File Photo

High winds strand passengers on ship



File Photo

BAR HARBOR — Most passengers aboard the Holland America Line’s Maasdam were not able to get off the ship and explore Mount Desert Island during their stop here last week due to choppy seas, Harbormaster Charlie Phippen said. One of the most frequent cruise ship visitors to Bar Harbor, the boat carries 1,258 passengers.

The Maasdam pulled into Frenchman Bay on schedule around 7 a.m. last Sunday morning. “They went up into Anchorage B1,” where they had been assigned, Phippen said. “The pilot tried and tried to get them anchored, but they couldn’t get the anchor to hold. They had to maneuver to maintain position.”

Passengers normally board the small tender boats from a large platform on the side of the ship. Early in the day, tenders brought a few passengers in to the Harbor Place pier, but as the wind picked up, it became difficult to load and unload passengers on the platform.

“It was quite choppy up there in Anchorage B,” Phippen said. The boarding platform “was taking on spray from waves breaking, and the boats were rocking enough that it was hard getting people into the tender.”

The captain decided to suspend tender operations and call back the passengers on shore earlier than planned. “They got the passengers back, took a lobster delivery and got ready to head out again,”  Phippen said. The ship left Frenchman Bay around noon, three hours earlier than scheduled.

A large group of Maasdam passengers had made a reservation for lunch together at Galyn’s Galley. “The leader of the group called around 9 a.m. to let us know they wouldn’t be coming,” owner Rick Leiser said.

Two other ships were in town Sunday, Independence at the town pier and Explorer of the Seas in another anchorage. There were no issues with the other two ships, Phippen said. Explorer of the Seas is a much larger ship, so there was no shortage of cruise ship passengers in Bar Harbor shops and restaurants. Those passengers were shuttled aboard local whale watch boats, which are larger and can better handle rougher seas.

Phippen happened to have family members taking a cruise on Independence. They were able to tie up to the town pier as normal, he said, “but they told me they did have a pretty wild ride across the Gulf of Maine coming from Portland Saturday night.”