When the Nova Star first set sail in 2013, the company hoped the ferry service between Portland, Maine, and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia would become a permanent fixture in the Portland waterfront. And now it has – not because business is booming, but because it has all but ended.
The cruise ship sits anchored in the middle of the Portland Harbor, under maritime arrest, for unpaid bills. In total, creditors claim the company owes $1.6 million.
About two weeks ago, the Canadian province announced it was ending its relationship with the Nova Star, and negotiating a new contract with another company to run the same route.
Days later, on October 20, the Portland Pilots water transportation service filed a motion for a warrant of maritime arrest, alleging a breach of contract. The Pilots claimed the Nova Star owes them nearly $200,000. Since then, more creditors have come forward.
“I can’t think of anyone that wasn’t taken advantage of,” said Mark Usinger, owner of the A.L. Griffin Ship Chandlery, which has supplied the Nova Star for two seasons.
Usinger claims the company owes him $15,000 – which can make a big difference in his small business.
“It’s frustrating because it’s your money, and you’ve done the work,” said Usinger.
Gregory Mitchell, the City of Portland’s Director of Economic Development says the Nova Star Cruises owes them about $200,000 for a commercial loan and rental space at the Ocean Gateway Terminal.
“We know that the Nova Star officials have received their final [subsidy] from Nova Scotia, so we hope they will repay [Portland],” said Mitchell.
A spokesman for Nova Star Cruises released a statement, saying: “Nova Star Cruises has paid the majority of its suppliers and will honor all of its obligations, as it always has.”