On April 1, ferry service to Pelee Island resumed on schedule replacing the winter air service that residents rely on from December to March. COVID-19 has changed the way people travel afar, and right here in Windsor/ Essex/ Pelee Island too. The Pelee Islander began modified service with restricted access for residents and essential services only, requiring drive-on passengers to stay in their vehicles and accommodating only a limited number of walk-on passengers.
On June 26, 2020, the Pelee Islander 2 entered into service absent food and beverage options, under restricted capacity and mask requirements. The modified summer schedule provides three sailings Thursday – Monday and two sailings mid-week. The Owen Sound Transportation Company website indicates a fall schedule will be available soon.
Susan Schrempf, President and CEO of Owen Sound Transportation Company, says the crew of The Pelee Islander 2 is managing very well with new COVID-19 protocols. “Their normal operating mode is to be focused on safety in all aspects of the service from the engine room up through the ship to the wheelhouse. COVID is just another aspect of safety that must be managed in the course of daily operations.”
Schrempf reports that the crew is used to being able to interact a little more with passengers than they can at the moment and that increased time is being spent on surface cleaning and managing passenger behaviours.
The original Pelee Islander would normally be making a daily trek to Sandusky, Ohio with additional runs on the weekends, but with the border closed the 60-year-old ferry does not have a regular schedule at this time. The Pelee to Sandusky run is one of only four international passenger ferry crossings in Ontario.
Schrempf says there is no crystal ball big enough to know when the border may re-open and what that may look like. “There are not only several levels of the government in Canada involved in those decisions, there are two separate countries and each will have their own expectation for their side of the border. Until we have those answers, we can’t speculate on what that may mean to the ferry service.”
Ferry travel from Leamington to Pelee Island is no longer restricted to Pelee Island residents and essential services only. The mainland terminal will move to Kingsville on August 1, 2020.
If you plan on taking the ferry to Pelee Island from Leamington or Kingsville, learn more about current COVID-19 measures at ontarioferries.com.
Follow @peleeferry on Twitter for the most up-to-date information on revisions to sailings, schedules and changing safety measures as they are announced.
Photo of boat by Cathy Miller
Photo of couple by Steph McQueen
Cathy + Kevin Miller
The Wandering Dog Inn
1060 East West Rd. Pelee Island