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testimonial modThe cessation of the ferry service between Nova Scotia and New England has had a direct, and often economically devastating, effect on businesses in Nova Scotia. Click and let us know your experience.

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10 NS-USA Ferry Facts

The province and the partners in a Yarmouth-Maine ferry venture have a signed deal, one of the major chips needed to fall into place for service to start in May.

Economic and Rural Development and Tourism Minister Michel Samson announced the agreement on Tuesday, calling it an "important milestone." It includes allowing the province to have a closer look at the ferry service's books.

The previous NDP government had announced an agreement shortly before the September election call, but Samson said no one had formally signed it.

The deal is with Singapore-based ST Marine, and Quest Navigation of Maine, which will form a venture called STM Quest Inc. It will operate under the name Nova Star Cruises.

Other agreements still have to be reached for the service to start next year, including border services for both ports, upgrades to the Yarmouth ferry terminal, berthing agreements with the two port authorities, and obtaining licences and permits fo ra ferry service.

All of those are on track, said David Oxner, executive director of the Nova Scotia Gateway Secretariat.

The agreement with the province has some changes to details in the letter of offer previously announced.

Samson said a key change for the province is being able to look at the ferry service's books.

"This will increase accountablity to Nova Scotians, something that I and our government place a lot of importance on," Samson told a Halifax news conference.

The deal also clarifies that ST Marine will put $3 million into the venture after the province provides its $21 million, which is scheduled to happen over seven years. The province is contributing $10.5 million for startup costs and $1.5 million a year for marketing efforts.

There are also clearer details on senior managers deferring part of their salaries if the ferry service loses money in a given year. The original letter of offer said four people could see half their pay deferred.

STM Quest plans service from May 1 to November 2 next year. The boat, called the Nova Star, would leave Yarmouth at 9 a.m., and arrive in Portland at 5 p.m., local time. It would leave Portland at 8 p.m., and get to Yarmouth at 7 a.m., local time.

Steve Durrell, chief operating officer of Quest Navigation, said the company is committed to the ferry's long-term success and expects everything will be ready for the spring.

"We are extremely confident we'll be able to meet that date," he said via teleconference.

Durrell said marketing plans are underway, and ads have been secured in some key Nova Scotia and Maine publications.

In Yarmouth, members of the three local municipalities met with International Ferry partnership co-chair Keith Condon, to discuss the Yarmouth ferry terminal, owned by the federal government. 

The terminal must be divested and will eventually be owned by the Yarmouth and Area Industrial Commission. 

Condon told the teleconference that good news came just after 2 p.m.

“Our MP Greg Kerr has just called us and told us that our proposal for funding...has been approved,” he said about money needed to improve the existing ferry terminal. 

“We are moving fast here,” Condon said about a plan they've been working on since January. 

He said meetings are planned with Canada Border Services officials and engineers about the state of the 1950's era ferry terminal. 

“The plan is to rejuvenate the current property for a two to three year period while we design a new terminal.” 

He said they expect to have between $2.6 million and $3 million to work with. Kerr could not be reached Tuesday, but is expected to provide details this week.

Much of the money will be used to install new equipment and also to repair pieces of floating dock that will be used for a long time. 

“It's not all for short term (use),” Condon said. 

Yarmouth County's three municipalities will cost share in the amount, with the feds providing 80 per cent in what he called stage one. 

Stage two is replacement of the entire terminal, he said. 

“Those discussions are ongoing,” said Condon. 

“People and business operators from our town and around the region are ramping up now, poised to make the most of the new ferry service once it arrives,” said Yarmouth's mayor Pam Mood. 

The local area will be ready to welcome the Nova Star in just six months time, she said.

Local officials and Yarmouth MLA Zach Churchill, also the Natural Resources minister, said the economy was hit hard with the end of the previous ferry service. It stopped running after the previous government ended subsidies close to four years ago.



