The Chi-Cheemaun has returned the Owen Sound Harbour to dock for the winter.
Owen Sound Transportation Company manager of customer and media relations Kaleena Johnson says the ferry arrived in Owen Sound this past weekend following a journey to Wisconsin to have one of its propeller blades repaired.
Johnson says more than 79,000 vehicles and 199,000 passengers rode the Chi-Cheemaun this past summer, down slightly from 2017.
She says a number of variables likely contributed to the slight decline in ridership.
"One being the forest fires that were happening along Highway 69, which may have led to tourists being reluctant to head north this season," Johnson explains. "Also, with last year being a banner year for tourism with Canada 150, there was likely a decrease just from less people traveling."
Johnson says this is the first year there has been a drop in ridership since 2013 -- after four consecutive seasons of increases.
Over the winter, Johnson says interior renovations will continue on the Chi-Cheemaun with the cafeteria deck hallways being re-done with new panelling and flooring.
The Chi-Cheemaun's 2019 season will begin on May 3, with the re-positioning cruise from Owen Sound to Tobermory set for May 2.