Nova Scotia Safaris

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Photo journeys and travel news from Nova Scotia (and other fun stuff); contributed by Vaughn Mullen, blogger, social media enthusiast and consultant, Owner & Managing Director of Outdoor Nova Scotia, Liverpool, N.S.

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A Frequent Traveler Reviews the Nova Star: But Is Anyone Listening?

Meredith Braxton is a Connecticut lawyer and lifelong traveler to Nova Scotia, with close family ties to this province over several generations. Her son goes to university in Nova Scotia, she frequently uses the Princess of Acadia ferry connecting Digby and St.John, New Brunswick and she has many friends and relatives living here. In late September, 2014 Meredith and her husband took the Nova Star for the first time for “a quick trip” to Wolfville and Liverpool, hoping to enjoy and endorse the new ferry service between Portland and Yarmouth. This is her review of their weekend cruise.

Overall, we were disappointed. Though it is nice to be able to get to Nova Scotia overnight, it was not a great experience and definitely not worth the price; nor was it the friendly introduction to Nova Scotia one might hope for.

The first problem was the arrival times. On the website, NS claims it gets to Yarmouth at 8 am “AT” and to Portland at 7 pm. It does not, and they act like you’re crazy to expect them to. In the morning, we found out that it actually arrives at Yarmouth at 8 am “ship’s time”, which is Eastern Time. And on the way back, the announced at 7 that we would be docking in an hour, in a standard type of announcement, with no acknowledgement that they were an hour later than scheduled and no explanation. We didn’t get through customs until 9 pm, and got home very late.

Once on the ship en route to Yarmouth, we discovered several disappointments. First, there just wasn’t much to do and no real entertainment. That’s actually okay with me, as I have fond memories of hanging out on the top deck of the Scotia Prince on a beautiful night star gazing. And it was a beautiful night; but you couldn’t really tell. There is very little outdoor deck space on the NS. You cannot walk all the way around the boat. The only space open to the public is on the back, some of it covered, and there is no place for one to stretch out and star gaze or read a book during the day cruise. I’m pretty sure that luxury cruises that charge this much at least give you this. And the deck was so brightly lit that it was its own light pollution, preventing you from seeing any stars at all.

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In the cabin, the beds were comfy and the room quiet. The bathroom was also fine with strong enough water pressure to wash my hair, which is the acid test. However, the electrical service was the three-pronged UK type. Had they mentioned that on the website, I would have brought an adapter. Instead, if you need to plug something in, they charge you $15 to borrow an adapter, $50 if you don’t return it.

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On the way to Yarmouth, my husband was a little hungry, so we sought out options. We did not want to go to the restaurant or the buffet, because he wasn’t that hungry. So we tried the “Grab and go” option. They had a plate of sad looking muffins, a plate of sad looking scones, or you could choose a ham and cheese sandwich or a tuna sandwich; no prices posted. My husband ordered a ham and cheese and was delivered a pathetic specimen of 2 pieces of ham and 1 piece of cheese on two slices of white bread (see photo below). The bill: $9.20. In the morning, we skipped the buffet and had two croissants and decent coffee for $8; not bad.

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On the return trip, again we were disappointed that there was not much deck space, and no comfortable deck space, to hang out on. We tried the lunch buffet, which was okay (although salad bar didn’t have many options and the dessert bar ran out early and was never replenished). The posted price was $17. Without saying anything, with nothing posted, no mention anywhere, they added a 15% gratuity at the cash register, which you don’t even know about until you look at your receipt. This although there was no service. We sat next to uncleared dishes during our meal. I complained to the cashier and was told it was “Nova Star policy” and that it is on the website. I asked to speak to the manager and she couldn’t locate him. I complained at the reception desk and got the same response - it is their policy and is on their website. She claimed the manager was resting and could not be disturbed. I’ve read every word on the website - the gratuity is not mentioned. So apparently Nova Star instructs its employees to lie to their customers.

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In the afternoon, we checked out the “assigned seating” lounge which originally were touted as fully reclining seats, but now are claimed to recline enough to sleep on. They are without doubt the most comfortable seats on the boat and it’s a pleasant place to hang out. However, the seats do not recline enough to sleep. Also if you choose that option, there are nice showers available in that lounge. But you’ll have to rent a towel for $5 (see photo below). No one was friendly on this boat, no one knew anything about Nova Scotia, and no one gave passengers any information about Nova Scotia.

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The final insult was pulling in to Portland an hour late with no acknowledgement. I would rather drive around and spend a night in a five-star hotel - and still save money - over traveling on the Nova Star again. It was hugely disappointing as I was a fan of the Scotia Prince way back when.

authenticseacoast:

We have 10 ideas for your first fall weekend getaway in Nova Scotia starting with the Guysborough leg of the Trans Canada Trail. One of Lonely Planet’s top 10 Canadian adventure experiences, the Guysborough leg of the trail features one of Nova Scotia’s only suspension bridges and panoramic views of Chedabucto Bay, the largest bay on the Nova Scotia Atlantic coast. Read all our top Nova Scotia fall getaway ideas at: Nova Scotia Fall Vacation Top 10 High-res

authenticseacoast:

We have 10 ideas for your first fall weekend getaway in Nova Scotia starting with the Guysborough leg of the Trans Canada Trail. One of Lonely Planet’s top 10 Canadian adventure experiences, the Guysborough leg of the trail features one of Nova Scotia’s only suspension bridges and panoramic views of Chedabucto Bay, the largest bay on the Nova Scotia Atlantic coast. Read all our top Nova Scotia fall getaway ideas at: Nova Scotia Fall Vacation Top 10

Thanks to Tim Crowe, Co-ordinator, NS Lands for the tour this morning of the Port Mersey Commercial Park; and the unloading of wind turbine blades destined for the South Canoe Wind project in Lunenburg County. The blades (each 185 ft. long) and other components for all 34 wind turbines will be unloaded at the park and shipped by special transport to New Ross. The work is not expected to be completed until sometime in January.

It was great to see the ‘Michelle C’ at the dock, the first ship (I believe) to use the facility since the mill closed in 2012.

The Great Blue Heron I discovered in a backyard near Digby earlier in the week. The young bird was happy to pose for photographs and didn’t seem at all bothering by the small crowd of people who had stopped by to see him/her. Amazing opportunity to photograph a Great Blue up close.  Beautiful to see. #greatblueheron #novascotia #visitnovascotia #outdoorns #digby #iphonegraphy #summer High-res

The Great Blue Heron I discovered in a backyard near Digby earlier in the week. The young bird was happy to pose for photographs and didn’t seem at all bothering by the small crowd of people who had stopped by to see him/her. Amazing opportunity to photograph a Great Blue up close. Beautiful to see. #greatblueheron #novascotia #visitnovascotia #outdoorns #digby #iphonegraphy #summer

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