The Cat is the new catamaran operated by Bay Ferries from Bar Harbor Maine to Yarmouth Nova Scotia.
The first thing to say about The Cat is that it is fast.. It took us
about 3 hours to travel the distance. For that reason alone, it is a worthwhile
operation. I found it easiest to go over mid-week, and was able to get
a reservation the previous day. The Cat was not full on this trip (only
about 120 vehicles and about 250-300 passengers.
The ride was rough however. Everyone looked like they were drunk as they attempted to walk around the upper deck. The boat would lurch, and people would go from hand-rail to hand-rail. Several people were not able to withstand the roughness. (You can read between the lines here... ;-) I found the best location to ride the voyage was in the upper deck in the center area. People sitting along the windows in the sides got the worst of it, since the outsides move the most.
Outside, You can go to the upper level and see from the sides. The pilot house takes up the entire front part of the boat, and is a mass of comuterized equipment. A display of the chart, along with an animated position of the boat is on one of the large consoles in front of the captain. From time to time, this display is also available on monitors placed throughout the ship.
On this trip, we hit a speed of 40 knots (about 48 MPH).. Several people that I spoke with on both sides (US and Nova Scotia) indicated that they were concerned with the ship harming whales and dolphins. It is my understanding that this has not happened to date. Personally, I would think that these animals are smart enough to not stay in front of the ship moving at that speed. Indeed, I saw at least one whale off to the side by a wide distance.
Out the back, one can vew the enourmous water jets that propell the ship forward.
At one point, the rate of water was the equivalent of that contained in an olympic sized swimming pool every second! These last photos shows a bit of the water stream as it leaves one of the jet ports. There are two such ports out the back. Plan on getting a bit wet if you venture out the back. It is a good idea to bring a sweatshirt onboard with you if you plan on doing out on deck. You will not be able to get to your vehicle during the voyage.