Nova Star receives OK to sell tickets; company asking to push back startup to May 15

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The Nova Star.

By Tina Comeau

THE VANGUARD

www.thevanguard.ca

Nova Star Cruises has received permission from the United States Federal Maritime Commission to start selling tickets for the Nova Star ferry service between Yarmouth and Portland.

And the company is also looking to push back the targeted startup of the service by two weeks to May 15.

"Nova Star Cruises has submitted a request to the Nova Scotia Department of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism to adjust the start date of the cruise-ferry service to May 15," Sean Lewis, a spokesperson for the ferry company told the Yarmouth Vanguard on Wednesday afternoon.

Tina Thibeau, a spokesperson for the Department of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism told the Vanguard Wednesday afternoon, "The province has received a request from the company. Any change in the ferry’s schedule requires the Minister’s approval, as part of the agreement between the province and the company."

EDITOR'S NOTE: The approval to push back the season start to May 15 was granted on March 20.

The company had been sticking to a May 1 start to the ferry service, which for many in the public seemed too ambitious – if not unachievable – considering that the ferry is only now en route to North America, and until now the company had not been permitted to begin taking reservations as the necessary approval from the United States Federal Maritime Commission had not yet been granted. Until today, that is.

Without the approval from the commission Nova Star Cruises had not only not been allowed to take reservations for the service, but it couldn't even advertise fares on its website.

An application submitted only recently by the ferry company has now been approved, in a much shorter time-frame than the standard 60-day approval period.

Commissioner William P. Doyle, of the United States Federal Maritime Commission, issued the following statement on Wednesday, March 19, regarding Nova Star Cruises Limited:  "Today, the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission issued Nova Star Cruises Limited its Certificate (Performance) after reviewing the company's application and surety bond documentation.  This effectively allows Nova Star Cruises to advertise, take bookings and payments, and issue tickets. Nova Star will still need to secure its Certificate (Casualty) before it can embark passengers."

The company says it is looking to start selling tickets soon, although "soon" will likely only be towards the end of next week.

The Portland Press Herald is reporting that, according to a company official, the ferry is scheduled to arrive in Yarmouth on April 14. After that it will travel to Portland on April 16, where machines for the casino will be installed.  It is being reported that the vessel will remain in Portland until May 10, with visits afterwards to Boston and Portsmouth, New Hampshire before making its maiden voyage to Yarmouth on May 15.

Asked about the ferry coming to Yarmouth, Lewis said, "Nova Star departed Singapore on Saturday, March 15, to embark on its 10,000-mile journey to Yarmouth, N.S. The trip is expected to take about a month, with the ship arriving in Yarmouth, NS in mid-April."

Yarmouth will be the first North American port of call for the vessel.

The casino equipment still needs to be installed in the ferry once it arrives in Portland.

Meanwhile, the company that is partnership with Nova Star Cruises to look after the reservations system is in the process of collecting résumés from people interesting in Yarmouth-based positions as passenger service agents.

Intergy of Bedford says they’ve already received a number of résumés but they’re hoping for more.

“We have received a number of resumes and we are beginning interviews next week and training the first week of April,” says Clarke Squires, president and chief operating officer of Intergy Applied Hospitality Solutions.

Squires had previously said they were looking to fill, at this stage, six to eight positions. He now says, however, that they've updated their projections and up to 16 full and part-time positions will be filled in Yarmouth. These are seasonal positions.

People can submit résumés by email at hr@intergy.ca or by mail to: Intergy, 30 Damascus Rd, Suite 201 Bedford, Nova Scotia, B4A 0C1.

There will also be 11 people employed as stevedores and security at the terminal. Nova Star Cruises says MacKenzie Security, which did this work for previous ferry services, will be looking after this aspect of the ferry operation.

Another annoucement pertaining to service was also made on Wednesday, March 19, when it was made public that Nova Star Cruises has reached a lease agreement for the Yarmouth ferry terminal. You can read that story here.

Organizations: United States Federal Maritime Commission, Star Cruises, U.S. Federal Maritime Commission Portland Press Herald

Geographic location: Nova Star, Yarmouth, Portland North America Boston Portsmouth, New Hampshire

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