The proposed Chesapeake Bay baseline passenger ferry routes have been revealed in the Chesapeake Bay Passenger Ferry Feasibility Study.

chesapeake bay passenger ferry
The Candela P-12 has been proposed as a potential vessel for the Chesapeake Bay passenger ferry system. Courtesy of Candela/YouTube


But let's back up a bit. In January of 2023, a five-county tourism consortium spearheaded by Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County (VAAAC) began accepting proposals to determine the feasibility of initiating sustainable passenger ferry service to connect key Maryland destinations along the Chesapeake Bay.

The RFP had been in the works since the Consortium, comprised of VAAAC as well as Calvert, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, and St. Mary’s Counties, accepted a $125,000 Local Technical Assistance matching grant from the United States Economic Development Administration (EDA) on October 18, 2022. Consortium grantee, VAAAC Executive Director Kristen Pironis, applied for and accepted the grant on behalf of the Consortium. The five members of the Consortium as well as Anne Arundel County and the Maryland Economic Development Corporation will provide the required $125,000 in matching funds via a seven-way split.

Pironis says issuing the RFP is the next step in a quest to help ensure that area residents and visitors to Maryland have access to North America’s largest estuary. As Pironis sees it, “It’s a transformational moment. Members of the Consortium are excited to be working together on a regional project with far reaching ramifications. It’s not just about connecting destinations. It’s about being connected to the Chesapeake Bay. If the study determines passenger ferry service along Maryland’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay is feasible, we’ll be one step closer to providing equal and equitable access to the Bay, and that would be a game changer.”

chesapeake bay passenger ferry
Courtesy of Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County


The Chesapeake Bay is steeped in maritime history, including a time when water ferry transportation drove the development and success of our coastal communities. In recent years, many of these communities on both the Western and Eastern shores have lost the water transportation connectivity, and, in many cases, lost quality access to the Bay other than by private boat or limited charters. For many communities, the Bay has the potential to serve as a key economic driver for water activities and as a transportation gateway for both residents and visitors to bayside destinations throughout the region.

The purpose of the Chesapeake Bay Passenger Ferry Feasibility Study is to evaluate the potential for a new passenger ferry service that could stimulate economic growth within each host community, provide improved access to the Bay, provide new water transportation connectivity options, and promote enhanced tourism opportunities throughout the region.

Proposed Routes

Twenty-one host communities and possible routes linking the communities have been identified and represent the full system. Thirteen of these communities have been further selected to represent the proposed baseline Passenger Ferry System – that is, the sites anticipated to have the greatest possibility of demonstrating interest in and success of a passenger ferry service on the Chesapeake Bay within one to three years – while also ensuring geographic diversity. The map provides an illustration of the baseline communities (green dots) and full system communities (yellow dots). Each line color represents the six distinct routes that make up the baseline system.

chesapeake bay passenger ferry
The proposed Chesapeake Bay passenger ferry system routes. Courtesy of Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County

Potential routes included in the baseline Passenger Ferry System include:

Baltimore > Rock Hall > Kent Narrows > St. Michaels > Matapeake > Annapolis

Baltimore > Annapolis

Annapolis > Chesapeake Beach > Solomons Island > Crisfield

Chesapeake Beach > Oxford > Easton >Cambridge

Solomons Island > St. Mary's City > Crisfield > Solomons Island

Solomons Island > Cambridge

This study, as noted above, is focused on the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay. This limits the proposed station locations and routes to this geography. With that said, it should be acknowledged that as the system develops and expands, there will be numerous opportunities to identify routes that connect our Maryland communities with locations in Virginia (via the Chesapeake and Potomac), Washington, DC (via the Potomac), and Delaware (via the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal).

Proposed Vessel

In a presentation to the St. Mary’s County Board of County Commissioners meeting on February 13, 2024, an update was given to the commissioners that included possible routes and a potential vessel: the Candela P-12, an electric hydrofoiling passenger ferry. But keep in mind, this is just a proposal at this point. 

The Candela C-8 made it's Chesapeake debut at the Annapolis Powerboat Show last fall and PropTalk was lucky enough to get a ride! If you missed our on-the-water video, check it out below:

The Study

The Chesapeake Bay Passenger Ferry Feasibility Study is being conducted by Cambridge Systematics and supported by a consortium of counties including Anne Arundel, Calvert, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, and St. Mary’s. The study is funded by a matching grant awarded to Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County by the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration’s American Rescue Plan: Travel, Tourism & Outdoor Recreation Program.