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Is anyone familiar with the Portland Mail Boat?


Nashna
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Just did the mail boat run this afternoon.  It was fun.  You can bring your own drinks and food, though there isn’t really a picnic area so I wouldn’t recommend having a meal onboard.  They don’t care if you bring alcohol on board either.  It took about 2 1/2 hours.  Our captain did great narration of what we were passing throughout the cruise.  There wasn’t any time to get off at any of the islands.  There was a bathroom on board.  We’ve also done the Peaks Island Ferry (short ferry ride that runs often) a number of times and the ferry to Great Diamond Cove - which is a bit shorter but still shows you several islands and is a nice tour of Casco Bay.  

 

As to an opinion on if you should do Kennebunkport or the mail boat run, I’d skip Kennebunkport.  More so because it will be a major time suck and the town will probably be so crowded as to not be worth the time wasted getting there.  It’s a cute town with gorgeous homes along the shore. Get an Uber to the Portland Head Light and enjoy the view of gorgeous homes along Shore road as you go instead.

 

You see Bug Light, Spring Point Light and way in the distance Portland Head Light as you pull out for the mail run.  

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5 hours ago, SuzCruise said:

Get an Uber to the Portland Head Light and enjoy the view of gorgeous homes along Shore road as you go instead.

Having spent a fair number of weekends in Portland in the last couple of years, the Uber and Lyft situation is not great - sometimes there are none available, or if there are, they have very long waits. We've had good luck calling 207 Taxi, the local cab company.

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8 minutes ago, Rubyfisch said:

Having spent a fair number of weekends in Portland in the last couple of years, the Uber and Lyft situation is not great - sometimes there are none available, or if there are, they have very long waits. We've had good luck calling 207 Taxi, the local cab company.

We haven’t had any issues finding either a Lyft or Uber when we need.  Even late at night on a weeknight.  We’ve been using both services quite a bit over the last couple of months (we are living here for the summer) without issue and we have friends here who don’t even have a car and rely on rideshares.  

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1 minute ago, SuzCruise said:

We haven’t had any issues finding either a Lyft or Uber when we need.  Even late at night on a weeknight.  We’ve been using both services quite a bit over the last couple of months (we are living here for the summer) without issue and we have friends here who don’t even have a car and rely on rideshares.  

I couldn't get an Uber from the train station on Saturday afternoon. I also have given up trying to get Ubers to the train station to catch 8:30 am buses back to Boston.

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9 hours ago, Rubyfisch said:

I couldn't get an Uber from the train station on Saturday afternoon. I also have given up trying to get Ubers to the train station to catch 8:30 am buses back to Boston.

Very interesting.  I can understand why you couldn’t get a ride on Saturday afternoon.  The train station is at Thompson Point, which is a zoo on weekends and most evenings.  There is tons of discussion about how to get there for concerts and events at the brewery or children’s museum because parking and traffic is such a nightmare.  The city actually started an express bus just to handle the problem.  Maybe you could use it in reverse to get to the city center when you come in to visit, though you might have to walk over to the concert venue to catch it which could be a pain with luggage.  I can see why no rideshare driver would accept a trip anywhere near there on a Saturday.  We won’t go anywhere near there either.  But the morning runs are curious.

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7 minutes ago, SuzCruise said:

Very interesting.  I can understand why you couldn’t get a ride on Saturday afternoon.  The train station is at Thompson Point, which is a zoo on weekends and most evenings.  There is tons of discussion about how to get there for concerts and events at the brewery or children’s museum because parking and traffic is such a nightmare.  The city actually started an express bus just to handle the problem.  Maybe you could use it in reverse to get to the city center when you come in to visit, though you might have to walk over to the concert venue to catch it which could be a pain with luggage.  I can see why no rideshare driver would accept a trip anywhere near there on a Saturday.  We won’t go anywhere near there either.  But the morning runs are curious.

Yeah - if you walk past the hotels downtown in the morning, you can see people who are clearly anxiously waiting for Ubers to take them to presumably the airport or the bus/train station. And they wait for a long time. 

 

Although, wait times in Boston are pretty long now, too. With more declined rides than I remember.

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For the mail boat tours, is it best to book in advance or wait until day of to see what the weather is like? Not sure how full these get. I'm definitely interested in checking it out but imagine it's a much better experience if the weather cooperates.

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11 minutes ago, Tsi2quick said:

For the mail boat tours, is it best to book in advance or wait until day of to see what the weather is like? Not sure how full these get. I'm definitely interested in checking it out but imagine it's a much better experience if the weather cooperates.

 

If you go to the first post on this thread and read the faq's, you will see that they do not take advance bookings.  I think they recommended being there about 30 mins before departure, but you can check that timing for yourself.  I have taken printouts/ notes of or our own use, but not to hand at present.

