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Northumberland Ferries Ltd. begins season with one boat, as usual

The MV Confederation, flagship of the Northumberland Ferries operation between Wood Islands, P.E.I. and Caribou, Nova Scotia
The MV Confederation, flagship of the Northumberland Ferries operation between Wood Islands, P.E.I. and Caribou, Nova Scotia

WOOD ISLANDS, P.E.I. – One Belfast businessman expects smoother sailing this year when it comes to ferry service between P.E.I. and Nova Scotia.

Northumberland Ferries Ltd. has returned to a two-ferry service after operating last year as a single-vessel operation.

The ferry service began its 2017 season on Monday.

“Hopefully, they can keep then (both) sailing for the season,’’ said Keir White, general manager of the Belfast Community Development Corporation. “It is a gateway to the province and they’re expecting even larger tourism numbers this year. It is good news that they’re both (running).’’

White, who also runs the golf course and campground at Lord Selkirk Park in Eldon, said the one-ferry service last year took a bite out of business.

“We were down approximately 550 nights from the year previous to off-Island visitors. For us, we sort of rely on that service. We’re a campground located just off the Trans-Canada Highway so as people come off the boat and head to Charlottetown we’re one of the only spots to lay your head.

“If you go the Confederation Bridge route not too often are (people) going to drive down here and decided to stay the night.’’

Don Cormier, vice-president of operations for Northumberland Ferries Ltd., said things have returned to normal.

“It wasn’t our traditionally reliable service,’’ Cormier said of last year. “The crews and officers did a fantastic job with the one asset that we had. We know it had a negative impact on some people and for that we certainly express regret.

“It was a challenging year but a challenge that many people contributed into make a good experience.’’

Until June 17, there will be five departures from Wood Islands each day – 6:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

At the moment, only the MV Confederation is needed for the light traffic. The MV Holiday Island should see some service when NFL ramps up to seven departures per day and will become part of the regular service when peak season begins around June 29.

White is looking forward to the 2017 season.

“I’m optimistic that things will run smooth this year, and with the big year (Canada 150 celebrations) it is hopefully there will be a big increase in traffic with both boats running,’’ White said.

Still, despite the fact a new five-year agreement was signed to keep the service running White was hoping for more.

“Little disappointing to see no traction on a new boat; we still have old vessels,’’ White said, referring to the MV Holiday Island, which was built in 1971, and the MV Confederation, which entered service in 1993.

dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart

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