August 14, 2013

Maine-based venture chosen for talks to restart ferry

Groups are pleased that the Portland-Nova Scotia service may resume in summer 2014.

By J. Craig Anderson
Staff Writer

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Maine-based Quest Navigation Inc. has joined with International Shipping Partners of Miami and ST Marine of Singapore to operate the ferry service between New England and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. The vessel, built in Singapore, would be called the Nova Star. It has 162 cabins, two restaurants and a maximum capacity for 1,215 passengers. It is 59-feet longer than the Scotia Prince, which operated between Portland and Yarmouth from 1982 to 2004.

Courtesy of Quest Navigation

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Mark Amundsen, president and CEO of Quest Navigation, said his company was honored to be chosen for the ferry initiative. Two other companies, P&O Ferries of England and Balearia Caribbean Ltd. of Miami, also had bid for the job.

“We are pleased to be invited to negotiate the terms for a mutually beneficial agreement with the province of Nova Scotia,” Amundsen said in a written statement. “We look forward to launching the Nova Star Cruises ferry service beginning in 2014, and we are committed to providing a world-class cruise ferry service for generations to come.”

No specifics were given as to what the service would cost.

Graham Steele, Nova Scotia’s economic and rural development and tourism minister, said Tuesday in a news release that “we’ve said all along that the province would support a ferry with the right business model and the right partners. We are very close to having a ferry service that will stand on its own, a service that can be successful and profitable, that families of Southwest Nova Scotia can count on well into the future.”

The process of selecting a potential ferry operator allowed an evaluation team to communicate with the companies, request more information, ask questions about the plans they submitted and meet with each of them, Canadian officials said.

They said a team of representatives from the Nova Scotia International Ferry Partnership and the province evaluated the three bidders’ proposals based on financial stability, management structure, expertise, and a history of managing successful ferry services, as well as tourism and marketing experience.

The Nova Star, built in Singapore, is a conventional cruise ferry with 162 cabins, two restaurants and a maximum capacity of 1,215 passengers. At 528 feet, the ship is more than 50 feet longer than the Scotia Prince, the cruise ferry that operated between Portland and Yarmouth from 1982 to 2004.

The high-speed Bay Ferries catamaran The Cat, which took over the route in 2005, was a smaller and faster vessel. But it consumed far more fuel than a conventional ferry, and the fuel costs and dropoff in riders led to the suspension of service four years ago.

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at

Twitter: @jcraiganderson

Correction: This story was revised at 10:42 a.m., Aug. 14, 2013, to state that the berth in Yarmouth would have to be dredged and the terminal cleaned up, according to Jeff Monroe, Portland’s former port director and a consultant to ferry services.

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