We have gone to our summer place on the LaHave Islands from the USA for the past 56 summers, without fail. The LaHave islands have become for us a treasure we enjoy muchly. Also, we ave made great friends with the people there. As a result of our summer visits I was chosen to be the President of the Lunenburg Historical Society for a period of 4 years. It was an upifting exerience for me, as an American, to be the leader if that group. It really was a pity the ferry from Portand to Yarmouth closed down, since, as a result, we had, sadly, to drive all the way around, or take the ferry from St. John to Digby and then drive to the LaHave Islands. A lot of gas, a lot of money!
Justus Fennel
We have family in Nova Scotia and used to several times a year. In the last few years without the ferry service, we haven't visited as often. We are so happy to hear that the ferry service will resume. This is a very positive thing for Nova Scotia. We look forward to using the ferry this summer. Thank you.
Syam Cafasso
Finally the province got smart. Now I will be able to visit my Mother's grave in Yarmouth, Nova scotia by just driving to Portland, Maine. It is only about a 7 hour drive where driving to St. John's, New Brunswick to take the ferry there is about 17 hours.
Richard E Hood
Thank God, finally!! As a property owner in Nova Scotia, thank God!!
Bruce Bourque
We live in New Jersey USA and own a house in Labelle, NS on Ponhook Lake. We take multiple trips each year to NS. Currently, we drive 12 hours to Saint John, NB then take the 3 1/2 hour ferry to Digby, NS and drive 1 1/2 hours to the house from there. The total travel time is 17 hours. Taking the ferry from Portland, ME , a 7 hour drive from Jersey, will save driving time and expense. We would rather take more time riding the Portland-Yarmouth ferry where we can relax. We always spend money in Portland and Yarmouth and towns north when we drive to Labelle.
Can't wait for ferry to return! Going at minimum to Florida 3x a year, plus wanting to partake in the New England states, finds extra time and money being spent, simply driving around NB to get there from NS. Bring it on and do it right. Don't have empty ferries that simply find the service being cancelled again in future. Schedule it right and we will come! Cannot wait!
Lisa C
For many years going back to 1969 we have been driving to Nova Scotia from Ohio and Pennsylvania to visit family in the summers using all the different ferries from the Blue Nose onward. Since the Maine-Yarmouth ferry stopped it takes us an extra day of driving through Maine to St. John N.B. to get there. I know Americans who want go to N.S but are put off by the long grueling drive. We would much rather spend that time visiting family and friends and take in more of what Nova Scotia has to offer. Air flights and car rentals are very expensive so driving is our only option. So, I'm happy to see that a new Portland-Yarmouth ferry proposal has been accepted and am looking forward to again making this ferry part of the trip. It's a win win situation for the sagging economy of the Southshore and tourism on both sides of the border.
d. herff
Just returned from a fabulous trip to Nova Scotia, with beautiful scenery and some of the friendliest locals we've ever met. The only part of the island we missed was the Yarmouth area - we simply ran out of time (eight days)! We decided to pick up that area by taking the ferry from Portland to Yarmouth on our fall trip to Cape Cod this year. Unfortunately, I found out today that the ferry is no longer running. Please bring it back - we'd love to see this last area of Nova Scotia!
My family would like to visit Nova Scotia but will either have to spend a great deal on airline costs or will effectively shorten our visit to spend a day driving there and back. The ferry from Portland to Yarmouth allows us to maximize our time in Nova Scotia.
Kerry O'Kelly
Please restore the NS-USA Ferry Service between Maine and Nova Scotia. Our cultures are so closely linked. This would give a great boost to both economies which these areas so desperately need. It is time for both countries to recognize the economic power these regions have to offer to the citizens of the world. Please don't deprive our citizens on both sides of the border the privilege to visit relatives and friends. Thanks, David Sharpe
David Sharpe
I wait with great anticipation for the Ferry from Portland to Nova Scotia to be a sure thing.I plan to return to the Home of my birth with a big move this spring. My plans are to take the ferry from Portland over to Nova Scotia , I am too old to pull a car and drive the transport all the way around. I also want access to all the things I love about the United States where i have lived since 1978. Being a dual Citizen i plan to make a number of trips back and forth through out the year enjoying the beauty of both countries.Please make this happen and let us know what month the start up date will be so i can make my reservations . Respectfully Mary
Mary Margaret Day
We wen on the Cat in 1999. It was an amazing way to get to Nova Scotia. My mom died and we moved to another house that would give my dad a place to live. He had some good years with us and now has passed on too. We always wanted to see more of Nova Scotia . I had a week I could get off from my job. When we found out that there was no ferry service from the states to Nova Scotia we planned a driving trip but most of it has been spent going and coming with much of our time in new brusnwick going and coming. We ran out I'd time and STILL could not see cape Breton and drive the Cabot Trail. Very sad about this . Wonder if we will ever be able to get back. Hope they get a ferry out of Boston - that would really help us!
Susan Mosay
We winter in Florida every year, The ferry to Maine was really a great help on reducing the driving time to get there. Now it takes four long 10 hour days on the road. This year we start to fly south and will do so using American air carriers until we get a new ferry. When this is a reality then i am sure that a lot of Canadians and Americans will be very happy.
Ches Chaulk
