By Tina Comeau
While Nova Star Cruises had originally said it was aiming to have its reservation system up and running by the end of January – a deadline that wasn’t met – a spokesperson for the company says the system will be launched in the next few weeks.
And the company continues to say it is on schedule for a May 1 start-up of ferry service between Yarmouth and Portland, Maine.
“In the next few weeks we will have the necessary regulatory approvals to advertise fares and launch the reservation system on NovaStarCruises.com,” says Sean Lewis, a public relations spokesperson who deals with media inquires concerning the ferry service.
Anyone visiting the Nova Star Cruises website over the past few weeks has been met with only one page of text, underneath a photo of the ferry with the words: Full steam ahead.
A message to the public reads: ‘Due to an unexpected delay, we are unable to publish a schedule of our fares at this time. We are working diligently to resolve the matter and will have the fares posted on our website as soon as possible. In addition, we expect to have our online reservation system up and running by the end of February. We apologize for the delay.’
It’s been reported in the media that the company has had to satisfy concerns of American authorities regarding ticket refunds. The company, it’s been reported, has had to prove it has enough money on hand to refund passengers in the event of ticket cancellations.
Although the company awaits the launch of the reservation system and the reposting of fares online – fares for the service were announced in December but don’t appear on the website – Lewis says marketing and promotion of the cruise ferry service is underway.
“Ads have been placed in many important tourism publications, including Nova Scotia's Doers and Dreamers, Maine's Maine Invites You and a number of regional visitors' guides,” he says. “In addition, we have already generated hundreds of fans and followers on social media and have made contact with top travel writers and bloggers in Canada and the United States.”
As of this past week Nova Star Cruises has 440 followers on Twitter and says it has around 2,000 likes on its Facebook page. But the Facebook page hasn’t been available for the past few weeks.
Lewis again explains it is because of the regulatory issues they have to work through.
“In the short term, the United States Federal Maritime Commission requested that Nova Star Cruises temporarily remove some information from the website and place the Facebook page in an unpublished state while we finalize the regulatory approvals process,” he says. “We expect to receive approvals during the next few weeks, and at that time we will re-publish the Facebook page and re-post information to the www.NovaStarCruises.com, including fares, and launch the reservation system.”
Lewis says over the next few months the company will continue to inform, and engage with, travellers as it prepares to welcome the first passengers on the Nova Star.
The Nova Scotia government is investing up to $21 million over seven years to see ferry service re-established between Yarmouth and Portland.
Nova Star Cruises indicated last fall that it is setting a target of transporting 100,000 passengers in the first year of service. The ferry can accommodate 1,200 passengers per crossing.