For over 20 years, the Scotia Prince ferry ran from Yarmouth, N.S., to Portland, Maine; after its operations there ended in 2004, it went on to house hurricane Katrina survivors, then moved across the Atlantic to Europe and India (it was used to evacuate Indian citizens from Libya during the crisis). Now, the storied ship that many Atlantic Canadians and New Englanders still remember fondly has been sold to a Sri Lankan buyer. It will be dismantled and turned into scrap metal, according to Miami-based International Shipping Partners, its manager.
Keith Condon, co-chair of the Nova Scotia International Ferry Partnership, who lives in Yarmouth, has fond memories of the Scotia Prince. In the summers, he says, there would be “floods” of visitors stepping off after the 10-hour trip from Portland. Riding the Scotia Prince was an experience: it could sleep more than 1,000 passengers, had a casino, a restaurant, and even live shows. “Some years we’d get up to 300,000 tourists flowing through here,” he says, many spreading across the province and into New Brunswick or P.E.I.
The abrupt end of the Scotia Prince’s Yarmouth-to-Portland service was blamed on a supposedly mouldy passenger terminal it leased in Portland (a lawsuit ensued). Another ferry, a high-speed catamaran, tried to fill the void, but its service ended in 2009, according to Condon, after a provincial subsidy was cancelled. “Since then, we’ve been trying to find a solution.” He calls it a “provincial issue.”
Suffering from a drop in tourism, he and other local business owners are banding together to try to get a ferry service reinstated—hopefully on a boat more modern than the Scotia Prince, but one that shares some of her glamour. The Scotia Prince, he says, gave tourists “an experience. With the casinos, and shows and restaurants, taking it was part of the vacation.”