I have taken both the Scotia Prince and the Cat from Portland to Yarmouth many times. I visit Nova Scotia every summer and we had a summer place there for a while. I just returned home from my annual trip ... all the way around.. and have sworn that I will NOT return to my favorite place on earth till that ferry is up and running again. That drive is grueling. There are ports with custom stations in both Portland and Yarmouth that don't get any use. Yarmouth is hurting badly from this decision to stop the ferry service. Can't wait till things are back to 'normal'. The ferry trip was a big part of the whole Nova Scotia adventure. The Prince was the best because it saved a night in a hotel on the way over. I don't think any of us can tell you enough...BRING BACK THE FERRY!!!! SOON!!!!
Debbie Cohen
We live in Boston and have several friends in Nova Scotia who we like to visit. A number of years ago we took the overnight ferry from Portland, ME to Yarmouth, NS which was great. We visited Nova Scotia this summer and were dismayed to discover that the ferry no longer operates and that we would have to drive much further to do the trip. We also looked into flights, but discovered that the return fare for a nonstop flight is typically over $700 per person. While in Nova Scotia, we noticed that many of the tourist sites we visited were very quiet, with few visitors. We would love to have the Portland-Yarmouth ferry service again!!
My husband and I visited Nova Scotia in 2001 and fell in love with the area so much that we bought a property right then and there. It was so easy to get there. We had the Scotia Prince , The Cat and the airport. We summered there for 10 years bringing family and friends, and a lot of money $$$ to the Yarmouth area. Sadly this is not the situation now. My property has devalued and getting there now with a sick husband is virtually impossible. 11 hours and 2 days travel is unheard of. This government has done some evaluations of the impact of the removal of the ferry. Quite frankly I do not know where they came up with the bogus figures. The province is being deeply impacted and a mass exodus has occurred due simply to the removal of the ferry service from Maine to Nova Scotia. My property is now for sale, but there are little to no tourist to see the beauty of this truly magical province or my property. So sad. Can only hope things will change. Then maybe I will be able to keep my real estate and bring back my friends to enjoy once again. Jean Adams Rindge Nh
jean adams
My parents bought a place near Yarmouth almost 30 years ago. The six of us children, then spouses and many grandchildren as well as relatives and friends used to go every summer. We often went more than once. My parents spent the whole summer and often stayed into the fall. We went so often that my niece used to call the Scotia Prince, "grandma's" boat. Since the ferry canceled my Mom and brother still soldier on ... making the far more difficult, expensive and complicated trek for a few weeks a year. My Mom is getting older and that may soon prove impossible, which will be very sad since Dad has passed and her best memories are there. I make it up there once every four or five years. Overall our family participation in a place we love and consider "home" has dropped by about 80 percent. We can get almost anywhere else in North America easier than we can get to Yarmouth. We can't wait for some realistic, affordable way to get to the most beautiful place we know.
Grace L. Blockislandlight.com
My family and I have enjoyed the ferry service to Yarmouth, NS from Portland, Maine for many years and many trips. I did the drive twice since the ferry was discontinued, but it is too far to drive as nice as it is. I live in York, Maine and would love it if the Ferry Service was restored from Portsmouth, NH or Portland, Maine, even it was from Boston. The people and the scenery in the Maritimes are wonderful and I miss them very much. Hopefully you can get it going again. Best of luck. Don
Donald Trenholm customana.com
I am happy to see all the people who would ride the ferry if it was allowed to operate. I know that my company would like to bring a service back between Nova Scotia and Maine, but government regulations in the United States and Canadian requirements need to be satisfied before any service is going to be provided. I have curtailed my own travel to Canada because of the Drive and I live in Maine. We can all hope that this organization will find some one that is willing to provide a service and implement the service as quickly as possible. I know there is much support from all of Canada and all of American travelers.
Twilight Woods, LLC
This is my first testimonial regarding reinstating the ferry service between Maine and Nova Scotia. This week I visited Portland, Maine and asked the local residents about the ferry service to Nova Scotia that used to be. The residents said that the main reason for closing the ferry was the lack of passenger traffic. There weren't many passengers travelling to Nova Scotia. The ferry service provider was from Canada. I asked if there were any American travel companies willing to set up a service. But there weren't any. I am sure that the Maine state government and the municipal government will support the idea. Casco Bay Lines provide ferry services to many islands near and around Portland. The company has been around for a long time. They can add Halifax and St. John's, New Brunswick to their destination list during the summer months and see how it goes. Maybe the other American ferry providers will start offering services. Presently, it is impossible to charter a boat or ferry to Nova Scotia. We need to launch an aggressive marketing campaign in order to present the attractive opportunities Nova Scotia and New Brunswick can offer. We need an active support from the residents as well. It is much cheaper to travel to Halifax and St. Johns by ferry than to go via Montreal or Quebec City to the desired destination. We need to submit a petition to the state and local governments in Maine to get their attention. If we take an active steps in the US and in Canada then the ferry service will be reinstated much sooner.
Yelena Susloparova
