PORTLAND, Maine — The Nova Star luxury ferry left its wintering grounds in South Carolina on Friday, starting a weeklong trip back to Nova Scotia in preparation for its second season of daily trips between Yarmouth, Nova Scotia and Portland.
That season is slated to start June 1.
The cruise ship projects having 80,000 passengers in the upcoming season, which is 21,000 more than its first season, which was troubled by a late start booking trips.
The ferry service is under pressure to use its second season to impress government officials in Nova Scotia, which has so far committed about $39 million to subsidize the ferry for two seasons.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported last week that provincial officials plan to reach out to alternative ferry operators for the 2016 season, seeking a more sustainable operation.
The Nova Star in its first year used all of a $21 million (Canadian) subsidy that the province intended to cover startup costs and marketing for seven years of operation. The province then extended another $5 million to the service to close out last season and reached a new agreement to provide $13 million to support Nova Star Cruises through the winter and into this season.
Gov. Paul LePage previously said he planned to introduce a bill that would allow the state to extend the company a $5 million line of credit.
Such a bill has not yet been introduced.
The ship has changed its daily departure times, leaving Portland at 8 p.m. to arrive in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, at 8 a.m. The ship leaves Yarmouth at 9:30 a.m., and it arrives in Portland at 6:30 p.m.
The ship will have a morning of public tours from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 31 in Portland, the day before its next sailing season officially begins.
To see the Nova Star’s voyage in real time, visit http://bit.ly/1EoWUq4.