The last day of our Nova Scotia/Cabot Trail adventure began with an epic breakfast at the Harbour’s Edge B&B featuring Esther’s unbelievable orange syrup on french toast. This is a sweet syrup, like maple syrup, but made with oranges and a distinctive orange flavor. Unforgettable and well worth the price, as was the lovely room we enjoyed as well.
After this, we rushed to pack the luggage and load the bikes for the short ride over to the ferry terminal, where we then waited in line for almost an hour to pass through the check-in gate and board the Novastar ferry for the return trip to Maine.
The first post in this series referenced the cabins of the Novastar, which we thoroughly enjoyed; but as the return trip is a daytime trip, we simply bought the very cheap reclining seats on the upper deck in the Seaglass lounge. These are very much like airplane seats, only they recline a lot more, and you have ample legroom. The Seaglass lounge has floor-to-ceiling windows so you can enjoy an unbroken view of the sea from your chair.
We “saw” some whales during the morning of our crossing, though far enough into the distance that it was pointless to try to photograph them. Really, what you see are small spumes of vapor spouting up from the surface of the water far off toward the horizon — too far away to actually view the whales that were making them. Nor did the whales, intent on their own errands in the Gulf of Maine, venture to entertain us by leaping out of the water or doing other cool whale stuff. So, we looked off into the distance and occasionally said, “Oh, there’s one!” However, this did occupy the better part of an hour, and so made the time pass more quickly.
I should also say that the Novastar does its best to entertain you on the crossing. In both directions there were several excellent live musicians playing and singing cover tunes of pop/rock hits. They also show movies and have a special area for kids (the “Shrimp Station”) where they project movies, have coloring and crafts, and offer supervised games for youngsters. For adults, there are also movies shown, along with (of course) the casino, the gift shop, a DJ and the spa. So, while it IS a long trip (about ten hours at sea), there are many diversions. They also sell satellite uplinks for internet connections ($5 USD per hour) so that you can access email and do whatever other internet stuff you like. And there are a number of restaurant choices at a variety of price points, all of which are excellent.
So, really, I can’t say enough good things about the Novastar and I highly recommend it. In talking with crew members (all of whom, by the way, go out of their way to be helpful and courteous), it appears that while ridership is up 20% over last year, there is still some question as to whether this ferry service will be economically viable in the long term. Their contract with Nova Scotia runs from May through October, and they were hoping to get a contract for the winter on the English Channel. I sincerely hope they continue to serve here in Maine because I would choose the Novastar every time, over driving two or three extra days through New Brunswick into Nova Scotia.
The trip ends in the early evening, and our trip concluded with thundershowers over Portland as we were entering the harbor. This gave us a lovely rainbow as a final memento of our trip:
After docking and disembarking, we waited in line to clear customs and made the hour-long ride home in the dark, where our house was waiting to receive us after an epic trip! Thanks to all for following us on this blog; I hope you got a sense of the many things we enjoyed about Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island. For any bikers who happen to stumble onto this blog, I plan another post with some considerations for anyone considering a trip around the Cabot Trail. Until then, happy August to all!