BAR HARBOR — If implemented, the Town Council’s initial stab at new cruise ship restrictions would result in an 87 percent cut in the 2022 schedule, according to the chairman of the Cruise Ship Committee.

The council recently sent guidelines for potential caps on the number of days per month that the town would accept cruise ships, as well as daily passenger limits, to the committee for review. Eben Salvatore, chairman of the committee, took those caps and applied them to the 2022 schedule and estimated they would cut about 237,000 of the 272,900 passengers expected to come next year.

“These numbers are a little devastating,” Amy Powers, a cruise ship consultant and member of the committee, said at a meeting last week.

None of the members of the committee felt that such a large reduction was a good idea.

“We all agree that we’re going to come up with an alternative solution to the problem to recommend to the council,” said Salvatore, who is the director of operations for the company that runs tendering services for cruise ships.

John Kelly, the Acadia National Park member of the committee, felt that the 87 percent drop may not play out, as some ships could move things around to fit within the caps.

The cap system that the council came up with has limits on the number of passengers per day and the number of days ships could anchor in town. Each of the caps is tailored to specific months from May to October.

Some members worried that if Bar Harbor restricts things too tightly, cruise ships would dock elsewhere and then bus their passengers to Bar Harbor and Acadia, creating more vehicle traffic.

“We have no legal authority to stop them coming in over land,” said Matthew Hochman, a member of the committee and council.

The Cruise Ship Committee plans to meet again next month and dive more fully into the numbers to come up with a recommendation for the council.

A survey found that 55 percent of Bar Harbor residents view cruise ships as having a negative overall impact, The Associated Press reported this summer. About the same percentage also said they detract from the community’s image.

Before the pandemic, Bar Harbor had roughly 170 cruise ship visits in 2019, with 270,000 cruise ship passengers funneled through the downtown waterfront, according to the AP. That’s an 800 percent increase from 1990.


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