I live in the Mid-Atlantic region of the USA, and many years ago my wife and I took the Blue Nose ferry to Yarmouth then drove and camped all the way north to Meat Cove on Cape Breton Island. Ever since then I have wanted to return to Nova Scotia, to explore its grandeur on a motorcycle instead. This summer a friend and I started to make plans to head to NS, with a limited amount of time to do so. To my disbelief I find the US to Nova Scotia ferry isn't running anymore! So we are having to rethink this trip totally. I know that southern NS could have really used the dollars we would have spent there too. Sorry Nova Scotia, maybe another time when I have more time, or when a very obvious tourist life line to the USA is started up again.
Christopher Winslow
My wife and I visited Nova Scotia about 10 years ago. We used the guide book sent to us to get our bed and breakfast accommodations we loved the trip and would like to see the Cape Breton part but we are now 10 years older. At 66 and 76 the drive is pretty tough. But if we could drive to Maine and then take the ferry to Nova Scotia we wold definitely put it in our travel plans.
Robert Storm
It's June 2013 and still no word when the ferry between Maine and Nova Scotia will be operational. Once again, we are planing our trip to our cottage in Shelburne, NS. Planning to drive from Florida and would very much like to catch the ferry in Portland, ME vs the added route to New Brunswick. Please let us know the status of the new ferry! Thanks! We need it now, but are hanging on for the promise of 2014. When you say 2014 we hope it's May 2014 and not December 2014!
I have always traveled to the eastern states from my home in Truro, NS, to show my horses. I recently moved a horse to Maine for training. I have to drive over 8 hours whenever I want to go ride him. If there was a ferry, I would be saved over 4 hours of travel time, let alone help with the driving time. I have also talked to many people in Maine who say they have stopped vacationing in Nova Scotia since the cessation of the ferry.
Jenna Fisher
We've been going to SW Nova Scotia every summer for the past 10 years. My wife is now pretty much refusing to make the trip because of the length of the drive to St. John, NB and the difficulty of driving that far with our now 3 year old child. A Portland ferry would change the equation for us, though the details are important. Trolling the internet for news about the ferry is frustrating; there is minimal information--no sense about where things are headed, and the conditions under which a new ferry service might run. How much would it cost? How long would it take? If traveling overnight, what would be the availability of cabins? It seems to me that the provincial government should be more forthcomming with the details regarding the requirements for bidders, and the state of affairs with respect to infrastructure improvements at the terminal in Yarmouth. More transparency would make it easier for both individuals and businesses to plan for the future, and would reveal to everyone just how feasible a new service is.
John Lafleur
Hi I attended university in Halifax in the late 1970s, worked in Bar Harbor Me, am a dual citizen (canadian and american) and so purchasing over 25 acres of oceanfront property was a dream of mine. I did that with a business partner several years back. We sold a few acres so that we could eventually build ocean front dream homes for others. Unfortunately, your inability to continue the ferry service has put us in a serious financial position. I can't sell some of my property but continue to pay my property taxes. Which ironically continue to go up. I am a realtor in Lexington KY and am very aware of the market trends. I worry about Yarmouth. I worry that this lack of investment in your beautiful province will create a problem for everyone. Tourists, residents, etc. Please invest in our future. Karen
Karen Deprey
I was born in Nova Scotia and have family in Digby. I am a dual american and canadian citizen . I have wanted to move back to Digby for a long time . If there were a ferry going back and forth to Portland that surely would make my decision to move back so much more desirable. I can assure you the tourist travel would add so much to Yarmouth and Nova Scotias economy. .I read in a portland newspaper in February almost as if the ferrry were a done deal. However when talking to my brother in Digby no one seems to know whats going on. Please advise whats happening and if letters of interest from US and Europe expressing interest would help in anyway. Thankyou and I am excited at the prospect of having the ferry service to the US close by.. When its a go I will make the journey back to Nova scotia . :) Margaret
Margaret Day
I've been trying to get to Nova Scotia for surfing for years. I would have made at least three runs in the last two years if the ferry service had still be operational. I know others like me who would have done the same. Bo Allen USA Citizen, Rhode Island
Boynton Allen
As an avid golfer, I am dying to get to Cabot Links, the new links course in Nova Scotia...I'm so disappointed there isn't a ferry to take me from Boston or Portland. Please get this partnership/business back up and running, The links will definitely lose a tremendous amount of money...
My husband and I purchased a summer home near Annapolis Royal in 2003. Our winter home is in Massachusetts. Although we have not yet done so, for the past several years, we have considered putting the summer home on the market and selling it. It has become too much of a burden to make the trip up without the ferry service. I'm afraid that the beautiful little towns in the area are being seriously hurt by lack of tourism between the lack of accessible transportation and the falling American dollar - I can see it already. American tourists are NOT going to be visiting SW Nova Scotia via car when other parts of the province are closer and more easily accessible. The Portland-Yarmouth ferry does not need to be a "luxury liner" - it needs to be a practical mode of transportation similar to the ferry from St John-Digby.
Maria Lamb

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