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HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (NEWS CENTER) -- Mainers are expected to once again have an ocean link to Canada, starting in Maine. The government of Nova Scotia today announced it has signed an agreement with STM Quest, of Eliot, Maine, to operate a new daily ferry service between Portland and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

The last ferry on that route was The Cat, which ended its run in 2009. Before that was the Scotia Prince. Both dramatically reduced the travel time from Portland to Yarmouth to hours instead of days.

The new ship is brand new, over 500 feet long and built in Singapore. She will be called the Nova Star. The STM Quest's chief operating officer told a telephone press conference on Tuesday that the ship will be modified to have a casino, theater and more comfortable passenger seating, prior to sailing to the Gulf of Maine in April.

The previous ferries docked at Portland's old International marine terminal, until The Cat began using the new Ocean Gateway in its final year. STM Quest's president says the Nova Star will dock at the Ocean Gateway. The company says it will work with the City of Portland and the Maine DOT to get everything ready in time for service to begin May 1.

However, a spokesman for the Maine DOT said there are many details to be worked out before then, including arrangements with U.S. Customs and the Border Patrol. The City of Portland had no comment on the signing of the agreement.

Its another story in Canada, where officials of the recently-elected provincial government say restoring ferry service was a top priority. Ferry service to Maine is so vital to the province that the government is providing STM Quest with a $21 million(CDN) operating subsidy over the seven years of the contract. Maine is not providing any subsidy.

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