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American Constitution Makes Unscheduled Call on Bar Harbor

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American Constitution Makes Unscheduled Call on Bar Harbor


This happened on June 15, but I haven’t seen any mention on Cruise Critic.  I have been following developments in the Bar Harbor paper since I’m here in Acadia National Park, and thought it would be of interest.


In 2022 Bar Harbor and the cruise industry signed a Memorandum of Agreement [MOA] limiting the number of cruise ships that can call at Bar Harbor and requiring that all applications be filed by Jan. 15 for the coming season.  Small ships like those of American Cruise Lines are exempt from the daily limit but must still apply by Jan. 15.


An article in the June 29, 2023 Mount Desert Islander states that American Constitution was originally scheduled to end its New England Explorer itinerary in Bucksport on June 15 and bus the passengers to Bar Harbor, “but they canceled the day of, and they didn’t give us a reason” according to Bucksport Harbormaster Mike Ormsby.  Instead, American Constitution proceeded to Bar Harbor and discharged its passengers there.  [The ship did make its next scheduled stop in Bucksport on June 25, “but with a different captain than usual, according to Ormsby.”  American Cruise Lines would not comment on why there was a new captain for this voyage.]


Bar Harbor issued a notice of violation, noting that ACL “took this action over the express objections of the Town and in violation of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA),” since ACL’s requests to anchor in Bar Harbor were filed after the booking deadline and therefore denied by the town.  [all facts and quotations from Mount Desert Islander June 29, 2023]


A follow-up article in the July 6, 2023 Mount Desert Islander states that Charles Robertson, president and CEO of American Cruise Lines, came to Bar Harbor and spoke at the Town Council meeting on June 28 to apologize.  Apparently ACL thought their exemption to the ship limit also applied to the application date.  [However, ACL had filed multiple applications for another ship, American Independence, before the Jan. 15 deadline.]


Robertson then requested that the proposed dates for American Constitution be accepted for the rest of the season, and that ACL’s ships be allowed to use Anchorage A, which is much closer (1/2 mile) to the tender docks than the other anchorages (~1 mile) and is therefore more suitable to ACL’s operations because their tender boats “are not equipped with radar, nor are they enclosed to protect passengers from the sun or rough weather conditions.”  Both requests were denied because they go against the terms of the MOA.  Bar Harbor Harbormaster Chris Wharff did acknowledge that in poor weather conditions the ACL captain could ask permission to use Anchorage A and it would be granted.  [all facts and quotations from Mount Desert Islander July 6, 2023]


I am posting this as a heads-up to any passengers booked on American Constitution for the 2023 season:  you will not be arriving in Bar Harbor by ship.  You will apparently disembark in Bucksport and be bused to Bar Harbor.


Also to any passengers of American Independence:  you will most likely be tendering ~1 mile from the ship at Anchorage B1 or B2 to the tender dock.  Dress accordingly!


Original articles [may be paywall]:

June 29, 2023:



July 6, 2023:


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17 hours ago, Host Jazzbeau said:


American Constitution Makes Unscheduled Call on Bar Harbor


An article in the June 29, 2023 Mount Desert Islander states that American Constitution was originally scheduled to end its New England Explorer itinerary in Bucksport on June 15 and bus the passengers to Bar Harbor...

My Cape Codder cruise on the Constitution ended in Boston June 12.  CD said the ship would then begin its 11-day New England Explorer cruise.  This is what was and still is shown on the ACL website.  The website shows that 4 days into that cruise (not at the end) the ship arrives at Bucksport and passengers are bused to Bar Harbor for the day.  This would be June 15.


Odd that the cruise would be terminated in Bucksport and the passengers "bused to Bar Harbor," since they needed to be returned to Boston.  What would they do in Bar Harbor. So maybe a disconnect here...did the cruise really terminate unexpectedly?


But obviously something unplanned happened, why else would CEO be apologizing to council.


On a previous Constitution cruise, we did indeed have to be tendered in over a mile.  And that would be bad in foul weather.  But the weather was fair when we left the ship in Boston June 12, and if I recall correctly was forecast to be good for the rest of that week.   

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  • 4 weeks later...

We sailed Constitution's July 22 - August 2 cruise RT Boston and our Bar Harbor day had us docking in Bucksport and taking buses to Bar Harbor. I understand Bar Harbor wanting to limit passenger ships, but if I was a local I'd be more annoyed by the bus traffic than by a small ship like Constitution tendering. (And kudos to our bus driver, Amanda, for negotiating the traffic in Bar Harbor!)


I did enjoy this article about Bucksport that turned up in my FB feed earlier this week: https://www.wabi.tv/2023/07/31/authentic-maine-town-sign-beckons-bar-harbor-tourists-bucksport/?fbclid=IwAR2UOahIoHqXUaXGVzpsPCKCzoblb49l5u4JGO83iGhwkXKrmYRMTZbdb2M. It's a cute little town - I wish we had time to look around more than we did.

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