Nova Scotia

90 minutes in Yarmouth? Here's what you can do

With news that a new coupon will only give some Nova Star ferry passengers a total of 90 minutes in Nova Scotia, a Yarmouth town councillor is sharing his top tips for visitors.

Nova Star coupon limits passengers' Nova Scotia visit to roughly 90 minutes

The Nova Scotia government has provided $28.5 million to Nova Star Cruises since its inception. The ferry has been touted as a way to attract American tourists, with the hope they'll explore the province and invest in local economies. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

What can you do in 90 minutes?

Watch a short movie? Maybe give a room or two a good clean?

Or perhaps tour Yarmouth.

A Yarmouth town councillor is sharing his top tips for visitors after the company operating the Nova Star ferry revealed a new Groupon coupon to recruit more customers to take the trip between Yarmouth and Maine gives passengers roughly an hour and a half in the town.

The Groupon deal offers a 30 to 60 per cent reduction on the regular fare for the over 20 hour round trip, but the boat will only stop in Nova Scotia between 8:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. 

That window of time includes the 30 to 45 minutes the company estimates it takes for a tourist, however eager, to clear Canadian customs.

This year, the ferry company is expanding its marketing strategy to include a Groupon campaign. The online coupon service will offer a 30 to 60 per cent discounts off regular fares. (www.groupon.com/deals/ga-bk-nova-star-cruises)

Ken Langille praised the idea.

"I think it's kind of neat," he told CBC's Mainstreet, adding that Yarmouth is well-situated for a quick visit because the attractions are so close to the ferry terminal.

All it takes is five minutes to get downtown

"The reality is, within five minutes you're in the heart of the town," he said. "You can walk the whole town in half an hour. It's not a big town."

From the ferry terminal, visitors can head straight down Water Street, where they could see some antique shops, a craft shop, and the Sweeney Fisheries Museum. 

Another option later in the season, he says, would be a local transit route that hits all the main stops a visitor might want to see.

"You could actually get on that transit bus, do an entire tour of the town in half an hour and be safely back at the terminal in time to catch your boat back."

Yarmouth has never, ever, ever grasped the tourist phenomenon.- Ken Langille

Another route that might provide 90 minutes' worth of entertainment, he says, is going up to Main Street, to visit the popular Old World Bakery and Deli, craft shops, and Toots Confectionery. If visitors continue on that route, they will eventually hit the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

Hoping for new opening times

Both the Sweeney Fisheries Museum and the Art Gallery normally open at 10 a.m., but Langille encourages all businesses and attractions to open in time for the potential visitors who will be getting off of the ferry.

"Yarmouth has never, ever, ever grasped the tourist phenomenon and it really bothers me."

He says that the town needs to look to places in Maine like Bar Harbor, which he used to visit frequently.

"Holy mackerel, that place was open at six in the morning."

Langille would like to see the town recognize that it is the first glimpse of Nova Scotia tourists disembarking the ferry see, regardless of how long they're staying.

"I mean, it would be a shame if this boat lands and there was nothing open other than Old World Bakery and a few remote shops." 

Langille has written to Nova Star suggesting the company offer the same deal for people who want to travel from Yarmouth to Maine and back.

The Nova Scotia government has provided $28.5 million to Nova Star Cruises since its inception. The ferry has been touted as a way to attract American tourists, with the hope they'll explore the province and invest in local economies.

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