BAR HARBOR, Maine — The town of Bar Harbor is surveying its residents to find out how people feel about cruise ship stops and if there are changes that need to be made.
Currently, Bar Harbor is not anticipating any cruise ships to make port this year but the town is looking to make some possible changes for when the ships do return.
Bar Harbor Town Councilor Gary Friedman said cruise ship visitation generated a million dollars a year before the pandemic. He said even though that money benefits all town residents, there are many residents who are not fans of them.
The council believes the survey, once returned, will provide them the information they need to help the town council eventually draft a local referendum question about cruise ship guidelines.
"I’m very interested to hear what a majority of our residents think and also to hear what the businesses think," Friedman said. "Some believe that all businesses love cruise ships but that’s just not true. Many of them don’t benefit and even feel that their businesses or hurt by the impacts of cruise visitation."
Friedman said they are seeing a large response to the survey so far and he believes at least preliminarily most people want to see some kind of limits to cruise ship visitation.
"It could be limiting the number of days a week that cruise ships are allowed, it could be limiting the number of ships per season, it could be limiting the number of passengers in town on a given day—but, it’s gotten overwhelming where it’s impacting our quality of life here as well as the businesses that cater to overnight guests," Friedman said.
Currently, Bar Harbor allows 3,500 passengers in July and August and 5,500 for the rest of the year.
Despite a difficult summer tourism season last year, Friedman said they are not expecting any cruise ship travel to Bar Harbor this season.