Portland's Premier Ferry Service

Maquoit II, one of the ferries of Casco Bay Lines

Maquoit II, one of the ferries of Casco Bay Lines

One of the larger objectives of the Tall Ships Portland Event is to promote the strong maritime culture of Portland Harbor, including the ships that use the harbor that aren’t tall ships. Casco Bay lines, the historic and instantly recognizable ferry service that runs in Portland Harbor, is a significant part of this maritime culture, and is a draw to anyone in the Portland area who wants to see Portland and its islands.

A Local Institution

The Casco Bay Lines ferry service is a local institution, dating back to the nineteenth century. What is today known as Casco Bay Lines began in the 1870s as “The Casco Bay Steamboat Company,” designed to use burgeoning steamship technology to provide transportation from Portland to the surrounding islands. Unlike today, Casco Bay Lines was not the only ferry services in town – facing fierce competition from The Harpswell Ferry Service. Eventually these two service combined, adopting the joint name “The Casco Bay and Harpswell Steamboat Company” in 1909. This union was fruitful for a decade, until the stress from the First World War forced the joint company to shut down. From the ashes of this larger company, the operation today known as Casco Bay Lines was born. This operation was leaner, with only four ferries. This smaller service worked privately until, in the economic downturn of the early eighties, the company went bankrupt. The Maine State Legislature, recognizing the importance of the ferry service to the Casco Bay islands, stepped in, and the modern day Casco Bay Island Transit District was formed as a municipal service of Portland. The company runs today as a non-profit. 

Island Adventures

For anyone interested in exploring the islands of Casco Bay, the ferries of Casco Bay Lines are the way to do it. Casco Bay Lines provides regular, convenient trips to popular destinations like Peaks Island or Great Diamond Island. These trips also provide travelers with the chance to enjoy Portland Harbor from a vessel, which is an experience that can’t be overstated. Peaks Island, once known as the “Coney Island of Maine”, is a hotspot for sight seers,with scenic beaches, restaurants and tours. Great Diamond Island is wonderful destination for families, as it has plenty of beaches and can be traversed easily, without a car or bicycle. For anyone who wants to explore these destinations and others, Casco Bay Lines offers regular trips to all of the major islands in Casco Bay, as well as private cruises for those who want a personalized experience. 


Are you interested in Portland Harbor’s maritime heritage? Do you enjoy the sight of tall ships? Be sure to come to Tall Ships Portland. Tall Ships are visiting Portland harbor in July from the 18th to the 20th. Tickets are on sale now!