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Port Review: Bar Harbor, New England, USA

By:
Joanna Hall
 

Bar Harbor is a quaint New England fishing village located on the coast of Maine, and its has become a popular destination on a number of east coast itineraries including “fall cruises” for good reason.

The Facts

Location: On the US east coast in Maine, New England.

Language: English.

Currency: US Dollar.

Docking/Anchoring: Ships mostly anchor in Frenchman Bay and use tenders to transport guests to shore at the Town Pier.

Transport: The pier is in the centre of town, so you can explore locally on foot. There is a free Island Explorer bus, which has eight routes linking various places including Arcadia National park, and Oli’s Trolley which is a two-and-a-half-hour narrated tour. Other options include bike rental, and taxis. 

Overview

Bar Harbor has a charming if touristy downtown area, which can be easily explored on foot from the ship, but the main drawcard of visiting is Acadia National park, with highlights including Cadillac Mountain and the Thunder Hole water spout. The village of Bar Harbor welcomes a growing number of ships each summer and autumn, with late September and October being the prime months for spotting fall foliage. The port also has a history which includes being a playground for the elite of days gone by, with frequent visitors including the Rockefellers and Vanderbilts in the 1800s; their summer estates are worth a visit, and pay homage to a bygone era. 

Don’t Miss 

Acadia National Park is said to be the second most visited park in the United States, and it’s open all year round, with nearly 200 kilometres of marked trails, 17 mountains and 18 stone bridges. The park is easiest visited on a tour from the ship, especially if it includes going up Cadillac Mountain and a drive around the loop road. Cadillac Mountain is the highest point on the eastern seaboard of the USA, with 360 degree views.

Thunder Hole is a famous local water spout, which can reach heights of over 12 metres, and it is a symbol of the power of Acadia National Park. When the right size wave flows into a naturally formed inlet, the spout occurs. It’s also a lovely spot to enjoy some of the striking features of the park. North of the spout is Sand Beach and the Great Head, while south you’ll find the 33-metre high Otter Cliff. 

Bar Harbor Historical Society Museum is a former convent and now home to the society, featuring a collection of books, maps, clothing and more, telling the story of the town’s history. 

Lobster Fishing is a major local industry, and there are a number of companies which will take guests out for a lobster fishing tour, giving you an up-close-and-personal view of how the fishermen work and what their day entails.

Bar Harbor Brewery is located in downtown Bar Harbor, and a local microbrewery which offers daily tours with the opportunity of beer tasting.

Best Photo Op 

There are some charming photo ops all through the Bar Harbor village and surrounds, but the ultimate two are from the top of Cadillac Mountain - you might even catch a glimpse of your ship at anchor - and various points from Thunder Hole including the famous water spout.

Shopping

Bar Harbor isn’t really a place to shop for much beyond typical tourist fare. However, there are plenty of arts and crafts stores, and art galleries to wile away time in if you feel the need to open your wallet. 

Food and Drink

You can’t visit New England, or Bar Harbor in particular, without sampling either clam chowder, which is a rich creamy seafood soup, or a lobster roll. If you are venturing to Acadia National Park, the Jordan Pond House is the only restaurant in the area offering tea and popovers (a hollow roll akin to a Yorkshire pudding) with a view. The town has plenty of cafés for a sightseeing break, and plenty of places to try the local staple, lobster, in many forms including lobster pie, lobster mac and cheese and more.  

Pick of the Excursions

If your ship offers a tour which takes in all the local sights, including Acadia National Park and Cadillac Mountain, and perhaps a lobster bake, that’s an ideal way to spend a full day, particularly for first timers to the area.

The Atlantic Brewing Company, which is about 15 kilometres from town, also offers tours and tastings.

If you’re travelling with kids, the Seacoast Fun Park is about 30 minutes away, featuring go-karts, a climbing wall, water slides and more.

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  1. Posted by on 17th Jun 2019 Verified Customer

    Great Views 5 Star Review

    We stopped there on a fall foliage cruise about 5 years ago if my memory serves me well. We didn't have a long day in port so we opted to do a tour which went up the mountain....it got very chilly but the views were amazing! Other than that the village was very touristy but nice all the same

  2. Posted by on 17th Jun 2019 Verified Customer

    Pretty 5 Star Review

    What a pretty looking place. I love architecture so no doubt I would enjoy strolling around among the great mansions there. Thanks for sharing

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