BAR HARBOR, Maine — Last week, as the ships Crystal Symphony and Seven Seas Navigator glided out of Frenchman Bay, the local 2013 cruise ship season came to a close with a new record for Maine’s busiest cruise ship port.

According to Charlie Phippen, Bar Harbor’s harbormaster, the seaside town had 126 cruise ship visits this year, 18 more than the previous annual high in 2012. Based on the passenger capacities of each ship, town officials estimate that more than 167,000 cruise ship passengers visited Bar Harbor between May 5 and Oct. 30, Phippen said.

Though 126 visits is a record, the estimated number of cruise ship passengers that came to Bar Harbor this year was not a high, the harbormaster added. In 2010, when several large ships with relatively high passenger counts stopped in Frenchman Bay, an estimated 173,000 passengers came to Bar Harbor, he said.

Portland, Maine’s second busiest cruise ship port, had 58 cruise ship visits between June 1 and Oct. 26. The Emerald Princess, was scheduled to stop in Portland on Nov. 1, but the visit was canceled because of high winds. Brilliance of the Seas, which cruised into Casco Bay on Oct. 26, was the final ship to visit that city this year.

Portland had 58 cruise ship visits in 2012, 65 cruise ship visits in 2011 and 71 in 2010. Despite the decrease in number of visits, more of the ships visiting Portland have been larger ships, which caused the number of cruise ship passengers that have visited Portland in recent years to increase, city officials have said.

Phippen said that 137 cruise ship visits had been scheduled for Bar Harbor this year, but that 11 of those visits were canceled.

“There were a couple of scheduling issues, and the rest were weather [related],” Phippen said.

The Maasdam, which each year makes more stops at Bar Harbor than any other ship, canceled a stop on May 24 due to weather, he said, and three more ships scheduled to stop on Sept. 22 canceled those visits for the same reason. But, he added, there were no major storms that could have shut down the town’s cruise ship business for several days.

“We really dodged a bullet this year,” Phippen said.

So far, 136 cruise ship visits have been scheduled in Bar Harbor for 2014, he added.

According to Cruise Lines International Association, cruise ship companies that include Maine ports in their itineraries collectively contributed $46 million in direct spending in the state in 2012. That represented a $1 million increase in the direct spending in Maine from 2011, CLIA indicated earlier this year. Figures for 2013 are not yet available.

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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....