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Bar Harbor Itinerary - is this doable in a day?


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DH and I will be in Bar Harbor on Sunday, June 26th.  Our ship is scheduled to anchor at 7:00 a.m. and depart at 4:00 p.m.  Originally, we had booked a narrated Acadia bus tour but on further research, we believe we have decided to cancel it and take advantage of the free busses inside the park.  That said, here is our tentative schedule and I'd like to know if it's doable and/or what you'd advise to do differently.

I will caveat this with the facts that we are from a rural area of the country but we have traveled to the Caribbean, the Colorado Rockies, the Canadian Rockies, and even spent 10 days in interior Alaska in an RV a few years ago.  That said, some of the places in Acadia that get rave reviews appear rather "meh" to us such as Jordan's Pond, Cadillac Mtn Summit (can't get there by park bus, anyway), etc.  We've see lots of hills, mountains, lakes, ponds, ocean, etc. on our other trips and even on a daily basis.  Therefore, we'd rather skip or drive by those types of places on this trip to have more time in our schedule which is:

8:00ish a.m. - tender to dock
8:00-10:00 a.m. - walk around Bar Harbor; walk to Mass at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church
10:00-11:00ish a.m. - Mass
11:00-noon  - lunch (DH is looking forward to lobster rolls)
 After lunch, catch first shuttle that takes us to Sand Beach.

1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. - Spend time hiking Great Head Trail and Sand Beach; catch shuttle to Thunder Hole for a quick stop then shuttle back to Bar Harbor.

*Spend any extra time walking around Bar Harbor before catching tender back to our ship for 4:00 p.m. departure. 

 

Just wanting to see if our plan is too ambitious and if there are any other "must sees" that we need to try to squeeze in.  Advice on best lobster rolls (for DH) and best fish and chips (for me) greatly appreciated!  TIA!

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Expecting to leave the ship at eight is a stretch. Many factors come into play such as the size of your ship, and how many other ships are tendering. They all go to the same pier. And don't forget the people on ships tours have first priority in leaving the ship. After them are passengers with status. Then people just going out to explore on their own. Once the tender leaves, expect about 30 minutes before you're in town.  If your ship departure is at four, all onboard time will probably be three, which means you're probably going to get on line to return about Two thirty or so. Don't want to sound gloom and doom, but I've been there many times and this is the process. 

 

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On 6/20/2022 at 3:05 PM, mets123 said:

Expecting to leave the ship at eight is a stretch. Many factors come into play such as the size of your ship, and how many other ships are tendering. They all go to the same pier. And don't forget the people on ships tours have first priority in leaving the ship. After them are passengers with status. Then people just going out to explore on their own. Once the tender leaves, expect about 30 minutes before you're in town.  If your ship departure is at four, all onboard time will probably be three, which means you're probably going to get on line to return about Two thirty or so. Don't want to sound gloom and doom, but I've been there many times and this is the process. 

 


Thanks! This is what I needed to know 🙂 

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That’s a pretty aggressive shore itinerary! Acadia is quite nice but considering your former outdoor/nature experiences, you might be disappointed after taking so much time to get there, hike/sightsee, return to town.  The little town is very nice…tho wonder how it handles big crowds from cruise ships! Us NewEnglanders like our lobster, but you may find it somewhat pricey when costs rise when cruisers hit the streets!   Enjoy!

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Generally, it is best to do the aggressive travel away from port first, and stay closer to port at the end of a visit, so as not to be caught in a rush back with concern over missing the departure of the vessel. Any opportunities for Mass on Saturday evening, so as to free up time on Sunday morning? Alas, I see that Holy Redeemer has only a single Mass on Sunday at 10:00 a.m. After Mass I might consider taking a boxed lunch on the bus, though I can understand the desire to have a freshly-prepared meal (though with anything other than a fast food lunch will you be table to complete lunch timely at a time when Bar Harbor is going to be overrun with cruise line passengers and other tourists?).

