Lines – Mailboat Run: Summer hours: departs Portland at 10am and 2:15 pm | Roundtrip Fares: Adults: $16, Seniors: $14, Kids: $8, Dogs: (must be leashed) $4.10.
The Casco Bay Mailboat is a true working boat carrying passengers, mail and freight to the islands of Casco Bay — Little Diamond, Great Diamond, Long, Cliff and Chebeague. It is rumored to be the longest standing US mailboat service of its kind and is a fun way to experience Casco Bay. The round trip journey can take between 2.5 to 3.5 hours depending on mail volume and passenger flow.
Our recent Sunday boat ride was filled with locals and vacationers heading to the different islands and folks who were just cruising, like us. There are multiple boat levels to hang out on; you can adjust your vessel vantage point to suit your sun needs and how much sea spray action you are looking for.
When you buy the Mailboat Cruise ticket, you typically stay on the boat through the different island stops until you reach Cliff Island. As we pulled into the Cliff Island dock, the Captain let us know that we could hop off and stretch our legs and maybe get an ice cream or snack from the dockside General Store. We had a short time to enjoy the Island views before re-boarding and heading over to Chebeague Island.
As the boat pulls out out from the docks of the different islands, there is typically a team of Maine kids ready to jump into the icy cold bubbling wake of the ferry. A few onboard Baywatch dogs looked tempted to leap to the rescue of the dock jumpers.
As we navigated through the harbor and pulled into the different islands, I perused the boat for furry faces and made new friends.
Clocking up ocean time is always on my summer bucket list. The beauty of this dog-friendly excursion is it gives you a chance to sniff out the different islands and then plan an extended excursion where you can disembark with your wag, bring a picnic and spend some quality island time. If you take the Mailboat Run, maybe you’ll get lucky, make some new dog-loving friends and get the scoop on a seaside island cottage that welcomes guests with tails.