The Cabot Trail is purported to be one of the finest motorcycling roads in the world, sort of like Maine’s Acadia National Park loop road on steroids — winding mountain roads over stunning ocean vistas around the perimeter of Cape Breton Island on the far eastern end of Nova Scotia. We decided to find out if the hype matches the reality.
After a ride down ME-100 through Portland to Congress Street, the Franklin arterial and into the Old Port on Commercial Street, we boarded the Novastar ferry at the Ocean Gate pier for an overnight ride to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. The Novastar is now in its second year of operation, replacing the earlier high-speed ferry “the Cat”. It is sort of a combination cruise ship with ferry, vehicles occupying the lower decks while passengers enjoy the restaurants, casino and cabins on the upper decks.
Here you can see the ramp being lowered prior to the unloading of vehicles. Once the boat was empty, we were permitted to ride onto the boat, where several very courteous crewmen hurried to lash the bikes down to the deck. At that point we took our luggage (once you leave the vehicle deck, you cannot return to it until disembarking) and rode the elevator to deck 8 where our cabin awaited.
We paid $40 extra for an “exterior” cabin, which has a window, and were glad that we had done so, as it made the small space feel much bigger. I was afraid that the room would be tiny, stuffy and claustrophobic, but to the contrary it was well-lit and well-ventilated and we enjoyed it very much.
Truly, we really enjoyed the Novastar — it was clean, the food was great, the common areas were spacious and attractive, the crew was unfailingly helpful and courteous, and it was really fun to take a cruise to start our ride.
Was it worth it to ride the Novastar rather than drive to Nova Scotia? Debatable, but I think it was. It IS expensive — we spent close to $700 USD for the ride — but it saved us at least two days of driving, along with two days of meals and hotels and two days of wear and tear, both on the bikes and on us. While there are cheaper options on the Novastar to getting an exterior cabin, the privacy and the view were in our opinion well worth it. The return trip, by the way, is a day trip, so we will purchase the cheaper “reclining chair” option so we’ll have a guaranteed place to sit, but a cabin won’t be necessary coming back.
Our cruise put us into Yarmouth, Nova Scotia at 8AM, ready to head east for the Cabot Trail!