Planning underway for next week's Yarmouth visit of Nova Star

Tina Comeau, The Vanguard
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YARMOUTH - More details will be forthcoming this week about next week’s visit of the Nova Star ferry to Yarmouth.

The Nova Star at port in Lisbon, Portugal on April 7.

Yarmouth will be the first North American port of call for the vessel. The plans are for the ship to be in Yarmouth on April 15 and 16.

The ship is making its way after leaving Singapore in mid-March for the month-long journey. The ferry was in Lisbon, Portugal, on April 7.

On the first day of the ship’s arrival in Yarmouth, there will be a ceremony involving dignitaries who will speak about the vessel and the resumption of ferry service.

The following day, a media tour of the vessel is planned in the morning. After that there will be public tours of the boat.

Sean Lewis, a spokesperson for Nova Star Cruises, says they will be issuing more information in the coming week on the logistics of the public tours.

The visit by the ferry won’t just be a social call, there will be work associated with the visit. Lewis says there will be testing of loading and unloading of the vessel carried out with the docking facilities. This visit will also be the first time the ferry gets accustomed to maneuvering in and out of the harbour.

There will be some parking restrictions on parts of Water Street while the ferry is in port.

The Lobster Rock Wharf parking lot, for instance, won’t be available for normal service on these two days due to activities being scheduled around the ferry’s arrival.

Meanwhile, Nova Star Cruises has been selling tickets and taking reservations for the ferry service. The ferry will leave Portland on its maiden voyage on May 15 and arrive in Yarmouth the morning of May 16.

On social media there have been mixed reactions about the start-up of ferry service. While people are excited to see ferry service resume and have booked tickets or plan to, others are expressing disappointment over the fares, saying they are too expensive and will drive passengers away.

Nova Star Cruises is marketing the voyage as a cruise-type experience given the amenities on board the ship.

Asked if the company is concerned by those who have said they’ll be giving the ferry a pass, Lewis says they’re not because they are encouraged by the bookings that have taken place so far.

“As of last week, over 50 per cent of the maiden voyage was sold,” he says. “I think when you look at the number of people who have signed up already it shows that there is a market there. It’s been strong. We’re still confident over 100,000 passengers will go on the ferry this year.”

Another issue that has caused a lot of chatter on social media is the pet policy on board the vessel. Many people would prefer the option of being able to leave their pets in their vehicles so they're in more familiar surroundings as opposed to in a kennel where they can’t be visited. Nova Star Cruises says it is looking at the pet policy and considering whether changes need to be made.

Organizations: Nova Star Cruises, North American, The Lobster Rock Wharf

Geographic location: Yarmouth, Singapore, Lisbon Portugal Water Street Portland

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