Bar Harbor, Maine, Votes to Limit Cruise Ship Visits

Bar Harbor, Maine, Votes to Limit Cruise Ship Visits

Bar Harbor, a classic, picturesque Maine town that draws a great deal of tourists, is putting a moratorium on the number of visitors who arrive by cruise ships.

Earlier this week, the Town Council voted to limit the number cruise ship traffic that arrives at the quintessential New England destination, according to the Bangor Daily News, Maine’s largest newspaper.


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The restrictions put in place by the town council came in response to resident complaints that cruise ships carried too many passengers who then disembarked to sightsee in the town and created situations of congestion and overcrowding.

This was especially true the months of September and October. While that might seem an odd time as the weather cools off, it’s the best time for fall foliage in New England and results in a plethora of tourists.

The town will apparently work with various cruise lines that use Bar Harbor as a port of call to begin implementing the passenger restrictions. According to the newspaper, daily passenger visits will be capped at 3,800 passengers in the months of May, June, September, and October, and 3,500 in July and August. Monthly caps will be set at 30,000 in May and June, 40,000 in July and August, and 65,000 for the fall foliage months of September and October.

Whether this flies legally remains to be seen. Key West, Fla., tried a similar approach when residents were fed up with the number of cruise ship passengers descending on the town and their restrictions passed a local vote – until the state stepped in and rescinded the local ruling.

Bar Harbor officials say they have the cooperation of the cruise lines.

“We talked about much more drastic reductions that I think would have certainly been more significant,” said Matthew Hochman, a town council member. “But I think they would have been more difficult to get the industry to agree to, and we need buy-in from the industry.”

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