BAR HARBOR, Maine — With the number of cruise ship visits in Frenchman Bay already booked for 2013, the record high of local cruise ship visits set this year might be short-lived.

Bar Harbor got its highest-ever number of cruise ship visits this year, even though the final three ship visits scheduled for 2012 were canceled due to superstorm Sandy. The ships had been scheduled to drop anchor in Frenchman Bay early last week.

As a result, the final cruise ship to visit MDI this year was the 940-passenger Crystal Symphony on Saturday, Oct. 27.

Charlie Phippen, Bar Harbor’s harbormaster, said last week that the Crystal Symphony’s visit was the 108th such visit in Bar Harbor for 2012, a record number for any calendar year. It breaks the previous high of 107 visits in 2010 by one. In 2011, Bar Harbor had 106 cruise ship visits.

So far for 2013, Bar Harbor has 135 cruise ship visits penciled in. There tend to be cancellations every year, mostly because of bad weather, but cancellations next year would have to be unusually high in order for 2013’s total not to surpass the annual record just set last week.

In 1990, Bar Harbor had only 22 cruise ship visits.

Phippen said that, despite the record number of ship visits this year, he believes the actual number of cruise ship passengers who stopped in Bar Harbor this year is lower than in 2011. By his estimate, more than 130,000 cruise ship passengers arrived in Bar Harbor between the beginning of May and the end of October.

Phippen said the Caribbean Princess, a large ship that can carry more than 3,000 passengers, made more than a dozen stops in Bar Harbor last year, but fewer this year, which likely reduced the town’s total number of cruise ship passengers for 2012.

“That bumped up our passenger count in 2011,” he said.

Among ships expected to make their maiden voyages to Bar Harbor in 2013 are the 1,250-passenger Marina, the 2,394-passenger Norwegian Gem, and the 2,050-passenger AidaBella. The well-known Queen Mary 2 is expect to make two visits, on Sept. 13 and Oct. 18, while the 1,200-passenger Maasdam is expected to visit Bar Harbor 22 times.

Portland had 59 cruise ship visits scheduled for 2012 and only one of them was canceled, according to Nicole Clegg, spokeswoman for the city. The estimated passenger count for 2012 was more than 65,000, she said Monday.

Portland had 65 cruise ship visits in 2011 and 71 in 2010. City and industry officials have estimated that approximately 90,000 cruise ship passengers visited Portland last year.

In 2013, Portland expects to have 61 cruise ship visits and to host nearly 81,000 cruise ship passengers.

Cruise Lines International Association has indicated that the industry spent $45 million directly in Maine in 2011. That figure represents nearly a 25 percent increase from the more than $36 million the industry spent in Maine in 2010, according to cruise industry officials.

The number of jobs generated by the industry in Maine for 2011 was 795, which represents a 15 percent increase from the 690 jobs the industry generated in the state the previous year, the industry group indicated. People who held those jobs earned wages totaling approximately $25 million for the year.

Tourism officials in Maine have said that, on average, cruise ship passengers are estimated to spend approximately $100 in each port that they visit.

Follow BDN reporter Bill Trotter on Twitter at @billtrotter.

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....