Nova Star Cruises Limited, the operator of the new cruise ferry service between Yarmouth, Nova Scotia and Portland, Maine, announced on Wednesday that it has signed a lease agreement with the Town of Yarmouth for the use of the municipal ferry terminal.
Earlier int the day the company secured a Certificate of Performance from the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), giving the company the necessary approval to advertise fares and start selling tickets.
Under the seven year lease agreement for the Yarmouth Ferry Terminal, Nova Star Cruises will be responsible for operational costs and pay the Town of Yarmouth an annual lease and usage fee, based on passenger numbers. Given the company’s projected passenger count of approximately 100,000 in its inaugural season, Nova Star Cruises estimates that the lease agreement will generate more than $350,000 for the Town of Yarmouth this year.
And it hopes to generate the same amount of revenue for the town in the following years as well.
“We have been extremely impressed with the level of cooperation that we have received on the Yarmouth side to help us get where we are today,” said Steve Durrell, chief operating officer for Nova Star Cruises. “It has taken a tremendous effort on the part of many different stakeholders, including representatives for the Town of Yarmouth, the Yarmouth Industrial Commission, Transport Canada, Canadian Border Services Agency and all the contractors involved in this initiative.”
"The agreement that we’ve reached, in our view, is a great deal. In our estimate some $350,000 a year will be generated in revenue for the town of Yarmouth," Durrell added. “It provides us with a seven year agreement and two five-year options so it gives us operational stability for the next 17 years, so in our view it’s a great deal for both sides.”
The Yarmouth terminal is nearing completion of extensive renovations in preparation for the start of the new cruise ferry service. There will be up to 16 full-time and part-time reservation specialists and up to 11 security and operational personnel employed at the Yarmouth terminal.
“We are pleased to have reached an agreement with Nova Star Cruises that will provide the facilities to operate a successful cruise-ferry service between Yarmouth and Portland,” said Pam Mood, mayor, Town of Yarmouth. “The new cruise-ferry service will be a great economic benefit to Yarmouth and surrounding areas, and we are excited for our ship, Nova Star, to come in.”
The cruise-ferry Nova Star departed Singapore on Saturday, March 15 (local time), to embark on its 10,000-mile journey to Yarmouth, NS. The trip is expected to take about a month, with the ship arriving in Yarmouth, NS mid-April.
“It’s only fitting that Nova Star come to Yarmouth first,” said Mark Amundsen, president and CEO of Nova Star Cruises. “It’s just for a brief stop to test the ship-to-shore interfaces at the ferry terminal, but it’s sure to be a very exciting day — not just for us, but also for all the people of Yarmouth. They have been waiting a long time for this.”
The Certificate of Performance from the FMC provides Nova Star Cruises with the necessary approval to advertise fares and start selling tickets. The company submitted the application form and fees to the FMC on Tuesday, March 18, 2014, and the bond was issued by the FMC today, March 19, 2014.
Nova Star Cruises has teamed up with Intergy Applied Hospitality Solutions of Bedford, Nova Scotia to establish a reservations centre staffed with agents to assist customers in booking their tickets over the phone. The company is also implementing an online booking engine on their website at NovaStarCruises.com, which will enable customers to book tickets online.
“With everything we know and everything we have in place, we estimate that by the end of next week we will be ready to sell tickets for the 2014 season, which we expect to commence with the maiden voyage on May 15, 2014,” said Durrell.
The company has submitted a request with the Nova Scotia Government to move the proposed May 1 launch date back two weeks to May 15.
“We have been working within a compressed timetable in order to get everything in place to commence service,” said Amundsen. “It’s a very complex process. We don’t anticipate the change to have a significant impact on our business, but those extra two weeks could prove to be very valuable in our final preparations.”
Steve Durrell, chief operator officer of Nova Star Cruises, and Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood sign the contract for the lease of the Yarmouth ferry terminal. TINA COMEAU PHOTO