Is this the new Digby-Saint John ferry?

Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier
Published on October 3, 2014

The ferry Blue Star Ithaki in the harbour of Tourlos on the island of Mykonos in Greece taken by Olaf Tausch and used with permission via Wikimedia Commons.

©Olaf Tausch/ Wikimedia

DIGBY - Many people in Digby believe they know the name of the replacement ferry for the Digby – Saint John service.

While Transport Canada did not respond to questions from the Courier, people in Digby have been googling the words “Blue Star Ithaki” to look at pictures of a ferry currently in service among the islands of Greece.

The Warden of the Municipality of the District of Digby, said in open council on Sept. 22 that she had seen pictures of the vessel chosen to replace the Princess of Acadia.

“We’ve known for months but we’ve been asked not to say anything,” she said. “It looks nice.”

Norm Lockyer, chair of the Bay of Fundy Marine Transportation Association, made similar comments at the association’s annual general meeting on Sept. 24.

“We aren’t making any announcements here but if you take a trip on the ferry, and ask the right people, they will give you a URL (web address) and even show you pictures,” he said.

Lockyer said an announcement would have to be made soon, if only because renovations will be necessary at the Digby and Saint John terminals to accommodate whatever boat is selected.

Transport Canada has repeatedly said the process of finding a ship to operate on the Digby –Saint John ferry service is on schedule although a timeline included with vessel solicitation documents said the selection process would finish May 31 this year and delivery of the vessel should happen by July 31. Modification and refit of the selected vessel were supposed to be completed by the end of December.

The Courier has heard the name Blue Ithaki from a half dozen people close to ferry operations, in the tourism industry and regular users of the ferry.

An international shipping news site,, has also reported that the government of Canada is in the process of acquiring the ship for something over $40 million.

The Blue Star Ithaki is 123.8 metres long, has a beam of 18.9 m and a draught of 4.9 m. It can carry 1,500 passengers—more than twice the capacity of the Princess of Acadia—and about 25 per cent more passenger vehicles, but only half the number of tractor-trailers.

The main deck of the Ithaki is 4.4 m high and has room for 105 cars and 21 trailers while an upper deck with a height of only 2.5 metres can accommodate another 94 cars.

The ferry has both bow and stern ramps for vehicle access and passengers can walk on via a gangway just aft of the bow vehicle ramp or via an escalator near the stern.

The ferry currently has three lounges with capacity for 92, 64 and 87 people respectively plus a main cafeteria that can hold 204 people and a café with seating for 120.

It is currently set up with five private cabins and 84 airplane style chairs and 24 crew cabins holding 80 employees.

Information for the Princess of Acadia shows it operates with a crew of just 27.

The Ithaki has a maximum speed of 25 knots and a service speed of 24 knots. It is powered by four Wärtsilä NSD 9L32 engines, operating at 750 rpm with an output of 4,140kW and three Wärtsilä NSD 6L20 auxiliary engines working at 1,000 rpm giving 990 kW each.

The ship uses a Kamewa 950 kW bowthruster for maneuvering.

The Blue Star Ithaki was built in 2000 in Korea by Daewoo Industries, and is measured at 1,857 dead weight tonnes. DWT is a measure of how much weight a ship is carrying or can safely carry.

On Oct. 2 the Marine Traffic webpage showed the Blue Star Ithaki underway at 19 knots in the area of Piraeus, Greece with recent stops in Syros, Tinos, Mykonos, all.

Princess of Acadia/ Blue Star Ithaki

Length: 150 m/ 124 m

Beam: 20 m/ 19 m

Draught: 4.6 m/ 4.9 m

DWT: 2,447 tonnes/ 1,857 tonnes

Speed: 20 knots/ 24 knots

Passengers: 650/ 1,500

Cars:159/ 199

Trailers : 40/ 21