The Nova Star ferry departed Singapore early Saturday local time and is heading to the Gulf of Maine, a 10,000-mile journey that will take about a month and require about $1 million in fuel.
The ferry is scheduled to begin daily service between Portland and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, on May. 1.
The vessel will first arrive in Boston in mid-April, according to the operator, Nova Star Cruises. In Boston, there will be a ceremonial christening of the ship, which has never been put into service. The Coast Guard in Boston will examine the vessel, and game tables and 70 slot machines will also be installed.
The ship may also stop in Portsmouth, N.H., and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Its maiden journey with paying customers is expected to begin in Portland.
Nova Star Cruises is not advertising its fares or selling tickets because it is still waiting to receive two permits from the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission. Company officials say they expect to receive the permits soon and that the service will begin on schedule.
Shortly after departing Singapore, the ship was traveling at about 13 knots and headed to Colombo, Sri Lanka, for refueling.
Its four main diesel engines each have 5,600 kilowatts of power, allowing the ship to sail at a service speed of 21.4 knots.
The vessel will use the Suez Canal to reach the Mediterranean Sea. After passing the Strait of Gibraltar, it will enter the Atlantic Ocean.
The vessel was built to cross the English Channel and is not designed for long ocean voyages. In 2007, the French company LD Lines contracted with Singapore Technologies Marine to build a ferry for its passenger and cargo service between Portsmouth, England, and Le Havre, France.
The ship underwent sea trials in 2010 and was scheduled to go into service that year.
But in March 2011, the shipbuilder said in a news release that it had received notice from the French company that it was terminating its $179 million contract for the ship because of a dispute over a delay in construction and the vessel’s design.
The ship contains cruise ship-like features, including three restaurants, three bars and a fitness center. The ship also includes a children’s play area, live on-board entertainment, and a movie theater.
The vessel has 163 cabins and capacity for 1,215 passengers. It can carry 336 cars and 38 commercial vehicles.
Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at: