July 2, 2013

Canada optimistic Gulf of Maine ferry service will resume

Eager to re-establish a tourism link to New England, Nova Scotia officials expect fresh proposals by Thursday. Will Portland be their U.S. destination?

By Tom Bell tbell@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

In this April 8, 1997 file photo, the Scotia Prince returns to Portland, Maine for the summer season as it passes the Portland Head light with Ram Island lighthouse in the background. Nova Scotia officials are optimistic that an experienced ferry operator will take their $21 million offer and relaunch a service next summer between Nova Scotia and New England. Portland has been identified as the leading contender to be the U.S. port.

Staff File Photo

Condon said there is wide agreement that the new ferry should be like the Scotia Prince, which offered some cruise ship amenities, but also carried vehicles. The Scotia Prince operated between Portland and Yarmouth from 1982 to 2004. It was replaced by the high-speed Cat.

"Make the boat part of the vacation," Condon said. "Speed is not the issue. The Scotia Prince was more of a cruise. People enjoyed the experience of waking up in a foreign country."

Condon said that Portland may be the best port because it's just the right distance from Yarmouth. The 12-hour journey between Portland and Yarmouth would allow for a round trip every day. He said Boston would be more expensive and the trip would take too long.

Christopher Wright of Digby, Nova Scotia, a former consultant to ferry companies around the world, said studies show that a cruise-like ferry service between Yarmouth and New England is viable. To compete, though, it would have to offer a good-quality vessel with attractive accommodations, he said.

Jeff Monroe, former port director for the city of Portland, said commercial trucking companies would use the ferry because drivers could sleep during the trip. That would allow companies to put one driver on each truck rather than two, he said.

Because the ferry would operate during the summer, its operator would need to find another route in a warm climate, such as the Caribbean, to keep the ferry and its staff busy during the winter.

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

tbell@pressherald 

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