YARMOUTH, Nova Scotia — The huge new ferry in the harbor is everything that this old seaside town is not.
While Yarmouth appears worn down and rough around the edges, the Nova Star is sleek and modern.
On Wednesday, townspeople toured the ferry and marveled at what they saw.
Rona Hines, who works at the Comfort Inn in town, said the Nova Star is far more luxurious than the Scotia Prince, the ferry that ran between Portland and Yarmouth from 1982 to 2004.
“It’s not so clanging and ferry-ish,” she said. “It’s more like a floating hotel.”
Donna Halt, marketing manager of the White Point Beach Resort, said she was overwhelmed. “It’s amazingly grand and spectacular!” she declared.
It doesn’t take much to cause a stir in Yarmouth, which has fewer than 7,000 residents. Last week, there was a traffic jam when the new Burger King opened for business.
Now the town has the newest ocean-going ferry in North America. Nearly 530 feet long, the Nova Star is the largest vessel ever to call on Yarmouth.
On Wednesday, the ferry operator offered free tours. In all, 1,200 people toured the ship, including 22 journalists. People who waited to board formed a line that crossed the terminal parking lot and continued down Water Street.
People were still waiting in line when the ferry operator closed the tour at 6 p.m. to prepare for the ship’s departure. The ship is due to arrive in Portland at noon Thursday, but there will be no public tours here.
The tours Wednesday were limited to the ferry’s seventh deck, which contains most of the public areas, including a fine-dining restaurant, a buffet and a pub.
At the bow, there’s a piano bar with large windows that offer panoramic views. The piano will be installed in Portland.
There’s also a bar in the casino. The table games and 70 slot machines have yet to be installed.
At the ship’s stern is a bar called Big Nellie, named for Nelson Perry, who worked with Nova Star Cruises President Mark Amundsen at the Shelburne Shipyard in Nova Scotia. Perry died two years ago.
The seventh deck also has an art gallery that will display work by artists from Maine and Nova Scotia.
The ship has 162 cabins, including two large “Owner Suite” cabins that will cost $249 a night in the summer. The least expensive cabins will cost $99 in the summer and $79 in the spring and fall.
The cabins are bright and colorful. The ship’s decor, created by a Danish designer, has the clean, simple lines of Scandinavian design.
The ship will sail with a crew of about 130 people. Because the ship is flagged in the Bahamas, the operator can hire people from around the world. Many will be from the Philippines and will board after the ship docks in Portland.
The captain, George Pallas, who is from Greece, once served as captain of the Scotia Prince. Svein Kruse, the chief engineer, was born in Norway and now lives in Vermont as a U.S. citizen. The corporate executive chef, Holger Frohlich, is from Germany and works for FleetPro Passenger Ship Management, based in Florida.
Pallas noted that, below the waterline, the ship has two 16-foot-long stabilizers that pivot as each large wave strikes the ship, to make the ride smoother. The vessel also has two bow-thrusters so it can dock without help from tugboats.
Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood, who was ecstatic Tuesday when the Nova Star arrived, couldn’t stop smiling Wednesday after touring the ship.
“They said they would bring us a beautiful ship,” she said, “and they’ve done exactly as they said they would do.”
As the ship left Yarmouth for Portland on Wednesday night, people watched from their cars on the nearby dock and honked the horns.
Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6368 or at: