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Nova Star cruise-ferry opens doors for people to tour the ship

PORTLAND (WGME) -- For more than three weeks, it's just been sitting there. The brand new cruise-ferry to Nova Scotia, docked in the Portland harbor, building curiosity and excitement. But on Saturday, the Nova Star opened its doors to the public, letting people aboard for a sneak peak and a tour of the ship.

What is it about those words "Brand New" that seem to attract a crowd? More than 1500 people got permission to come aboard to see what all the fuss is about. One visitor said "Oh, yeah. It's huge. It's huge." And Bill Stewart, from Saco, said "Bigger than what we thought it would be. And the amenities, too, it's incredible."

Lisa Arnold said she was amazed at the crowds of people. Arnold is one of the four partners who took a risk on this 528 foot ship. She told us "I think people are surprised with how large it is. I think it's that aha moment when they realize, 'Oh, it's a ferry and I can drive my car on. But I can also have a cruise experience.'"

The Second Officer gave us a tour of the bridge. Yegor Katunin told us this ship is so advanced, the controls feel more like playing a video game than piloting a ship. But he says "You still have to be the seaman. In case of something wrong, you have to take out your pirate inside. But everything is buttons and joy sticks."

Steve Durrell says everything on board is state of the art. He's Nova Star's chief operating officer who calls the ship much more than a ferry. Durrell says "We're looking for people to come on board and enjoy the experience, not just going from A to B, but to actually be able to come on and have a cruise ship experience for the day."

As for what there is to do on the 10 hour voyage, you name it. Casual and fine dining, live music, a casino, spa, salon and more on the fun deck. Meredith Quinn, from Boston, says "I've been on a couple of these overnight ferries in Europe. This one is much, much nicer. Everything is brand new. There's so many options of things to do."

This cruise-ferry seems to have something for everyone. Nova Star's guest experience coordinator says there's also plenty of fun for children, too. Jordan Killkelley told us "Frozen is one of the movies we'll be playing right off. And there's a little steering wheel for them to steer the boat. And there's a bunch of little games that they can play."

With 162 cabins, 254 recliners and a large crew, Nova Star hopes to make this cruise as comfortable as possible for the 1200 people on board. This Thursday, the Nova Star makes its maiden voyage to Nova Scotia. The cruise is already sold out. But we've got our tickets and we'll bring you live reports from the deck of the Nova Star.