Celebrating CBL Riders: The Portland Peninsula Local

Here at Casco Bay Lines, we recognize the importance of celebrating those that keep our engines running… our incredible riders! That’s why we’re launching this series, “Celebrating CBL Riders”, featuring the diversity of our customers and their experiences. In their own voice, our guest bloggers are sharing their personal stories and perspectives as they utilize Portland’s iconic public ferry system. Join us as we hear directly from locals, tourists, and everyone in between – the person that you may be seated next to on the ferry – the collection of unique riders that make CBL so special! 


The Portland (Peninsula) Local at Sunrise  

Hi! I’m Kristen – a Portland local and Casco Bay Lines enthusiast. I first heard about CBL’s Sunrise Run after a coworker shared his experience and the stunning photos he captured. I dreamt about the day I would finally muster up the motivation to wake up before sunrise to check it out myself. As a Portland resident, I’ve used CBL mostly to travel to and from the islands during the summer (which I LOVE) but decided this was the perfect opportunity to check off a bucket list item AND explore Casco Bay in colder weather. I’m excited to kick-off this series sharing my experience as an “on-peninsula” local – there are many of us who live in Portland and choose to use Casco Bay Lines when we’re looking for a spontaneous adventure! Thank you and catch you on the next ferry!  


I wake up to my alarm going off at 4am and wonder if I was of a sound mind when setting it for this early the night before. Normally I would never be up before the sun, but today is a special occasion worth the extra suffering… I have my sights set on Casco Bay Line’s Sunrise Run.  

My partner and two dogs have also begrudgingly signed up for this morning adventure, but I assure the three of them the morning views will all be worth it. Thankfully, I had my coffee maker set to a timer to brew us up a fresh pot as soon as we woke up. This helps! CBL encourages riders to bring beverages and snacks, and a hot cup of coffee in a thermos is just what the doctor ordered to take our sunrise cruise to the next level. We throw on some layers, grab a couple blankets, our coffee, and a Tupperware of leftover quiche from a couple days ago… and we’re off! 

We arrive at the Casco Bay Lines terminal at 4:45 am leaving just enough time to purchase tickets in the terminal for the two humans (at $17.00 apiece) and our two fur babies (at $4.10 apiece). Another advantage to adventuring out so early is the abundance of free downtown street parking – paid parking begins at 9am! The ferry leaves promptly at 5:00 am and the cruise lasts around two and a half hours, so we found a spot and were good to go!  

With the logistics behind us, we settle in to enjoy the magic of an early morning on the Portland waterfront. The lobstermen were clearly up before we were and have already begun their day’s work. The working waterfront is alive and well, and even though I live here, I realize this is the first time I’ve been able to witness it firsthand. It makes me feel proud that our city carries on this tradition and, in this moment, I’m feeling like a true Portlander.  

The staff call out into the quiet morning air – it’s time to board. We find ourselves a cozy spot on the top deck of the Wabanaki, drape ourselves in our blankets and get ready for the ride. There’s a stillness in the air that encourages the both of us to savor the silence and to give our full attention to the sights that are happening around us. The morning fog is thick at first and adds a chill to the air but it also encourages a cozier moment between the two of us. Is it cheesy to say it’s all very romantic? I must imagine that even if you were to take this trip with a friend or ride solo, this feeling would still be the same. There’s a connection to nature I haven’t felt in a while. The seagulls, the still water, the SEALS (yes… we were lucky enough to see two!) are all very humbling and, in this moment, I feel extremely grateful.  

Lastly, THE SUNRISE. We crossed our fingers that mother nature would put on a show and we were not disappointed. Right around 5:30*, the skies over Casco Bay were painted with vibrant hues of oranges and pinks. Our moods are as bright as the sky above, and we spend the remainder of our trip swapping stories, snapping photos, and pointing out the landmarks we see along the way. This cruise also provides idyllic views  of the Casco Bay islands we cruise by. We point at the homes dotted along the shorelines and fantasize about what it’d be like to wake up there in the morning.

We pull back into the CBL terminal around 7:15 with empty coffee cups, full bellies, restless pups, and a whole new appreciation for the great city we get to call home. If you’re looking to get back in touch with the beauty of Portland, I would 10/10 recommend Casco Bay Line’s Sunrise Run. It’s an experience that isn’t adequately captured in words.  

Schedule and ticket information for the Sunrise Run can be found here.

*Please note that the times sunrise will vary depending on the time of year.