Wet weather prompts cruise ships to skip MDI

By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff
Posted Sept. 30, 2008, at 10:12 p.m.

BAR HARBOR, Maine — The wet weather over the weekend and concern over the possible effects of Hurricane Kyle resulted in three cruise ships canceling their appearances here on Sunday and Monday, according to a local official.

But if the weather remains relatively decent for the next month, the town still hopes to have a total of more than 100 cruise ship visits this season, harbor master Charlie Phippen said Tuesday.

Hurricane Kyle was headed toward Maine at one point last week with 80 mph winds but veered farther east, striking Nova Scotia with less force than people had feared. Though there was heavy rainfall in many parts of Maine, the hurricane had little effect on the state — with the possible exception of the canceled cruise ship visits.

A few cruise ships cancel visits to Bar Harbor every year for reasons as varied as scheduling complications and heavy fog. Phippen said the 1,266-passenger Maasdam and the American Star, a 100-passenger-capacity vessel based out of Bangor, canceled their scheduled visits on Sunday because of concerns about the weather. The 670-passenger Royal Princess canceled its visit on Monday, he said, because of weather concerns and scheduling difficulties.

The Queen Mary 2, which visited Bar Harbor on July 5, had been scheduled to stop in Portland today but canceled the planned visit after the hurricane forced the 2,620-passenger ship to alter its schedule.

According to a 2005 University of Maine study about the economic impact of cruise ships on Bar Harbor, passengers averages slightly more than $100 each in local spending when their ship is in port. That means that local businesses could have missed out on more than $200,000 being spent in the Mount Desert Island economy by the cancellation of the ship visits.

Nobody benefits from cancellations, Phippen said. Bar Harbor shops and services miss out on the added business, and the cruise ships miss out on having their passengers visit one of Maine’s top scenic tourist destinations.

“Everybody loses,” Phippen said.

Nonetheless, Bar Harbor is on schedule to host more than 100 cruise visits and possibly more than 150,000 cruise ship passengers in 2008, which would be an all-time high. Based on the University of Maine estimate, that would mean the Bar Harbor area is on track to benefit from more than $15 million in local cruise ship passenger spending in 2008.

With the cancellations, the town itself missed out on the fees it would have collected for each ship’s visit, but the amount is relatively minor, according to Phippen. Bar Harbor would have collected $4,400 with the visits that were canceled, but the town still hopes to collect more than $160,000 in cruise ship fees this year. Bar Harbor expects 27 cruise ship visits in the next month.

“It’s not anything to get wound up about,” he said of the recent cancellations.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

http://bangordailynews.com/2008/09/30/news/hancock/wet-weather-prompts-cruise-ships-to-skip-mdi/ printed on November 27, 2014