BAR HARBOR — Cruise operators Princess Cruise Lines and Holland America Line have both listed the Lulu Lobster Boat ride among their top shore excursions for all worldwide ports of call this year, Captain John Nicolai said. He operates the two-hour tour and private charters from the Harborside docks from May through October.
The shore excursions are ranked by passenger reviews. “Princess has their ratings, and we ended up one of their top shore excursions in the world, on a really short list,” he said. “I thought that was a pretty neat thing. Holland America also rates us highly.”
Business from cruise ship passengers has been a boon to Bar Harbor, Nicolai said. “We’ve been saying, we’d like to do business with you while you’re here,” he said. Tour businesses, restaurants and even lobstermen benefit, he said, because some ships now buy Bar Harbor lobster for use in onboard restaurants.
Nicolai works directly with the cruise operators to sign up passengers for his trips, he said, bypassing third-party agents. “They said, ‘Sure, we’d love to work with you.’ They gobble up all the seats I can give them,” he said.
Nicolai and the Lulu have been featured on the Travel Channel, CBS News and even ABC’s “Good Morning America.” They appeared on the Travel Channel show “Hotel Impossible” in an episode about the Vacationland Inn in Brewer. “Their original thought was activities for hotel owners to offer their guests,” Nicolai said. “They chose us because of our reputation.” The feature on CBS news focused on Chinese tourism in Maine, something Nicolai has a particular interest in.
When news broke last month that the crew of a Holland America Line ship helped rescue a pilot after a recent plane crash in the Pacific, “I thought it was kind of a neat local connection,” Nicolai said. “They’re part of our local scene here,” he said. “You hear a lot about the worst things, accidents and food poisoning, but this was really good, positive news.”
Holland America Line, whose Maasdam and Veendam visit many times each season, was given an Environmental Business of the Year award by the Port of Seattle, Wash., last summer. The award cited the company’s fuel and water conservation program, engine-emissions and solid waste reductions, and recycling program.