To the Editor:
In recent years, the numbers and sizes of cruise ships coming to Bar Harbor each season have increased greatly and will increase again this year. Clearly, cruise ships want to come here. Segments of our tourism industry have gained financially from this increased traffic. We should ask ourselves why cruise ships want to come to Bar Harbor.
At recent gatherings, we have been told that the companies with the largest ships, and thus the most passengers, are phasing out their smaller ships and building bigger ships (1,200 foot or more, 6,000 passengers or more) to profit from the economy of scale. They prefer to come to ports that build docking facilities for these larger ships.
The industry goal for the large cruise ships is to keep their passengers on board ship most of the time, spending personal money on ship-provided amenities. The biggest cost for cruise ships is the cost of fuel they must burn between ports. The slower they go, the less fuel they burn, the greater their profits.
Various ports have built large piers to provide docking space for the largest cruise ships. Nevertheless, cruise ships have not come to many of these ports. What does this mean for Bar Harbor?
Cruise ships come to Bar Harbor because it is the right distance from Boston/New York/Portland to steam slowly from embarkation ports and arrive here in one day, thus saving lots of money on their fuel costs.
They do not care what attractions are in our port because they want their passengers to spend their personal money on ship amenities.
Large cruise ship lines would be happy to have Bar Harbor build a huge pier for them, but that is not the critical factor. The critical factor is location. We do not have to take on a lot of financial debt (cost of building a huge pier) or legal risk (abdicate local control over the nature of our marine facilities) to keep them coming.
Abigail H. Conrad