Maine’s beautiful coastline is even more scenic from the water, and one easy way to see is to take a cruise on Casco Bay Lines in Portland.

“We’re a unique way for people to get out on the water,” said Caitlin Gildart, sales director. “We’re one of the longest operating mail boat ferries in the country. The mix of passengers, freight, mail and vehicles doesn’t happen on too many other ferries in the United States so it’s a unique operation and a good way to see Casco Bay.”

The ferry system provides year-round passenger, freight and vehicle service to six islands and service to Bailey Island, home of the world-famous Cook’s Lobster House, in the summer months.

In addition to the commuter ferries, the line’s specialty cruises tend to be popular with motorcoach tours. Seasonal dance cruises allow visitors to cruise the bay while dancing the night away. Specialty cruises include sunrise, sunset and moonlight runs as well as the 5½-hour Bailey Island Day Cruise, taking visitors past lighthouses, forts and 19th-century summer colonies.

For a quick ride, visitors can take a 20-minute commuter ferry ride to Peak’s Island.

“Our mail boat run is kind of what we call our local favorite way to get out and experience our ferries and the bay,” Gildart said. “The mailboat is a true working boat so it’s carrying people, mail and cargo. We are really the lifeline to the islands — we bring anything from a box of groceries to a washing machine to a treadmill.”

Tours are narrated. “For a lot of people, it’s an affordable way to get out on the water, see our operation and the islands and see how the islanders live,” Gildart said.

Groups get the senior rate “with a full bus,” she said.

Motorcoach parking is not available at the site. For parking suggestions, contact the Ocean Gateway Visitor Center or the city of Portland.

For more information on Casco Bay Lines, call 207-774-7871 or go to

Article by Kathie Sutin