November 19, 2013

Nova Scotia ferry to feature restaurants, theater, casino

Gov. LePage joins local officials and the mayor of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, to highlight plans for the ferry, but ticket prices are still unknown.

By Tom Bell
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

Today's poll: Nova Scotia ferry

Today's poll: Are you likely to take the new Portland-Nova Scotia ferry?



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“This ferry is going to be a great thing” for both Maine and Nova Scotia, Gov. Paul LePage said Monday at a news conference in Portland.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer

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The 528-foot Nova Star will cruise at 21 knots, about 24 mph, and make the crossing between Portland and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, in nine to 10 hours.

Courtesy Savvy Inc.

Additional Photos Below

Features of the Nova Star

21-knot cruising speed

Three restaurants: a 100-seat fine dining restaurant, a 107-seat casual pub-style choice and a 210-seat buffet option

Three bars, including a sun-deck lounge

Children’s play area

4,300-square-foot casino gaming room

4,300-square-foot conference center and theater

Retail store and duty-free shop

Fitness center

Spa with massage, and manicure and pedicure services

Mood, the Yarmouth mayor, said Monday that she was so happy about the planned ferry service that she could tap dance at the lectern. She said the town is working hard to get its ferry terminal rebuilt by May. Canada’s federal government, which owns the terminal, has committed to spending about $3 million toward that work, Churchill said.

Nova Scotia will provide $10.5 million in startup costs for the service, and has pledged $1.5 million annually over seven years to market it.

Nova Star Cruises also is seeking a loan from a Maine bank, and George Gervais, commissioner of Maine’s Department of Economic and Community Development, has been helping the company in that process, said Jonathan Nass, a senior policy adviser for the governor.

Portland’s Ocean Gateway terminal will need a new gangplank, which is expected to cost about $1 million, Nass said. Mayor Brennan said he will ask the state to help pay for upgrades to the city-owned terminal.

Because national bus-tour operators plan their tours a year in advance, the ferry service won’t be able to attract those tours until 2015, said Don Haggett, sales director for Lafayette Hotels, which owns 22 hotels in Maine. However, there is plenty of time to market the service to smaller tour companies and individuals, he said.

The ticket prices will be a critical factor in attracting passengers, said Donna Hanson, vice president of The Maine Tour Connection in South Portland, which specializes in tours of New England and eastern Canada.

People who travel to Nova Scotia now have the option of driving 300 miles to Saint John, New Brunswick, and then taking a ferry to Digby, Nova Scotia.

Taking the ferry from Portland, rather than Saint John, can save people more than five hours of driving. Hanson said the new ferry also will give people a place to sleep overnight, an option that’s not available on the three-hour ferry ride to Digby.

But if the Portland-Yarmouth ferry is so expensive that people can save money by driving, that’s what many will do.

“They will go the highway,” Hanson said. “That’s the bottom line. Everybody is looking at the price.”

Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at:

Twitter: @TomBellPortland

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Today's poll: Nova Scotia ferry

Today's poll: Are you likely to take the new Portland-Nova Scotia ferry?



View Results