Two Weeks in Nova Scotia - Page 1: Preliminaries

Laurie and I had been waiting several years to take a trip to Nova Scotia by ferry.  Of course, we could have driven back and forth.  But I didn't want to do that. It's about 14 hours each way.  So when, after a four year break in service, a new ship, the Nova Star, began operations in May, we booked a one-way trip.  (We were happy to drive home after our two weeks were up... We just wanted to avoid driving both ways.)

It's about an 10 hour "voyage", at 21 knots speed. The Portland, Maine departure time is 9pm and the Yarmouth arrival time is 8am (after moving your watch one hour ahead to NDT).  The ferry then picks up passengers for its 10 hour return trip to Portland.  Because ours was an overnight trip, we also booked a cabin.  It wasn't cheap.  Fare for two passengers, a car, and a cabin was $500.


1) Passport

Not so long ago you could get in and out of Canada without a passport. Times have changed.

2) Cash

The exchange rate was $500US = $546Canadian.  I purchased $546 from my local bank, and had about $150 when I returned home.  That's because we charged nearly everything on VISA.

3) Lodging

Since 2007 we've had AAA make all our lodging reservations.  They've been great, and its all part of the benefits you get as a AAA member.  We use their maps, guide books, and brochures, and we pick up more detailed guide books at a local Barnes and Noble (we like the "Moon" books) to help us plan our route,  We then give our list of planned nightly stops to Pat at AAA and in just a few hours she's made all our reservations. Sometimes she gets discounts for us that we would not have otherwise received.  She's even canceled and made new reservations for us, while we're on the road.

4) Credit Cards

Be sure to contact your credit card company.  We found that one card charged 0% for foreign transactions, another card charged 3% and a third card charged 6%. Guess which one we used?

Another reason to contact your credit card companies is to let them know you will be making purchases in Canada.  That way they won't confuse your purchases with fraudulent activity.

Everyone in Canada uses these gizmos (image below) to process credit cards; whether it be a gift shop, gas station, grocery store, bed and breakfast, or restaurant.  Your credit card never leaves your hand.

Here's an example: (1) at a restaurant the machine (a remote version) is brought to your table, (2) the wait person punches in the total amount for the meal and taxes only, (3) you slide your card,  (4) you click "approve", (5) you punch in the tip , and (6) the machine prints out a paper slip for you to sign and a copy for you to keep.

5) Get this wonderful map

The map shown in a couple of the pictures above is the standard road map with the AAA logo on it.  It's definitely good to have, but the one shown below is big with lots of sightseeing details. I am not sure who puts this map out, but my guess is that it is produced by some sort of "Department of Tourism" for Nova Scotia.  We picked up our first copy at our local AAA, but we saw copies available at all the Nova Scotia information centers.