Yarmouth - Portsmouth ferry service to be reborn

NOVEMBER 12, 2013 — The Province of Nova Scotia today announced it has signed an agreement with Quest Navigation, Inc. and Singapore shipbuilder ST Marine Ltd. to re-establish the Yarmouth, N.S. - Portland, ME, ferry service. The cruise ferry service will operate under the brand name Nova Star Cruises and provide daily round-trip service within 24 hours, from May 1 to November 2 next year.

"We are excited to have reached an agreement with the province, and are looking forward to offering passengers a unique and entertaining travel experience between Yarmouth and Portland," said Mark Amundsen, president and CEO, Quest Navigation. "Over the next few months we will continue to work full steam ahead with the province, our partners and the tourism industry to begin ferry service in May 2014."

As part of the agreement, the Province of Nova Scotia will provide Nova Star Cruises with up to CDN $21 million of financial support over seven years to assist the company with re-establishing the ferry service.

The Province committed to the seven year subsidy in September 2012 in an effort to restore ferry service across the Gulf of Maine which was lost at the end of 2009 when Bay Ferries Ltd. ceased operating The Cat after Nova Scotia ended an earlier subsidy program.

Nova Star Cruises estimates that more than 100,000 passengers will step aboard its 161-meter cruise ferry, Nova Star, in the first year of operation.

"We would like to thank the Government of Nova Scotia, the Department of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism, the State of Maine, the Nova Scotia International Ferry Partnership and, in particular, the people of Nova Scotia for their confidence and support in ensuring the return of this vital service. We look forward to providing a world-class cruise ferry service for generations to come," said Steve Durrell, COO, Quest Navigation.

Quest Navigation has contracted with Hollywood, FL, based Maritime Holdings Group to serve as ship manager of the Nova Star.

Though Bay Ferries describes the Nova Star as "brand new," it actually has some history. It was ordered from ST Marine, which like its U.S. sister company VT Halter Marine is a subsidiary of ST Engineering, by France's Louis Dreyfus Armateurs (LDA) in July 2007 for cross English Channel service.

That deal went sour in 2011, with LDA giving notice of cancellation of the shipbuilding contract alleging delays in delivery and alleging that even if the vessel were tendered for delivery there would be a deficiency in the deadweight capacity. ST Marine disputed the allegations, but by October 2011 both parties had reached a settlement agreement, without admission of liability on either party, with ST Marine agreeing to pay LDA a sum of not more than 10% of the contract price.

That left ST Marine the problem of what to with the ship and, it seems, coming up with a solution that sees the restoration of a much-missed North American ferry link. What has not been disclosed is where the vessel will be employed in the winter season

Nova Star at a glance

Length Overall: 161 m

Design Draft: 6.05 m

Electronic Chart System: 4 Integrated Radar Systems

Propellers: 2 Controllable Pitch Propellers

Stabilizers: 2 Fin Stabilizers

Rudders: 2 90-Degree Articulated Rudders

Bow Thrusters: 2 Bow Thrusters

Cruising Speed: 21 Knots

Propulsion: 22,400 kW (30,436 HP

Consumption: 3.1 Metric Tons Per Hour at 85% MCR

Hoistable Decks: 2 Hoistable Car Decks on Deck 6

Ramps: 1 Bow Ramp; 1 Stern Ramp; 1 Tiltable Ramp Connects Deck 3 to Deck 5

Passengers: 1,215

Passenger Cabins: 163 Cabins, 652 Total Berths– 2 Owner-Class Cabins, 5 Deluxe Outboard Cabins w/Ocean View, 90 Standard- Class Outboard Cabins, 64 Standard-Class Inboard Cabins and 2 Wheelchair Accessible Cabins Business-Class Seats: 254

Vehicles: 336 Cars or Various Combinations of Cars, RVs, Motorcoaches, and Commercial Vehicles

Restaurants Fine Dining Restaurant: 100 Seats, Full-Service Restaurant Casual Restaurant & Pub: 107 Seats, Full-Service Restaurant Buffet Restaurant: 210 Seats, Buffet Service with Attendants

Entertainment, Lounges & Facilities

Casino Gaming Room: 400 sq. m

Conference Center & Theater: 400 sq. m for Events

Retail Store & Duty Free Shopping: 45 sq. m

Children's Play Area: 15 sq. m

Sun Deck Lounge & Bar: 512 sq. m Outdoor Deck, Bar, Live Entertainment and Dancing

First-Class Lounge & Bar: 20 sq. m

Forward Lounge & Bar: 137 Seats

Smoking Lounge: Climate-controlled, Ventilated Room

Fitness Center: 75 sq. Meter Exercise Facility, Cardio and Weight Equipment Spa: 25 sq. Meter Salon for Manicures, Pedicures & Massages Art Gallery: 13 sq. Meter Wall Area


The Nova Star vessel has elevators, bathrooms and common areas, as well as two cabins with wheelchair access, to accommodate people who are physically challenged.

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