BAR HARBOR — Promoting the Atlantic Canada/New England region as a destination for cruise ships was a focus of the 17th annual Canada New England Cruise symposium held this week at the Harborside Hotel. The event was planned by the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce, CruiseMaine and the town.
“It’s unusual to be giving a speech in a place when that place is listed in the ‘all other’ part of graph,” said Adam Goldstein, President and Chief Operating Officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises. According to numbers from the Cruise Lines International Association, regions of the world with the most cruises [by passenger capacity] include the Caribbean, with 36 percent and the Mediterranean has 20 percent. The Canada New England region is part of “all other” with 15 percent. “But fleet deployment [where companies choose to send their ships] is not something we can afford to be emotional about,” he said.
Port and cruise line representatives pointed to Alaska, where 20 years ago, cruises catered mostly to older people. It has re-branded itself to become a more popular family destination, including adventurous excursions.
Amy Powers of CruiseMaine also addressed bringing the region “out of the back of the book.” A cruise has advantages over a road trip for family vacations, she said. “We want to bring the family unit to Maine by ship if we can.”
For Bar Harbor, plans for the international ferry terminal property on Route 3 loom large. Jonathan Nass, deputy commissioner of the Maine Department of Transportation, told the group that work should begin in the next few years on the planned new intermodal facility there. It would allow large ships to tie up. Currently, most ships visiting Bar Harbor anchor and send passengers ashore via tenders.
Government officials from both sides of the border gave welcome addresses Monday morning, including U.S. Senator Angus King and Thierry Weissenberger, consul and senior trade commissioner at the Consulate General of Canada.
“I consider the integrated cruise business as part of the deep relationship that exists between the two countries and the two regions in particular,” Weissenberger said. “It can be a model for economic integration. We hope to sustain its success and ensure that public and private instruments are in place to support it.”
He and King both mentioned working to harmonize and simplify regulations.
“I can tell you that in Washington there’s a lot of thought being given to how we can streamline regulations – not give up regulations – but how we can do things in a much more predictable and timely way,” said King.
“To the extent that there are ways we can help you, please let us know. We want to make this work. I know I speak for my colleagues in the Canadian Parliament and in the state legislature when I say you’ve got to tell us. We can’t always fix the problem, but we certainly can’t if we don’t know what it is.”