BAR HARBOR — As an older, well-known and trusted member of the Royal Caribbean fleet, Legend of the Seas is often the first ship to be sent to new ports or to try new itineraries. The ship made its first visit to Maine last Thursday as part of a very busy year of voyages that has included a transatlantic crossing from Hamburg to New Jersey and the beginning of a trip around the world to begin in Singapore. In the spring of 2015, trips are planned in the South Pacific.
Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce membership and marketing director Ron Wrobel led a small delegation to visit the ship for lunch and to exchange welcome plaques with the captain. Earlier in the day, the executive chef and inventory manager on board ship had arranged to buy hundreds of pounds of lobster from a local wholesaler.
The ship was built in France by Chantiers de l’Atlantique and launched in 1994. She is regularly refitted between voyages, though, so navigation and other equipment aboard is consistent across the Royal Caribbean fleet and is as modern as that found on the newest boats.
Royal Caribbean is an umbrella company that owns Celebrity Cruises and several smaller cruise lines. Bar Harbor is the only port Royal Caribbean visits in New England where the ship does not tie up to a pier and passengers must be ferried ashore on tender boats, security officer John Moore said. All the tender operators are either deck officers or licensed Able Seamen, he said.
“The last time I was in Bar Harbor was 14 years ago aboard the Splendor of the Seas,” Captain Arild Hansen said during the exchanging of gifts. “It was a very foggy day, so there wasn’t much of a view.” Capt. Hansen is originally from Norway and lives in British Columbia.
Bar Harbor Chamber board members Tom Abbott and Pat O’Brien offered gifts from their businesses. Debbie Dyer of the Bar Harbor Historical Society presented historical walking maps of town. The society has a large collection of plaques from cruise ships’ first visits over the years.
Explorer of the Seas has a classic design, Moore said, with two primary restaurants and two show lounges. The ship’s entertainment venues feature performances by a traveling company and sometimes local acts from wherever in the world the ship is sailing.
On the ship’s bridge, discussion turned to how the ship’s crew keeps an eye on traffic and fishing gear.
“Fishermen are pretty good about keeping gear out of the traffic lanes,” apprentice officer Dylan Adams said. “We noticed on the way up from New Jersey this year that a lot of the fishing boats are using radar reflectors on their gear. Otherwise, it’s up to the lookout, and with even a tiny bit of chop it’s very difficult to see all the fishing gear.”
In Canada, some fishermen even have Automatic Information System (AIS) transponders on their gear, Adams said. The AIS system provides information to any vessel with a receiving unit, such as a cruise ship or large cargo ship, and that information can be useful in navigating around the boat or gear. “For any sailor that had a fiberglass or wooden boat that’s hard to see on radar, I’d highly recommend having at least a ‘B-type,’ or transponder, AIS unit,” he said.