Voters in Bar Harbor, Maine, are expected to vote next Tuesday, June 13, on whether to convert an idle ferry terminal into a cruise pier and also whether to limit the size on cruise ships allowed to dock and eventually on the number of passengers that can come ashore on any given day.
The busiest port in Maine, Bar Harbor already limits cruise passengers coming ashore in one day to 3,500 during July and August, when there is heavy visitor congestion, and to 5,500 during the early summer and fall months.
Today, large ships anchor and tender in, only vessels carrying up to 100 passengers dock in downtown Bar Harbor. (The ferry terminal is outside of town and would require a five-minute shuttle ride.)
According local news sources, there is a local citizens group that would like to limit the size of cruise ships calling at the ferry terminal to 300 feet in length and also have the voters decide on the daily limits rather than the city council.
With a local population of 5,535, Bar Harbor reportedly sees more than 3 million visitors a year, including 170,000 cruise passengers last year. This year, a record 163 cruise calls are booked and are expected to bring as many as 225,000 passengers.
This has caused the citizens group to be formed, led by A.J. Greif, who is a Bar Harbor resident and attorney. He said in an interview with WDEA Radio posted on YouTube that Miami port consultants Bermello Ajamil & Partners had proposed the building of a new cruise terminal, replacing the old ferry pier. The terminal would be 2,300 feet long from the high tide line, to accommodate the largest vessels.
An artist’s rendering shows the proposed terminal to extend about three times further out than the existing terminal and with two ships, one on each side.
With an estimated cost in the range of $30 to $40 million, Greif also said that the only way to pay for a bond to finance the terminal would be to triple the number of ship calls and passengers.
Greif compared the process of going to the consulting firm before having a local policy in place like “asking the fox to design the henhouse.”
View of unused ferry terminal: