The allure and pride of New England and the Atlantic Canadian Maritimes is the sea, a feature that draws millions of tourists between our two great countries.
Quest Navigation, which has submitted a proposal to operate a new ferry service between Portland and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, recently signed a long-term charter agreement to operate a 1,215-passenger ship, to be christened the Nova Star.
The Maine company says it has a contract to lease a new vessel for an overnight ferry service between Portland and Yarmouth Nova Scotia. The vessel, the Nova Star, built in Singapore has 162 cabins, 2 restaurants, and a maximum capacity for 1,215 passengers and an undisclosed number of automobiles. It will depart Portland Maine at 8pm arriving in Yarmouth Nova Scotia the following day at 7am and returning to Portland at 5pm.
Service is expected to begin on May of 2014 if it is awarded a contract by the Nova Scotia government. The province has said it will provide as much as $21 million over seven years to subsidize ferry service which will boost the economy.
The ferry between Maine and Nova Scotia would cater to tourists in the summer. For the rest of the year, it would carry trucks back and forth with cargo between the USA and Canada.
The Nova Star was designed to cross the English Channel between Le Havre, France, and Portsmouth, England however the company that planned to buy the ship canceled the purchase before delivery, citing construction delays.
Studies have shown that a ferry service in the Gulf of Maine can succeed only if uses a conventional ferry that operates year-round and carries trucks. Portland and Yarmouth are 207 miles apart by sea and about 750 miles apart by road.
For a number of years prior, Bay Ferries and Prince of Fundy Cruises operated service across the Gulf of Maine from Yarmouth Nova Scotia to the Maine for Portland and Acadia National Park (Bar Harbor) destinations.
On December 18, 2009, Bay Ferries announced that it will be ending its Gulf of Maine service after the Nova Scotia Government ended the subsidies resulting in 120 jobs being lost. A proposal was also denied in 2011 for a service that would have linked Boston with the province’s capital city of Halifax. This amazing ‘Cat’ was a catamaran that literally flew like a feline across the water at speeds greater than 55 mph making the Portland leg of the trip in a little under 6 hours versus the previous 11 hours. The newly proposed service will resume a more lengthy trip of 11 hours in style, and with overnight luxury cabin accommodations and first class meals.
The infamous ‘Cat’ has since been purchased by Taiwan and is now called Hai Xia Hao and is a passenger - vehicle ferry operated by Fujian Cross Strait Ferry in Taiwan ROC.
New Englanders will again have a renewed way to venture between the ‘pride of Atlantic Canada’ and explore the many regions of this fascinating province from the seaports of Yarmouth, Digby, and Shelburne to name a few, all the way to Boston’s sister city of Halifax and the grandeur of Cape Breton Highlands National Park. On the other hand it offers the opportunity for Canadians to venture ‘south’ to scenic Acadia National Park and the vibrant cities of Portland and Boston; linked by local Amtrak rail service from the ferry terminal.