The MV Blue Puttees was delayed on its way to North Sydney with about 350 passengers on board after it became trapped in ice within a few kilometres of the dock.
A second ferry, the MV Highlanders, arrived in Port aux Basques, N.L., with about 450 people on board after it struggled through the ice-choked strait.
Marine Atlantic spokesman Darrell Mercer said the MV Highlanders managed to move free of the ice Thursday morning.
The Crown corporation said the Blue Puttees left Port aux Basques at 11:45 a.m. local time Wednesday and hit ice about 15 hours later off the northern coast of Cape Breton.
Passengers were on the ferry for more than 24 hours. The ferry had an ample supply of food and fuel and the captain updates the passengers regularly by intercom and briefings in the common room, he said.
Marine Atlantic expects ferry crossings to be affected by the ice for the next 48 hours.
A coast guard icebreaker is scheduled to arrive Friday evening and will be used to assist any ferries that are trapped in the ice off Cape Breton's coast.
Marine Atlantic said it expects ferry crossings to be affected by the ice for the next 48 hours.