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New Nova Star ferry service between Portland, Maine and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia

The Nova Star approaching Cape Forchu Lightstation, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia
The Nova Star approaching Cape Forchu Lightstation, Yarmouth, Nova ScotiaRoger Fasteson

The state-of-the-art Nova Star, began service in May, 2014 between Portland, Maine and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. It departs from Portland’s Ocean Gateway Terminal at 9 p.m., allowing ample time to enjoy the onboard food and entertainment and get a good night’s sleep in a comfortable stateroom.

Walk onboard or drive your vehicle. There are three restaurants onboard, the upscale Currents, Fathoms Buffet, and Piper’s Pub for snacks and sandwiches.

A morning announcement is made 20 minutes before rooms are to be vacated, leaving about an hour to relax in a lounge before the 8 a.m. arrival in Yarmouth. Enjoy the view of lighthouses, sea birds, fishing villages, and wooden houses surrounded by pine trees.

Yarmouth, Nova Scotia is on the southwestern tip of the province. After clearing Canadian Customs head up the hill to the Visitor Information Centre to pick up maps and additional ideas on what to see and do.

Yarmouth has a number of attractions that shouldn’t be missed:

  • Since the ferry arrives at 8 a.m., before museums are open, a good place to start is with a walking tour like the Sea Captains’ Homes and Mercantile Heritage Walk. Get a map at the Yarmouth Visitor Information Centre or downloaded it at YarmouthandAcadianshores.com. These grand homes, churches and stores built from 1850 to 1900 reflect the wealth from the sea in Yarmouth’s Golden Age of Sail when the city was major shipping center. One is the award-winning Yarmouth County Museum, housed in an historic Gothic Revival style former Congregational Tabernacle.
  • Next door is the Pelton-Fuller House, summer home of Alfred Fuller, the original Fuller Brush Man, after his marriage to Primrose Pelton.
  • Imagine the small of smoke and the clung of the bell when you continue on to the Firefighters’ Museum of Nova Scotia and nearly every kind of apparatus used in Nova Scotia from the 1800s to the 1930s.
  • Step into the waterfront of Yarmouth’s past at the Laurence Sweeney Fisheries Museum on Water Street, a scaled-down version of the seven-building working waterfront.
  • Walk through the shady Frost Park and note the old headstones in Yarmouth’s first burial grounds. The three-tiered fountain is 150 years old and there’s an observation deck overlooking Yarmouth Harbor.
  • The Royal Bank of Canada’s Yarmouth Branch building now houses the only satellite branch of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

If you bring your car along on the ferry, you shouldn’t miss:

  • The impressive Cape Forchu Lightstation is Nova Scotia's second most photographed lighthouse after Peggy’s Cove. It’s the “Beacon to Canada” for visitors on the Nova Star Cruise. The light keeper’s 1912 house is open to visitors, and there is a museum, tea room, and gift shop with local crafts.
  • Nearby Sanford has the smallest working drawbridge in the world. The Sandford Drawbridge, in a little fishing community, was built to span both sides of the wharf system without having to travel around by road.

Top dining choices:

A quick meal: The Red Shed at 76 Water Street is a popular food cart that serves fresh local favorites.

Local and Acadian specialties: Rudder's Seafood Restaurant & Brew Pub at 96 Water Street overlooks the waterfront and is is a popular choice for local seafood like haddock, scallops, salmon and lobster —boiled, in a roll, or atop poutine — or some Acadian Rappie Pie. There’s live musical entertainment most nights.

An elegant dining experience in the historic district: You might need reservations for Chef Michael Hawrys’ three course menu at the MacKinnon Cann Inn.

Accommodations

A touch of Yarmouth’s Victorian splendor and history: The MacKinnon Cann Inn, a duplex house in the Historic District built as a wedding gift for each of his two children by Captain Augustus Cann, owner of six ships. The two front doors and staircases lead to mirror-image floor plans.

For more on the Nova Star and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia see Notable Travels' A cruise to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia aboard the new Nova Star.