By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,758)
The 528 ft. state-of-the-art, luxury ferry Nova Star arrived in Portland Harbor at noon today with Captain George Pallas at the helm. The nine-hour trip from Nova Scotia (ordinarily ten hours) had a minimal crew aboard and Nova Star Cruise officials aboard.as well. White caps were seen in the overnight journey by passengers with 4 ft. swells, but because of the size of the ship and the two articulative stabilizers on both sizes, it was very smooth sailing according to Lisa Arnold, VP, Nova Star Cruises, a passenger, at the Ocean Gateway terminal this afternoon.
The ship will be in Portland for ten days for testing and infrastructure work that needs to be accomplished. The casino needs to be completed, a cat walk out to the dolphin needs to be built and work on the gate needs to be completed, said David Bernhardt, Commissioner of Maine DOT. Then Nova Star will proceed to Boston for its christening on May 12th. Boston was chosen because it is a niche market the owners would like to capitalize on more fully than it has already. It’s first trip back to Nova Scotia will be on May 15th from Portland – with a proper send-off from the City of Portland.
Meanwhile, Blue Marine Services, Inc. was busy picking up sixty-nine employees of Nova Star at the Portland Jetport this morning and through tomorrow. They will serve as customer service employees on board the ship. They are coming from Spain, India and Eastern Europe according to Keith Nielsen, an owner of the Scarborough based company. The company is on call 24/7 in case of crew emergencies. “It’s a niche business that we’ve perfected,” Nielsen said.
Bob Leeman, marketing manager, for Cruise Portland, said that this season there will be fifty-seven cruise ship visits beginning with small ships in May. For 2015, fifty-four visits are anticipated to date. That includes four visits from the new Royal Caribbean of Florida which will be the largest ship to visit Portland. Leeman makes three visits a year to Florida to schedule cruises for Portland Harbor; in October, November and March.
“Two years ago the return of a ferry service between Portland and Nova Scotia was just a dream. It’s here now and reinforces that Portland’s role as an international port,” said Mayor Michael Brennan. “The economic impact will be far greater for Nova Scotia than here because of its smaller population. But certainly it will be very good for our economy as well,” he said.