This Town in Maine Just Voted to Strictly Limit Cruise Ship Passengers — Here's How It May Impact Your Trip

Bar Harbor, Maine serves as a popular jumping off point for both Acadia National Park and cruises to Canada.

The cruise ship Adventure of the Seas sits off Bar Harbor on Mount Desert Island
A Royal Caribbean Cruise ship in Bar Harbor, Maine in 2018. . Photo:

Gregory Rec/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

A tourist destination in Maine voted this week to severely curtail cruise visitors, limiting disembarking passengers to no more than 1,000 people each day. 

The town of Bar Harbor approved a citizen’s petition on Tuesday, called Article 3, which caps daily disembarking cruise visitors (including both passengers and crew) to no more than 1,000 people total, CruiseMaine told Travel + Leisure. The vote passed by more than 58%, according to the town.

The new rule does not apply to ships that were booked before July 18, 2021.

“Visitors, no matter how they arrive, are vital to Maine’s economy,” a spokesperson for CruiseMaine told T+L after the vote. “Each year, cruise visitors contribute tens of millions of dollars to the economy and support hundreds of jobs. In the coming days and weeks, CruiseMaine will work with businesses and other stakeholders directly impacted by the ballot measure to help them navigate these changes.”

Kevin L. Sutherland, the Bar Harbor town manager, told T+L the town’s council would meet Thursday evening “to discuss their duties and responsibilities with legal counsel,” but declined to comment further.

The new cap will likely have a large impact since CruiseMaine estimated 95% of passengers currently arrive on ships with a capacity exceeding 1,000. Bar Harbor serves as a popular jumping off point for both Acadia National Park and cruises to Canada.

The measure further limited cruise visitors months after Bar Harbor implemented its own efforts to curb the number of passengers. In August, the town council accepted recommendations to limit the number of passengers allowed to disembark to 3,500 in July and August, and to 3,800 in May, June, September, and October. As part of that, the town would limit ships to no more than three per day.

The town, which welcomed its first cruise ship in more than two years in April, had previously capped cruise ship capacity at 5,500 passengers per day.

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