One small town has had just about enough with the congestion being caused by cruise ships arriving in their region.
And the town council is doing something about it.
Officials in Bar Harbor, Maine, have voted to cap the number of daily passengers and monthly passengers that can visit the town, as well as a limit on the number of cruise ships that can pull into the harbor every day.
And it might not stop there. A citizen’s initiative that will go before voters in November would put an even more restrictive limit of 1,000 passengers per day.
Members of the town council are happy with the limits they are putting into place for now.
“We talked about much more drastic reductions that I think would have certainly been more significant,” town councilor Matthew Hochman told the Bangor Daily News. “But I think they would have been more difficult to get the industry to agree to, and we need buy-in from the industry.”
The plan passed by the council puts daily caps of 3,500 passengers in July and August, and 3,800 passengers in May, June, September, and October.
It also institutes monthly caps of 30,000 passengers in May and June, 40,000 in July and August, and 65,000 in September and October.
It also limits the number of daily cruise ships allowed in the harbor to no more than three on any given day.
Ships carrying fewer than 200 passengers are exempt from the rules.
Officials have made the move due to overcrowding and congestion in the town caused by all of the cruise ship passengers. Officials say it takes away from the tranquillity of the vacation spot.
More than 53 pages of comments on the proposal were submitted by members of the public, most in favor of the limits. Some business owners were concerned, however, about the reduction in customers.
Others want them to go even further in the future.
“To some extent with the citizens’ initiative and what we want to do, we’re talking about dancing. And this has us crawling, but we got to start with crawling,” Hochman told Maine Public Radio. “This does not preclude further reductions in the future.”
Hochman said it will take time to see if this plan goes far enough.
“Maybe in a perfect world we implement these numbers and realize OK, it’s not that bad out there anymore; this actually helped,” he said. “But we’re never going to know that if we just say it doesn’t do enough; let’s not do it.”
Voters won’t have much time to know if the plan is enough, however. The citizens’ initiative that goes before them in November calls for a daily cap of only 1,000 people allowed ashore.
Charles Sidman, a 40-year resident leading the petition effort to get the initiative on the ballot, told the Portland Press Herald that cruise ships have overwhelmed Bar Harbor and its 5,500 residents, polluted the water, and taken away the town’s charm.
“The cruise ship industry is like a cancer,” he said.
Sidman called the cruise ship industry good for the ice cream shops and T-shirt shops, but bad for the rest of the town.
“You can’t walk down the sidewalk, you can’t get into the stores because of the huge lines,” he said.
Bar Harbor is not the only town in Maine worried about the congestion. According to Maine Public Radio, the city of Portland is also considering limits on cruise ships.