More than half of the Bar Harbor poll respondents say cruise lines harm the city

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While Bar Harbor officials are trying to determine how much cruise ship traffic is appropriate in their quaint tourist town, they have released the results of a community survey that shows that most respondents believe local cruise ship visitor numbers are having a negative impact on the population City have.

Of the nearly 1,400 responses, 55 percent said cruise lines had an overall negative impact on the city. The same percentage said cruise lines overall degrade the image and appeal of Bar Harbor, a major Maine tourist destination that serves as the main gateway to Acadia National Park.

A slightly smaller percentage, 53 percent, said that cruise lines had an overall negative impact on the quality of life in the city. On the flip side of these questions, 35 percent said cruise lines had an overall positive impact on Bar Harbor, 27 percent said cruise lines had a positive impact on the city’s image, and 26 percent said the ships had a positive impact the city have quality of life city.

The question of how many cruise lines and cruise passengers are too many has become a central debate in Bar Harbor in recent years as the number has continued to grow and the city has had to try to find ways to cope with the crowds who funnel their way through the picturesque city center on the waterfront on cruise ship days.

The city has only 5,611 residents, according to the survey, and attracts millions of visitors each year, the vast majority in summer and early fall. The number of cruise passengers arriving in Bar Harbor between May and early November each year has been around 250,000 recently, often with a few thousand at a time, taking bus tours of Acadia or strolling the downtown streets.

Overcrowding and traffic jams, from both pedestrian and touring buses, were cited as major concerns of cruise ship visits, while lack of parking and car congestion were among the major negative effects of tourists traveling to Bar Harbor by vehicle. However, around 45 percent of respondents said the economic impact of cruise tourism is important to the city.

However, the past year and summer 2021 have been very different so far as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic brought cruise ship traffic to a standstill. No cruise lines at all visited Bar Harbor in 2020, although Acadia recorded an estimated 2.6 million visits for the year, and only small cruise lines with no Canadian ports are expected on their itineraries this year.

Because the large ships visiting Bar Harbor usually visit Canada – a result of the federal Jones Act that allows foreign flag cruise lines to have an overseas visit on their itineraries – and because Canada banned cruise ship visits during the pandemic, Bar Harbor Major ship visits are not expected to take place before 2022.

With no cruise ship visits last year, the city lost $ 1.4 million in dock fees, city officials said.

The American flag Independence with a maximum capacity of 100 passengers is the only cruise ship expected to call at Bar Harbor this summer. Eight stops are planned between August 8th and September 26th.

Almost half of the respondents stated that the absence of cruise ships in 2020 “had a purely positive effect on them,” according to the survey results. Another 25 percent said the effects of the absence of ships were mixed or neutral, while 13 percent rated this absence as negative. Another 13 percent did not answer this question.

The survey was conducted by Portland-based Pan Atlantic Research and was made available to local residents, property owners, and business owners. Around two thirds of the respondents sent their answers to the survey by post, one third answered the survey online.

Members of Bar Harbor City Council are expected to discuss the poll results at their regular 7pm Tuesday meeting.

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