Government of Canada and Marine Atlantic Inc. dedicate second of two new ferries

SYDNEY, NS, Nov. 24, 2011 /CNW/ - The Honourable Steven Fletcher, Minister of State (Transport), Wayne Follett, President and Chief Executive Officer of Marine Atlantic (MAI), and Colonel (Retired) Ian Macintyre, Honorary Colonel of the Nova Scotia Highlanders and the Cape Breton Highlanders, today officially welcomed and dedicated the MV Highlanders, the namesake vessel honouring the Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Highland Regiments.  The vessel, in tandem with her sister ship the MV Blue Puttees,  has significantly improved Marine Atlantic's ability to provide on-time, reliable service and meet increasing traffic demand between North Sydney, Nova Scotia and Port aux Basques, Newfoundland and Labrador.

"Our government recognizes the importance of the ferry connection between Newfoundland and Labrador and the mainland as a transportation link for goods and travellers which is why we have invested significantly in the revitalization of Marine Atlantic," said Minister Fletcher.  "These new vessels have substantially improved Marine Atlantic's ability to provide on-time, reliable service to meet the needs of the people and businesses of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador."

"The addition of the MV Highlanders and MV Blue Puttees to our fleet has helped to significantly improve Marine Atlantic's service," said Mr. Follett. "We just completed one of the most successful summer seasons in recent history and our customers have told us that they are pleased with the improvements that have taken place to all aspects of our service. Through the Government of Canada's continued co-operation and support, our Corporation will make additional improvements to our infrastructure and business processes. Our employees and customers are embracing this positive change and we look forward to the many opportunities that will be presented in the months ahead."

"It is with great pride that we are here today to participate in the dedication of the MV Highlanders and to thank Marine Atlantic, on behalf of this province's two Highland Regiments, for such a noble gesture, particularly as we are celebrating our 140th year of service to Canada. Tapah leibh/Thank you," said Colonel (Retired) Ian Macintyre, Honourary Colonel of the the Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Highlanders.

Acquiring these new vessels was made possible by the Government of Canada's recent five-year, $521 million investment to revitalize Marine Atlantic and renew its fleet and shore facilities at North Sydney, Nova Scotia, and Port aux Basques and Argentia, Newfoundland and Labrador.  This initiative builds on the Government of Canada's strategy, announced in February 2007, to revitalize Marine Atlantic's ferry services.

Marine Atlantic Inc., is a federal Crown corporation that provides a vital ferry link between Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia supporting the economies of the Atlantic Provinces, facilitating the import and export of goods, and helping grow the region's tourism sector.

Backgrounder

Wording of the Highlanders Plaque

The following is the wording of the plaque to be placed on board the MV Highlanders in honour of the Highland Regiments of Nova Scotia:

This vessel is proudly named after the strong history of military service of the Highland regiments throughout Nova Scotia.

The origins of the Highlanders has been traced back to 1871 and their strength is rooted in the citizens of Nova Scotia, from all regions, who joined as regiments were established throughout the province. Through their storied history, the Highland regiments have been awarded 56 Battle Honours as a result of their service in the South African War, World War I and World War II.

In 1955, the three Highland regiments of Nova Scotia were amalgamated into a two-battalion regiment known as The Nova Scotia Highlanders. The regiment was made up of the 1st Battalion, The Nova Scotia Highlanders (North) and the 2nd Battalion, The Nova Scotia Highlanders (Cape Breton). In 2011, the 2nd Battalion was renamed The Cape Breton Highlanders. The men and women of these two Highland units continue to provide humanitarian assistance, peacekeeping services and peace support operations that are recognized throughout the world.

Backgrounder

MV Highlanders Facts and Figures

  • 96 cabins, double what was previously available.
  • Approximately 500 reclining chairs providing customers with comfortable options to relax during their travel.
  • 50 per cent more vehicle capacity than the vessels replaced.
  • Designed to efficiently carry both passenger and commercial vehicles with its high deck heads and wide open decks that make loading and unloading easier.
  • Open air sections of the deck where restricted cargo and larger loads can be stored.
  • Three areas for passenger dining provide a range of options. Passengers can avail of quick service meals such as hot dogs and sandwiches or full course meals.
  • Various areas on-board provide entertainment options for children, teens and adults. There is also Internet access, gift shops and games for passengers to enjoy.
  • Televisions in cabins and seating areas allow passengers to select a variety of entertainment options.
  • Elevators to each deck and many amenities to assist persons with disabilities.
  • Animal kennels that allow passengers to put their pets in climatically controlled conditions. Passengers have access to their pets in the kennel.
  • New way-finding signage that is colour-coded and guides passengers to amenities, entertainment options, car decks, cabins and other facilities.
  • Open access decks that permit passengers to go outside and enjoy panoramic views and fresh air during crossings.

Backgrounder

Summer Season Improvements

The following information highlights some of Marine Atlantic's improvements since the introduction of the new fleet:

  • Significant improvement in on-time performance; from 59 per cent in 2010 to 91 per cent in 2011.
  • Ease of access to a reservation; available up to the time of departure on 99 per cent of sailings.
  • Overall satisfaction is up, with 74 per cent of customers highly satisfied compared with 51 per cent in 2010.
  • The expectations of 92 per cent of passengers were either met or exceeded.
  • Approximately 93 per cent of customers are likely to recommend Marine Atlantic to friends or family.
  • Wait times for commercial customers were significantly better; reduced by 63 per cent.
  • Additional cabins were in high demand, with 25 per cent more sold than in 2010.
  • Employees rose to the challenge to deliver a high level of customer service and adapt to the new vessels.

SOURCE Marine Atlantic Inc.

For further information:

Media Contact:
Tara Laing
Communications Manager
Tel: 709-772-8974
Email: tlaing@marine-atlantic.ca

Brayden Akers
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of State (Transport)
(613) 991-0700


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