Bar Harbor, a seaside town on Mount Desert Island off the coast of Maine, sees a lot of cruise ship traffic. In 2019, the last year cruise travel was at its normal levels, 157 cruise ships visited the little town. Those ships funneled more than a quarter of a million passengers through the streets of a town whose total population is fewer than the visitor count of a single ship. 2022 is on track to have even higher numbers.
Last year, the town conducted a survey. More than half of those who responded said they dislike what cruise ships have done to their quiet resort town. They object to the congested foot traffic and to the businesses that have arisen to cater to the cruise ship market, businesses of little to no use to the locals.
After years of discussion on what to do with the matter, the Bar Harbor town council approved a measure in September which would cap the numbers of ships and tourists. That matter went to the ballot, and on Tuesday it was approved by popular vote among the townmembers. And by a wide margin.
“We have had a clear message from the public that they want cruise ships decreased,” Bar Harbor town council member Erin Cough said back in September. “We’ve been asked by our community to do something, and this is our best effort at doing something that is reasonable.”
The new cap, which has been amended into Bar Harbor’s municipal code, bans cruise ships in April and November, the months that bookend tourist season. It also limits the amount of people cruise ships are allowed to offload, including crew, to only 1000 a day.
These regulations would make it difficult or impossible for many of the larger ships to call in at Bar Harbor, which for many voters is an ideal solution.
There has been no recent reporting on what percentage of the Bar Harbor economy is based on tourist dollars.