Friday, November 14, 2014

Nova Star a snowbird - NOT : Updated Post


Original post  (see below for latest news)

The ferry Nova Star , like many Canadians, is heading to Florida for the winter. Reports indicate that winter heating a costs in Yarmouth are behind the move to Fort Pierce, FL. The ship is due to sail November 15 and arrive in Fort Pierce November 20.

Since completing a disappointing first season a bit earlier than planned, the ship has been idle in Yarmouth.
The owners have been seeking winter work for the ship, but so far have not announced any success. Various subsidies from Nova Scotia and perhaps Maine are expected to allow the ship to continue to run in 2015.

Meanwhile a group called Canamerica Cruises, which includes a number of people associated with the previous service offered by Scotia Prince Cruises, say that they will be proposing an alternative for the 2015 season. They have secured a ship which they are calling Scotia Prince II, a 30 year old ship with a passenger capacity of 700 (versus 1,120 on Nova Star). They are not revealing its present name.
Canamerica claims that they can run the service profitably with the smaller ship.

Scotia Prince, built as Stena Olympia in 1971, operated a seasonal Yarmouth -Portland service from 1982 to 2004. Its passenger capacity was 886 berths and 634 deck passengers. That service ended when a dispute with Portland could not be resolved. 
After emergency duties as an accommodation ship in New Orleans in 2005-2006, it worked in the Mediterranean. A plan to use it as a duty free ship in Sri Lanka fell through, and it arrived off  Chittagong, Bangladesh April 2, 2012. It was beached April 10 and broken up.

Perhaps with time to build up more publicity, lower gasoline prices and a lower Canadain dollar, 2015 may be a better season for Nova Star. After all the money poured into it I don't see governments entertaining an alternative or competing service. I give the Scotia Prince II a snowball's chance in Florida.

Last night's post was correct at one point, but plans change!. Apparently under pressure from the Province of Nova Scotia to keep the ship within the Province's legal jurisdiction, the decision was made to go move the ship to Shelburne instead of Florida. Today's Chronicle Herald states that the agreement with Nova Star Cruises, the operator of the ferry, has expired. The Province has been in talks with the ferry's owners, ST Marine, but is not saying what the future may be, including whether a different operator may be sought.
As I understand it ST Marine is an offshoot of the ship's builders, who were unable to sell the ship.It was chartered to Nova Star, but no one is saying if that charter is still in effect.

Nova Star is a big ship to tie up in Shelburne, but not the first troubled passenger vessel to reside there. Pearl Mist resided there until the dispute between Irving Shipbuidling and Pearl Seas Crsuises was resolved.
But before that the Mercator One was brought to Shelburne in March 1978 after the Province's first attempt to enter the cruise ship business flopped.The converted ferry was heavily financed by the Province, but only had one short season of cruising in the Caribbean before it was put up for sale.       


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