Bar Harbor (Maine)

Cruise Port schedule, live map, terminals, news

Rating:
Bar Harbor cruise port

Region
East Coast USA and Canada New England

Local Time
2021-11-28 03:34

min: 22 °F (-6 °C) / max: 35 °F (2 °C) 26°F
-3.4°C
Wind: 260°/ 4.5 m/s  Gust: 10.7 m/sWind: 260°/ 4.5 m/s  Gust: 10.7 m/sGentle breeze
4.5 m/s
Min / Max Temperature35 °F / 2 °C
22 °F / -5 °C
  Port Map

Bar Harbor is a port town on Mount Desert Island (Hancock County, Maine USA), with a population of around 5,000. It is a very popular tourist destination in Maine's Down East region. The small town is nationwide famous with its MDI Biological Laboratory (1898-founded independent nonprofit biomedical research facility), The Jackson Laboratory (JAX - large research facility specializing in mammalian genetics, nonprofit with over 2100 employees), College of the Atlantic (COA - private liberal-arts college).

Port Bar Harbor (Maine) cruise port

However, Bar Harbor is best-known for Acadia National Park/NP, which includes ~1/2 of Mount Desert Island (Cadillac Mountain) plus adjacent smaller isles. The town is served by Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport (in Trenton ME), located approx 15 km (9 mi) northwest of downtown Bar Harbor. The county-owned airport serves regularly scheduled domestic flights (carriers Elite Airways, Peninsula Airways, Cape Air, PenAir) connecting to Boston MA, Newark NJ, and Vero Beach FL. Regularly scheduled ferries connect to Canada (Yarmouth Nova Scotia), with crossing time 3,5 hours.

In close proximity to downtown, Acadia NP offers numerous outdoor activities, such as hiking, trekking, biking, mountain climbing, bird watching. Tourists interested in the island's marine life can visit the yacht marina (at the end of Main Street) and sign up for boat tours for wildlife viewing (puffins, whales, seals, lobster, pelagic seabirds) or harbor cruises.

In 2016, the port handled 105 cruise ship calls and around 169,000 passengers. During season 2016, cruise tourists spent at Bar Harbor around USD 15 million, with total economic impact USD 20,2M (based on a University of Maine study). To these figures must be added passenger fees (USD 0,7M) paid to the city. Also additional is spending by crew and cruise companies themselves. The study team handed out surveys to cruise passengers arriving at Harbor Place or Harborside Dock. Tourists returned 2231 surveys by mail (47% response rate). According to the study, 138,285 passengers disembarked in the cruise port in 2016. This was 87% of vessels' combined passenger capacity (163,000 pax). Note: passenger fees are based on the ship's capacity. The study also showed that in 2016, around 2 million tourists visited Bar Harbor and Acadia NP, of which cruisers were around 10%.

During season 2017, the cruise port handled a total of 171 ship calls (40% increase over 2016) and over 225,000 passengers.

On November 17, 2020, Bar Harbor Town Council discussed the popular policy (for smaller seaports in the USA) to limit the annual number of cruise ships due to the ongoing concerns over the Coronavirus crisis. Before the cruise shipping industry's pause (since mid-March 2020), the port expected nearly 200 cruise ship calls and 300,000+ passengers. However, the entire 2020 season was eventually canceled. By mid-November 2020, Bar Harbor ME had booked 150+ cruise ship dockings (scheduled port calls) for season 2021.

It is estimated that cruise tourists contribute USD 20+ million annually to Maine State's economy.

 

Bar Harbor cruise terminal

Bar Harbor ME is a tender cruise port, which means cruise liners anchor in Frenchman Bay and their passengers are transported to the pier via the ship's tender boats.

Port Bar Harbor (Maine) cruise terminal

After the ship drops anchor, cruise passengers are ferried back and forth to one of the port's 2 piers/docks in downtown (at 121 Eden Street). From there, they can connect (with trolleys and buses) to local attractions, including Acadia National Park.

(NEW) Bar Harbor cruise terminal "Marine Atlantic"

As tendering passengers increase cruise companies' costs, there is a plan for the conversion of the old ferry terminal (on Eden Street) to a combined ferry-cruise terminal facility.

The town voted on June 13, 2017 (Article 12) to re-zone the old ferry terminal. Following the vote (945 to 658), the town purchased the state-owned Marine Atlantic property (former ferry terminal) from the Maine Department of Transportation. This facility served two Bay Ferries ships (The Cat, The Bluenose) connecting Bar Harbor with Nova Scotia Canada (Yarmouth).

  • In February 2019 was signed a 5-year lease deal (thru 2024) with annual rent CAD 264,000.
  • By the lease agreement, Bay Ferries started a major terminal renovation project that includes demolition and rebuilding of Customs Plaza, as well as a renovation of outbuildings and portions of the terminal building's interior.
  • Customs Plaza's renovation also includes installing new equipment (required by US Customs and Border Protection), repairs to the existing docking pier, installing a new fixed bridge section (adjacent to the pier), transfer of the floating ferry ramp from Portland to Bar Harbor.
  • Nova Scotia contributed to the cost of the ferry terminal's border services. Since the Maine-Nova Scotia ferry service was resumed (2015-2018), the NS government spent CAD 32 million in subsidies.

Article 12's zoning change allows cruise (and other) vessels to dock at the ferry terminal. Several lawsuits (filed by locals) were against this port development project. As of 2019, Ferry Terminal Visioning Committee has approved the state-owned property to be used as a multi-use terminal. The current deal includes a 5-year lease for the CAT ferry providing daily connections Bar Harbor-Yarmouth. Other terminal uses could include a possible yacht marina, boat storage, overflow parking (for tourists), cruise ship tendering.

The town has a webpage dedicated to materials developed by consultants and the local committee process. More information can be found at barharbormaine.gov/393/Ferry-Terminal. Anyone interested in this issue could follow port developments on the website.

In early-July 2020, due to the progressing in the USA Coronavirus/COVID pandemic, Bar Harbor decided to close its seaports to cruise ships for the remainder of 2020. On July 7, town councilors voted to ban cruise ships after ACL-American Cruise Lines announced its plan to resume coastal voyages with some itineraries visiting several Maine coast towns.

In early-August 2021, the Town Council voted unanimously for the 65-year-old ferry terminal to be demolished, once there's money and a plan to replace it with a new facility. Most of the existing infrastructure (including the pier) will be demolished, to fulfill the contract with Bay Ferries. The decision was made following a workshop with the Harbor Committee in July, during which was also suggested building a new Marina (yacht-serving port facility).

  • In late-July, the Canadian company announced plans to restart its fast-catamaran service (THE CAT ship) linking with Canada (Yarmouth).
  • The 1956-built old ferry terminal was originally designed to serve the Canadian ferryboat MV Bluenose (1977-built/1982-scrapped), so the current layout is obsolete. 
  • The current terminal consists of 2 causeways, 2 piers/docks (north and south), 2 vehicle bridges (between both piers), and a dilapidated building.
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