BAR HARBOR, Maine — Sometime on Saturday morning, after the 960-foot-long Costa Atlantica drops anchor in Frenchman Bay, the first of nearly 175,000 cruise ship passengers scheduled to visit Bar Harbor this season is expected to set foot on the local waterfront.
That’s the number of passengers that 24 different ships, which range from less than 200 feet long to more than 1,000 feet, are expected to bring to Bar Harbor in 2010, not including cruise ship crew members. All told, 118 cruise ship visits are scheduled for Bar Harbor this year, the most that have ever been scheduled for this Mount Desert Island town in any calendar year.
In 2009, 97 such visits were scheduled in Bar Harbor, but due to inclement weather, only 92 cruise ships arrived. The year before that, Bar Harbor had 97 cruise ship visits out of 108 that were scheduled.
According to CruiseMaine, a tourism marketing organization, Maine ports are expected to get 331 total cruise ship visits and more than 267,000 passengers this summer. Those figures represent increases of 50 more cruise ship visits and more than 35,000 passengers from 2009 statewide totals.
After Bar Harbor, Portland is the second-busiest cruise ship port in the state with 68 visits and more than 75,000 passengers expected this summer for Maine’s largest city. Smaller cruise ships that can carry up to a couple hundred passengers each are expected to make stops in Bangor, Bath, Belfast, Boothbay Harbor, Camden, Castine, Eastport and Rockland, according to CruiseMaine.
In a prepared statement released Thursday, Amy Powers, CruiseMaine’s director, said Maine’s tourism ports are excited for the 2010 cruise ship season to get under way. She indicated that cruises in the Northeast remain popular, which should lead to a lot of full ships arriving in Maine this summer.
“Many of our communities maintain that the spending of the passengers and crew members is grossly underestimated,” Power wrote in the statement. “In Bar Harbor there are merchants that remain open in September and October largely due to the great benefit of doing business with the foot traffic generated by ship visits.”
According to Cruise Lines International Association, the cruise ship industry contributed $29 million in direct spending to Maine’s economy and generated more than 500 jobs in the state in 2008.
Several ships listed on Bar Harbor’s 2010 cruise ship schedule will be making their first-ever visits to Bar Harbor this summer. Clelia II, Seven Seas Voyager, Independence, Summit, AIDAluna, Spirit of Oceanus and Poesia all will make their maiden Bar Harbor stops in 2010. Poesia is 955 feet long and can hold more than 3,000 passengers, according to information posted on the list.
Two of the larger ships to have visited Bar Harbor, Explorer of the Seas and Queen Mary 2, are coming back this year. Explorer of the Seas is scheduled to make four visits total in September and October. Queen Mary 2 is expected to make two visits on Sept. 6 and Oct. 28.
As usual, the Holland America ship Maasdam will be making the most visits to Bar Harbor this year with 16 scheduled. In addition to being the first ship to stop in Bar Harbor this year, Costa Atlantica is expected to be the final ship to visit Bar Harbor this year on Oct. 29.
Bar Harbor’s complete list of scheduled cruise ship visits can be viewed at www.barharbormaine.gov/document/0000/562.pdf.