BAR HARBOR, Maine — The arrival of the first large cruise ship in two-and-a-half years in Maine is another signal that tourism is getting closer to pre-pandemic normalcy.
Last year, more than 15.6 million visitors came to Maine, a third more than made the trip the year before, at the start of the pandemic, officials said.
But there were no large cruise ships until the arrival of the Norwegian Pearl in the waters of Bar Harbor. The ship dropped anchor in Frenchman Bay, and visitors were ferried to shore on tenders.
“It’s exciting to see these ships and their passengers coming back to Maine,” said Sarah Flink, executive director of CruiseMaine.
Cruise ships could restore some visitation. The number of visitors last year remained about a million below 2019, before the pandemic. Cruise ships made 409 port calls and brought 450,000 passengers in 2019.
One positive sign from the 2021 tourism numbers is that spending soared. Spending grew 63.7% from 2020 and 20.3% from 2019.