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Bar Harbor says yes to a cruise dock

Currently all but the smallest ships have to anchor and tender passengers ashore at Bar Harbor Currently all but the smallest ships have to anchor and tender passengers ashore at Bar Harbor (Photo: Anne Kalosh)

Citizens of Maine's leading cruise port—Bar Harbor—have voted for a zoning change that paves the way for a former international ferry terminal to be rebuilt as a cruise dock.

'We're very pleased with the results. It'll get us to the next step,' Bar Harbor town manager Cornell Knight told Seatrade Cruise News Tuesday night in Montréal, where he's attending the Cruise Canada/New England Symposium.

The vote for the town council-proposed initiative was 945 to 658.

Citizens also rejected a measure that would limit the size of ships coming alongside to 300 feet and give voters—instead of the town council—the right to decide Bar Harbor's daily passenger cap.

That proposal, put on the ballot by a citizens' petition, lost by a vote of 948 to 679.

The results mean the town of Bar Harbor can proceed to acquire the former ferry terminal pier from the Maine Department of Transportation.

Currently, all but the smallest ships anchor and tender passengers to a landing in the center of town. The town council had endorsed a docking facility on the outskirts of Bar Harbor to improve safety, alleviate the environmental impact of ships idling at anchor and reduce congestion downtown.

Tours could be dispatched from the terminal. A shuttle could transport cruisers the short distance between the new dock and downtown.

'It's definitely a positive for the cruise industry,' said Capt. Thomas Hinderhofer, director, Northeast port operations and Cape Liberty Cruise Port, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. 'It's something that's going to bring more vibrance to the area and more accessibility.'

Hinderhofer had traveled to Bar Harbor in the spring to provide information about the cruise business and answer questions at a community meeting.

'Bar Harbor is a very important destination. It's terrific news. The town sees the benefits outweigh the negativity,' said Capt. Dirk Van Der Raadt, senior manager, deployment and itinerary planning, Holland America Line.

According to Amy Powers, director of CruiseMaineUSA, Bar Harbor's decision is 'a way for the community and the industry to work together to achieve sustainable visitation.'

A recent study by the University of Maine's School of Economics estimated cruise passenger spending in Bar Harbor had a $20.2m economic impact in 2016.

Since 2010, passenger numbers have been capped at 5,500 a day in spring and fall, and at 3,500 in July and August. Leading up to the vote, town council chairman Paul Paradis told the Bangor Daily News those numbers won't change even if the cruise dock development goes ahead.

That facility has been idle since 2009, and the town has been looking at options for some type of maritime use ever since. Several years ago, Bermello Ajamil & Partners assessed different options, including resuming ferry options, and concluded the best revenue potential for Bar Harbor would be developing the site into a cruise dock.

Posted 13 June 2017

© Copyright 2017 Seatrade UBM (UK) Ltd. Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Seatrade UBM (UK) Ltd.

Anne Kalosh

US editor of Seatrade Cruise Review and Seatrade Cruise News

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