 

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On 8/21/2023 at 4:48 PM, Tsi2quick said:

For the mail boat tours, is it best to book in advance or wait until day of to see what the weather is like? Not sure how full these get. I'm definitely interested in checking it out but imagine it's a much better experience if the weather cooperates.

Just show up the day of.  If you happen to be walking past the ferry terminal earlier, you can buy a ticket.  Or you can just show up a half hour or so before the departure time.  

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On 8/16/2023 at 6:30 PM, SuzCruise said:

Just did the mail boat run this afternoon.  It was fun.  You can bring your own drinks and food, though there isn’t really a picnic area so I wouldn’t recommend having a meal onboard.  They don’t care if you bring alcohol on board either.  It took about 2 1/2 hours.  Our captain did great narration of what we were passing throughout the cruise.  There wasn’t any time to get off at any of the islands.  There was a bathroom on board.  We’ve also done the Peaks Island Ferry (short ferry ride that runs often) a number of times and the ferry to Great Diamond Cove - which is a bit shorter but still shows you several islands and is a nice tour of Casco Bay.  

 

As to an opinion on if you should do Kennebunkport or the mail boat run, I’d skip Kennebunkport.  More so because it will be a major time suck and the town will probably be so crowded as to not be worth the time wasted getting there.  It’s a cute town with gorgeous homes along the shore. Get an Uber to the Portland Head Light and enjoy the view of gorgeous homes along Shore road as you go instead.

 

You see Bug Light, Spring Point Light and way in the distance Portland Head Light as you pull out for the mail run.  

what is better in your opinion mail boat run or the ferries you mentioned?  Looking for best views from the boat.  Thank you 

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Any suggestions re where we might pick up a nice snack to take onto the boat?  I imagine Holy Donuts will have a long wait line on a Sunday morning.  We don't want seafood.  (I know, what are we thinking??)  What else, and where, might be good?

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On 8/29/2023 at 10:52 AM, cruisinginapril2012 said:

what is better in your opinion mail boat run or the ferries you mentioned?  Looking for best views from the boat.  Thank you 

The difference is more about the time you will spend on the ferry. The mail run goes to a few more spots than the Diamond Cove ferry.  The views are similar.  

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33 minutes ago, shipgeeks said:

Any suggestions re where we might pick up a nice snack to take onto the boat?  I imagine Holy Donuts will have a long wait line on a Sunday morning.  We don't want seafood.  (I know, what are we thinking??)  What else, and where, might be good?

It’s not much of a picnic setting imho.  Seating options are benches right next to a stranger.  Not where I would want to picnic.  There is a small table inside, but again, imho, I wouldn’t eat there.  I’ll call it dingy, to be kind.  

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2 hours ago, shipgeeks said:

Thank you; that's helpful to know.  Just looking for an alternative to a donut, to eat by hand while sitting on deck, if we can't get a Holy.

In that case, you might try Standard Baking.  It is right across from the ferry terminal.  It will have a line.  Standard is actually more popular than Holy Donut (their bread is on the menu at lots of local restaurants) but not as popular with cruisers.  But the line is normally well managed and they have a lot of great options.

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On 7/23/2023 at 6:31 PM, ellenw said:

 

I will let you know how we make out. Will try to post while we are still cruising, but no guarantees! You know how time gets away from you when cruising.

You won't get a report back from me on the Mail Boat Run. Unfortunately, the 5 day Bermuda cruise on the Joy before our Sept 4 departure had to spend an extra night in Bermuda waiting for the weather to clear. So, they aren't arriving back in NY until Tuesday, Sept 5. We will board on the 5th, but they eliminated both the Boston and Portland stops. Bummer. But we still get to cruise!

 

Glad someone else was able to post their experience.

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On 9/1/2023 at 4:47 PM, shipgeeks said:

Any suggestions re where we might pick up a nice snack to take onto the boat?  I imagine Holy Donuts will have a long wait line on a Sunday morning.  We don't want seafood.  (I know, what are we thinking??)  What else, and where, might be good?

I love the blueberry muffins from the Maker's Gallery - it's just down the street from the dock and is much less crowded than Holy Donut or Standard Bakery. The lines at Standard have always been too much for me.

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On 8/29/2023 at 10:52 AM, cruisinginapril2012 said:

what is better in your opinion mail boat run or the ferries you mentioned?  Looking for best views from the boat.  Thank you 

The mailboat run will take you all the way out to Cliff Island, the farthest out inhabited island, so looking back, you will have views of all the islands and the Portland skyline.  Look the other way, and the first land you'll see is Ireland.

 

A story is that a German U-boat skipper spent so much time looking at Cliff Island through his periscope, that he moved there after the war.

 

The mailboat run can run longer than the 2.5 hours, depending on the amount of cargo being taken to the islands.  More cargo, more time at each island.

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