The Nova Star ferry between Portland, Maine and Yarmouth ran at about 10 per cent of its capacity last month, according to the latest numbers from the City of Portland.
Portland has released figures each of the first two months the ferry has operated.
The numbers for June show a total of 3,923 people made the trip to Yarmouth. Another 2,817 sailed to Portland in the month of June.
The vessel's capacity is 1,215 passengers for each trip.
Mark Amundsen, President and CEO of Nova Star Cruises, told CBC News in an interview before the numbers were released, weather was a factor in the lower than expected June numbers.
“I would say June was softer than we expected and that probably had a lot to do with weather as well. We got off to a rough start with that hurricane in July and so we’re really just two weeks into the summer season,” he said.
“We were at about 50 per cent where we wanted to be. That is far from our plan.”
Amundsen says 10 years ago there were about 300,000 people taking the ferry per year. But he said getting back to that number will take time.
“This is a new venture. There’s been five years between the last time a ferry has gone between Yarmouth and Portland, Maine, or Yarmouth and Bar Harbour, Maine. We have to build up the route equity. People, when they go on vacation, they have decided to go since there was no way of getting to Nova Scotia conveniently, they have gone other places. We have to rebuild that equity and that’s going to be done in time, it’s not going to be done in year one,” he said.
Amundsen said July has more than 11,000 bookings. He expects that number to go up as many people book two weeks before they sail.
“A ferry service is going to operate whether you have people there or not, so we need to get our numbers up to a much higher level than we are right now, even in July. That may take a few years to build,” he said.
Amundsen said he’s unsure whether the company will be going back to the province to ask for more money.
“We need to see what our numbers look like. As of right now, I think that we will be going back to ask the province. The numbers are just not there. This is going to take time to build up,” he said.
“I believe that the service that we’re offering is a first-class service and the people that have come aboard love it. Matter of fact, it is so convenient for the people of Boston that you can get out of work at 5 p.m. in the afternoon, drive to Portland, Maine, get on the vessel and be in Yarmouth,. N.S., at eight o’clock the next morning.”