Norwegian Pearl Becomes First Cruise to Visit Bar Harbor in Two Years

For the first time in more than two years, a large cruise ship sailed into the harbor at Bar Harbor, ME. Last Thursday, Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Pearl arrived at the New England port with cruise guests heading ashore via tenders for a day of touring, shopping and dining.

Calling the ship's arrival a huge milestone for the cruise industry, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) put out a statement. The trade group said the cruise industry returns to Maine's shores with some of the highest levels of COVID-19 mitigation [aboard ships], with protocols virtually unmatched by any commercial setting.

Kelly Craighead, CLIA's president and CEO, described Maine as a "marquee New England destination offering spectacular scenery, recreational opportunities, and terrific cuisine, and also serves as the gateway to the United States and a port of call along the way to and from destinations in Canada, the Caribbean, and beyond for oceangoing cruise ships."

“Prior to the pandemic, the cruise industry contributed $68 million in direct economic spend and created over 1,000 jobs in Maine amounting to $36 million in wages," she noted. "The industry looks forward to once again contributing to Maine’s vibrant economy and to share with guests, from the around the world, this treasured destination.”

CLIA's statistics show that since cruising restarted in July of 2020, more than 7.5 million passengers have sailed around the world. In ports where cruising has yet to restart, though, the cessation of cruise ship calls has meant economic hardship for merchants. (Check out the photo below, showing a sign placed by a grateful Bar Harbor merchant.)

Store window in Bar Harbor, ME, showing a sign, "Welcome Back Cruisers," as Norwegian Pearl returned to the port in April 2022.

“As business owners, the return of cruisers means better and more opportunities to not only to see people but to expand our business as well,” said Roxanne and Jay Udasi, owners of Acadia Jewels in Bar Harbor. “We are excited to see cruisers return, it’s a sign that things are going back to some sense of normalcy.”

Above and Beyond

As for COVID mitigation measures aboard ships, CLIA stressed that the measures the cruise industry has adopted not only go above and beyond what has been expected and required, but the stringent protocols have proven successful in virtually eliminating severe outcomes. "As a result, our members are able to identify and address cases of COVID-19 swiftly based on prearranged response plans at no burden to public health resources of the communities that we visit," said the CLIA statement.

The trade group called that "an exceptional achievement that the industry is extremely proud of." As the industry resumes operations in Maine, nearly 100 percent of CLIA member lines' oceangoing ships are projected to be back cruise operations by late July 2022.

With that in mind, CLIA said that "responsible tourism management is not only a top priority for the industry, but it is a business imperative," and that the association is committed to working with ports and communities from an environmental sustainability, destination stewardship and public health perspective.

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