Bar Harbor gets over 70 cruise ship visits in a single season! Sometimes two large ships can be docked in the harbor at once sending a flood of tourists itching for dry land on to the island during daylight hours. Or even a single monster ship like the Queen Mary 2 or even larger (by 10 feet and more passengers) Explorer of the Seas from Royal Caribbean.
Seeing the cruise ships in the harbor can be very exciting but while the cruise ships are great for the local economy and don't increase the number of cars on island there are some disadvantages. If you have limited vacation time you should plan out your activities with the cruise ship schedule in mind. There are simply places you don't want to be when a cruise ship is in town. Here are the top places to avoid:
1. The Shore Path - The Shore Path in Bar Harbor is very convienent to cruise ship passengers and many guided tours take place here when cruise ships are in town. Its a great place to view the ships be prepared to have your way blocked by groups of cruisers. Best to take a stroll around dinner time when the ships passengers are rushing back for buffets and the ships are getting ready to set sail. This way you can watch them leave the harbor.
2. China Joy (and the sub shops like the now closed EPI) - The less expensive eateries in downtown Bar Harbor get filled up with employees from the ships looking for a break from cruise food.
3. The Town Pier - This is where the cruise line shuttle boats drop off passengers and tour bus operators who line up waiting to take cruise ship passengers on rides through Acadia National Park.
4. Any ice cream outlet in Bar Harbor. Prepare to wait in line if a cruise ship is in town.
5. Cadillac Mountain - The mountain top is busy enough normally, then add all of the buses full of cruisers. Go around five when the cruise ships are getting ready to leave town.
6. Jordan Pond House - This area will be covered with cruise ship passengers as well as the popular hiking trail around Jordan Pond.
7. The Park Loop Road - Popular spots such as Sand Beach and Thunderhole will be extra busy.
All in all it might be best to check out the "Quietside" of MDI on cruise ship days. Swim at Echo Lake, dine in Southwest Harbor, check out the lighthouse in Bass Harbor, get a lobster at Thurstons.