Nova Star ferry service doubles passenger count in July

Mark Amundsen (left), CEO of STM Quest and Nova Star Cruises, and Steve Durrell, chief operating officer of the companies, spoke in public for the first time about Nova Star Cruises' launch of renewed ferry service between Portland Nova Scotia. Amundsen and Durrell are both graduates of Maine Maritime Academy. Before launching STM Quest, the pair worked together at Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax.
Whit Richardson | BDN
Mark Amundsen (left), CEO of STM Quest and Nova Star Cruises, and Steve Durrell, chief operating officer of the companies, spoke in public for the first time about Nova Star Cruises' launch of renewed ferry service between Portland Nova Scotia. Amundsen and Durrell are both graduates of Maine Maritime Academy. Before launching STM Quest, the pair worked together at Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax. Buy Photo
Posted Aug. 17, 2014, at 5:59 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — There were twice as many passengers traveling aboard the new Nova Star ferry service between Portland and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, in July as there had been in June, the spokesman for Nova Star Cruises announced in a statement Friday.

Just over 13,043 passengers took the trip in July, compared with 6,791 in June, the statement said.

The ferry service, which features a casino, three restaurants, a theater, spa and art gallery on board, is poised to transport even more passengers in August.

“A number of factors have contributed to our continued strong growth,” said Mark Amundsen, president and CEO of Nova Star Cruises. “But probably the most significant one is the tremendous positive reviews we’ve received from passengers who have really enjoyed their experience aboard Nova Star and have highly recommended the trip to their friends and families.

The statement attributed slow ticket sales in the spring to a cooler season and to Nova Star’s late entry into the market. The service began on May 15, two weeks later than originally planned.

The 528-foot cruise ship has capacity for 1,250 passengers and 300 vehicles. In July, the ship averaged 421 passengers per day, and so far in August it is carrying 557 passengers per day.

The statement released Friday said the goal for Nova Star is to see between 500 and 700 passengers per day in the summer months.

Last month, Nova Scotia provincial officials advanced the final $2.1 million of the $21 million in loans promised to the ferry service. Those loans were originally meant to be spread out over the course of seven years.

At the time, Amundsen acknowledged unexpectedly low ticket sales.

The ship departs at 8 p.m. daily from Portland and arrives in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, at 7 a.m. the next day.

The ferry service resumed this year after a four-year hiatus. In 2009, a high-speed CAT ferry ended more than 50 years of service between Maine and Nova Scotia.

“We’ve said from the beginning that rebuilding this service, which ended nearly five years ago, will take time,” Amundsen said in the statement. “But with our continued growth, especially in August, we are very optimistic and positive about the future.”

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