For the first time in over two years a cruise ship returns to Bar Harbor

Published: Apr. 14, 2022 at 5:19 PM EDT
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BAR HARBOR, Maine (WABI) - A cruise ship anchored off of Bar Harbor Thursday or the first time in nearly two and a half years.

It’s the first of six that will tender passengers to Bar Harbor in April, as the ships return after a pandemic driven hiatus.

The debate about cruise ships and their impact on Bar Harbor hasn’t changed, but as passengers from the Norwegian Pearl came streaming into town on a dreary midweek day in April, proponents of having the ships here pointed out what has.

“Today, what you’ll notice is that a lot of places are open that weren’t open yesterday. One of our goals years ago was to try to build our shoulder seasons, said Bar Harbor Cruise Ship Committee Chair Eben Salvatore. “And I think the ships have become an important part of that.”

Bar Harbor’s cruise ship committee has also changed where ships will anchor, mostly hidden behind Bar Island in Frenchman’s Bay, no longer to be seen in the harbor off of Agamont Park. There are also plans in place for the fall when cruise ship season kicks into high gear.

“We’ve drastically reduced the amount of time that buses will queue in those parking spaces,” Salvatore said. “And our goal is by noon to have the bulk of the people that are going on a motor coach in their bus and on their way.”

Those against cruise ships anchoring here cite pollution and overcrowding, and a general lack of need, saying Bar Harbor is busy enough already. But many here simply want a balance.

“I’m not pro, I’m not con,” said Scott Stevens, co-owner of Evergreen Pottery & Queen Anne’s Flower Shop in Bar Harbor. “I get it that people make money from the cruise ship. There are definitely businesses that have come and followed the cruise ship industry. But it’s just kind of a crush. And I have a lot of people that have left town because they don’t want to come in when the cruise ships are here. So they’ll stay out of town and then they’ll come in if they’re here for the week. They’ll come in and shop on the days that cruise ships aren’t here.”

“The balance has always been the number one goal because there’s pros and cons to everything when you’re trying to achieve those goals,” added Salvatore. “You also do need to be cautious of everybody in this community because not everybody owns a business. Not everybody needs to make their living. Some of them already have, some of them don’t see the direct benefit. To achieve that middle ground is what a lot of people spend a lot of time trying to do.”

The Norwegian Pearl will return both next Thursday and the Thursday after.

Three smaller ships of less than 250 passengers are slated to anchor off Bar Harbor by the end of the month.

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