The MS Chi-Cheemaun opens for the season

On Tuesday, vehicles lined up to be on the first trip of the season aboard the MS Chi-Cheemaun, which sails the water from Tobermory to South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island.

"Normally, I'm up May 24 to open the cottage, but now I have to do it now because I think I cancelled it three times, so finally we are going," said cottager, Alfred Vanderheydt.

The 111-meter ship has capacity for more than 600 people, but that number has been limited to 200 to ensure social distancing requirements are met.

Passengers are required to wear masks at all times while onboard. As of Tuesday, the ferry will be running three times daily all summer long.

Kaleena Sanford with the Owen Sound Transporation Company says the ferry will run from Tobermory at 9 a.m., 1 p.m., and 5 p.m. It then runs from South Baymouth to Tobermory at 11 a.m., 3 p.m., and 7 p.m.

Pre-paid reservations are mandatory and can be made online or by phone up to four hours before a scheduled departure depending on availability. Travellers should arrive at least one hour beforehand, and camping is not permitted at the ferry terminals.

The ferry can accommodate everything from walk-on passengers to motorcycles and even tractor-trailers transporting essential goods. The ferry is also essential for tourism in the region.

"With Covid, you can't take flights anywhere, and all of our friends have been telling us to come here, and this is the perfect timing, said newly-wed Jacob Prodan." "We are going to take a week off, and we are going to enjoy everything we can and do as much hiking and sightseeing as we can."

With the ferry up and running and provincial restrictions starting to lift, businesses around the harbour anticipate a busy weekend ahead.