We’re becoming a port of call

Eastport has the deepest natural harbor in the continental U.S., but getting here requires going through Canadian waters. As a consequence, especially in the aftermath of 9/11, there are far fewer boats than you might expect during much of the year.

My first year up here, we had some impressive superyachts but no cruise ships. After seeing some celebrated floating hotels overshadowing Key West and then Portland, Maine, I would consider that as a blessing. From the water, the QE2 looked bigger than the Queen City of Maine’s downtown.

One of the newer trends, though, has been a revival of smaller cruise vessels of 200 or so passengers, and last summer we had a handful of those. Apart from the fact that they blocked some very popular mackerel fishing from the pier, they were a welcome addition to the downtown.

Bar Harbor, at the other end of our Downeast Region, has decided it’s become too popular as a port of call. Some days in summer have had two visiting cruise ships that drop off thousands of tourists on the town’s narrow streets and neighboring Acadia National Park. The local reaction has been to impose a limit, and that may be sending some itineraries our way.

This year it looks like we’re getting up to 11 ships, 16 visits in all, most of them in the autumn foliage season.

Here’s what I’ve found.

  • Pearl Mist, May 8 and again September 11.
  • Holland America Line’s Zaadam, May 22. The largest of the ships, with a maximum of 1,432 passengers plus staff, the 781-foot long vessel has more people than Eastport’s year-round population.
  • The 520-passenger Roald Amudsen. After a visit last September, the icebreaker expedition ship returns on September 15 on its four-ocean bucket-list voyage from the British Columbia across the Arctic Sea and down to Antarctica.
  • Star Pride, 212 passengers, October 2 and 6.
  • Viking Mars, 944 passengers, October 5.
  • Seven Seas Mariner, October 12.
  • Insignia, October 17, 21, 24, and November 8.
  • Viking Star, 944 passengers, October 19.
  • Ocean Navigator, 220 passengers, October 26. A return after spending two weeks in April at the Breakwater preparing for its summer season on the St. Lawrence and Great Lakes.
  • Le Bellot, October 30.
  • Le Dumont, November 10 or so.

It will be interesting to see what the infusion of visitors in the fall shoulder season will do to the town. Things really slow down after Labor Day.

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