Chi-cheemaun ferry to start season May 7

OWEN SOUND – Owen Sound Transportation Company (OSTC) has announced the MS Chi-Cheemaun will set for its first sail May 7 with a couple of changes with this year’s ferry schedule.

“Our first sailing will take place Friday, May 7 with the ship leaving here (Owen Sound) the day before,” said Susan Schrempf, president and CEO of the OSTC, last week. “There will be no spring cruise this year.”

“We will be sailing basically on time at the regular time in the spring. Our summer schedule will begin roughly three weeks early, June 1,” said Ms. Schrempf. She said the early summer season schedule will allow for three trips per day (between Tobermory and South Baymouth), and continue until Labour Day, when the fall schedule will then kick in.

Ms. Schrempf noted there will be no events or entertainment on the ship and again this season, no food service. However, “we will opening our gift shop this season,” she said, noting that gift items can be purchased online on the website.

Ms. Schrempf pointed out all COVID-19 mitigation measures will remain in place. That includes passenger numbers being capped at 200 (normally the ship can handle 300 passengers). “We are going with 200 people right now—we’ll see how that works out. We need to make sure that everyone can physical distance when they are on board the ship.” There will be screening of passengers by ship crew and the former will need to wear masks at all times.

“Our long-awaited reservation system was launched Wednesday,” Ms. Schrempf told the Recorder. All passengers must make a reservation—no walk-on traffic is being accepted at this time. “It is a much more robust system, and the information customers will receive will be superior to what it has been. With the system customers will be able to make reservations and by setting up their own account they will be able to pick the vehicle and sailing they want, on their own,  and cancel online on their own. They can cancel a reservation, but cancellation (provisions remain the same),” she said. “They will also receive instant messaging if there has been a change made in the schedule.” 

Passengers must complete a COVID-19 screening test before boarding to ensure they are not exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. Passengers must wear a face covering for the duration of the sailing and maintain a distance of at least two metres from other passengers. 

No food or drinks will be served on board, and passengers are not permitted to bring food with them, although a bottle of water is permitted.