By Bethany Bray
---- — SALEM — City councilors have approved a five-year contract with Boston Harbor Cruises to operate the city’s commuter ferry.
Boston Harbor Cruises ran the high-speed catamaran between Salem and Boston for the 2012 season. The city had put the service out to bid this winter in hopes of securing a long-term contract. Boston Harbor Cruises was the only bidder.
The deal offers a one-year contract followed by four, one-year options to renew.
Councilor Robert McCarthy said the city had a positive experience with the company last year.
“Their commitment to Salem, this route and this ferry is commendable,” McCarthy said. “... We wish them all the best.”
The council voted 9-0 to approve the contract last week, with Councilors Paul Prevey and Arthur Sargent absent.
Ferry service is expected to start in the last week of May.
Boston Harbor Cruises took over the city’s commuter ferry service last year from Water Transportation Alternatives of Quincy, which had run the ferry for six years.
The city purchased the 149-passenger Nathaniel Bowditch in 2006. The ferry operates from the Salem Wharf on Blaney Street.