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Top New England port to cruise lines: Don't even think about coming here this year

July 09, 2020
5 min read
Top New England port to cruise lines: Don't even think about coming here this year
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At least a few cruise lines are hoping to restart operations in North America in the coming months. But there's one place they won't be going: Bar Harbor, Maine.

The town council of the popular New England port town on Tuesday voted to ban cruise ships for the rest of the year.

"I don’t think the risk is worth the reward,” Bar Harbor councilor Matt Hochman said in advance of the vote, according to the Bangor Daily News. “I don’t think 2020 is the year for it.”

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The nearly unanimous vote came after a presentation by small-ship specialist American Cruise Lines, which hoped to resume cruises to Bar Harbor in the coming weeks.

Based in Connecticut, American Cruise Lines has a fleet of small cruise ships that offer trips in U.S. coastal waters and on U.S. rivers. It's a major cruise operator in New England as well as on the Mississippi River complex and the Pacific Northwest's Columbia and Snake rivers.

Related: Is cruising done for 2021? This cruise line thinks so

American Cruise Lines operates the 175-passenger American Constitution in New England and on the Hudson River in New York. (Photo courtesy of American Cruise Lines)
Small-ship specialist American Cruise Lines operates the 175-passenger American Constitution in New England. (Photo courtesy of American Cruise Lines)

Known as the gateway to Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor draws more than 100 cruise ship visits in a typical year. Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Holland America and Royal Caribbean are among the lines that send ships to the port regularly.

Also, the town sees at least one or two visits every year from ships operated by luxury lines Silversea, Crystal Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Seabourn. A few European vessels operated by the likes of Germany's Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, Aida Cruises and TUI Cruises also will call at Bar Harbor every year.

Several cruise lines including Princess Cruises already have canceled all their New England sailings for 2020. But other lines still have some New England sailings on their schedules for later this year.

American Cruise Lines is talking to several New England ports about restarting voyages in the region as soon as later this month. The line's small ships are exempt from a "no-sail order" for cruise ships in U.S. waters issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) due to their small size.

Related: How to book a cruise with points and miles

The CDC's no-sail order, which is scheduled to expire on July 24 but could be extended, only applies to vessels that carry more than 250 passengers and crew.

American Cruise Lines vessels that sail in New England typically carry around 175 passengers, but a representative for the line told the Bar Harbor town council that the company only planned to operate its ships with about 60 passengers and 40 crew members on board.

American Cruise Lines had come up with a detailed plan to keep its ships virus free that included medical screenings for passengers and crew and social distancing during port stops.

But in advance of the cruise ban vote, Bar Harbor councilor Jill Goldthwait said that residents were on edge about the coronavirus as tourists started to return to Maine, and even the arrival of a small ship with few passengers and a solid illness-reduction plan could cause anxiety.

Related: Millions of Americans can now visit Maine without a quarantine

"For a lot of people, cruise ships are cruise ships, be they big or small," Goldthwait said, according to Maine Public Radio. "Even these very small, well-managed ships, with a highly responsible response plan, are a major threat, psychologically, to many of our residents."

Additional resources for cruisers during the coronavirus outbreak:

Featured image by American Cruise Lines operates the 175-passenger American Constitution in New England. (Photo courtesy of American Cruise Lines)

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
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  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases