UPDATED: 3:10 PM. FRIDAY, SEPT. 12: It is being reported that Nova Star Cruises may make an announcement soon saying that they have secured a winter route for Nova Star during the off-season.
The Portland Press Herald is reporting that at a business gathering in Portland, Nova Star Cruises chief executive officer and president Mark Amundsen told the crowd that the ship will be fully employed all winter before returning to the New England–Nova Scotia run next spring.
It is reported that Amundsen declined to provide details about the winter crossing, but indicated an announcement would come next week.
On Sept. 12, a company spokesperson couldn’t provide any more information on the timing of a possible announcement saying talks were still underway.
On Sept. 8, Amundsen told the Vanguard the company was working on a winter route but no contract was in place yet.
The Cat ferry, the last ferry to operate between Portland and Yarmouth, also used to have a winter run in Trinidad and Tobago so it could generate income during the off season. It also tested a run between Florida and the Bahamas. For a short time the Scotia Prince also used to have winter work in the southern United States.
Nova Star Cruises will operate its New England to Nova Scotia run until mid-October. The last crossing from Portland to Nova Scotia is slated for Oct. 13.
The company is ending its service three weeks earlier than originally scheduled, saying bookings after the long weekend on October would have dropped dramatically.
Nova Star Cruises is leasing Nova Star from its builders and is required to make lease payments year round.
Meanwhile, Nova Star Cruises released its final August figures on Friday, Sept. 12, saying it carried 20,510 passengers during the month, which was 7,467 more passengers than in July.
"We knew from the outset that it will take some time to build this route back to where it was 10 years ago, but we are very encouraged by our first-year of operation," said Mark Amundsen, president and CEO of Nova Star Cruises.
Amundsen said he is especially proud of the impact Nova Star has had on the tourism economy of Nova Scotia.
“Many of the hotels and restaurants in and around Yarmouth and even up the southern coast are reporting their best season in years, and attribute it to the hundreds of people we’ve brought to Nova Scotia every day on Nova Star,” he said.
The numbers for August show that 10,913 passengers sailed on Nova Star from Portland to Yarmouth, with 9,597 making the trip from Yarmouth to Portland. Nova Star also carried a 6,769 vehicles in August, including cars, motorcycles, RVs, and commercial trucks.