 

Leaving Bar Harbor you will want to get a route 3 bus. There's a gap in route 3 service at noon, so the first bus afterwards will depart the village green at 12:30 p.m., and it will be half an hour to Sand Beach (arrive at about 12:55 p.m.). From Sand Beach to Thunder Hole you can travel on either route 3 or route 4: there's 5 buses an hour and the trip is less than five minutes. This should be relatively easy to do. Now working backwards, returning to Bar Harbor from Thunder Hole, you will want to again travel on route 3. There's a route 3 service scheduled to return to the village green at 3:50 p.m., but given the possibilities of traffic, or even a missed run, plus the time to walk from the village green back to the town pier, this would not be a good plan. Better to rely on the 3:20 p.m. arrival. That route 3 bus departs Thunder Hole at 2:58 p.m. So you would have, at most two hours, from arriving at Sand Beach at 12:55 p.m., until departing Thunder Hole at 2:58 p.m., to visit both Sand Beach and Thunder Hole, including the very short bus ride from the former to the latter. Doable? Yes, at least in theory. Will you get much out of it? Probably somewhat, but probably a bit rushed. Finally I note a memorandum describing the results of an onboard passenger survey distributed on buses during October of 2019. See http://www.exploreacadia.com/IEX survey 2019.pdf. On page 6 the memorandum reports perceptions as to bus capacity and service frequency. It reads in relevant part:

 

"Unlike past peak-season summer surveys, there were very few comments about overcrowding or being turned away by full buses. A cruise ship passenger from Australia said, 'The current service is un-crowded and convenient.' A visitor from New York said, 'Plenty of seating now in early October.'

"A year-round Bar Harbor resident had a different perspective. She commented about afternoon crowding due to cruise ship passengers:


"'I use the service to go into the park early to hike. However, sometimes on the way back mid-afternoon, the buses are full of cruise passengers using it for a tour and they do not get off. I’ve had to wait 30-60 minutes to get back from the park. The service is fantastic, but should it be used for cruise passengers to get free tours? At the inconvenience of hikers who leave their cars at home and rely on the Explorer?'"

 

The policy implication by the year-round Bar Harbor resident is clearly wrong: bus services that receive federal funding through the Federal Transit Administration, as is the case with bus service in Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, are funded by all taxpayers from throughout the United States, and must be made available to all. What is important to the question posed here is whether the bus system is sufficiently reliable to transport passengers back to Bar Harbor in advance of the cruise vessel departure time. Will route 3 be overcrowded if everyone else on the same vessel is on the trip scheduled to arrive in Bar Harbor at 3:20 p.m.? Possibly so. By squeezing the travel in at the end of the scheduled port time in Bar Harbor, there is the real possibility that one will not be able to get on a bus back to Bar Harbor in time. You should have a "Plan B," to travel independently from Bar Harbor to the next port, in case the bus is overcrowded and no alternative transportation (e.g., Uber) can be arranged timely. In the alternative, do the aggressive travel in the morning, and remain in Bar Harbor during the late afternoon.

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Though the above explanation is detailed and very long, it did NOT take into account that the OP states that sail away is at 4 which means all on board is about 3.

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21 hours ago, mets123 said:

Though the above explanation is detailed and very long, it did NOT take into account that the OP states that sail away is at 4 which means all on board is about 3.

It is not so much an "all aboard" as it is in getting back to the town pier to board a tender to the larger vessel. Is 4:00 p.m. the departure time of the last tender from the town pier, or the departure time of the larger vessel from its anchorage? The former is useful is useful for passengers, and should be the time advertised, while the latter is useful mostly for the operating crew. Whatever time is the departure of the last tender from the town pier should be the starting point for calculating land activities. If the last departure is at 3:00 p.m., then there will be a need to leave Thunder Hole an hour earlier, on the 1:58 p.m. departure, scheduled to return to the village green at 2:20 p.m. (Yes, if one is daring, then one could try the 2:28 p.m. departure, scheduled to return to the village green at 2:50 p.m., and with a 7-minute walk from the village green to the town pier, arrive at 2:58 p.m., with 2 minutes to spare for the last tender!)

 

The main point that should have come across is that doing this travel into Acadia National Park in the afternoon is not a very good plan. While it is a possible plan, things could go wrong, and one may have to make alternate plans to get to the next port, overland or otherwise. A better plan would be to travel into Acadia National Park in the morning, and leave the afternoon to exploration of Bar Harbor itself. The primary challenge here is the obligation of attending Mass, which is available in Bar Harbor only at 10:00 a.m. (presumably for 45-to-60 minutes) and at no other time. If there is a priest on board the vessel who could celebrate Mass on the Saturday night prior (which is when I typically attend Mass), it would ease the travel logistics for Sunday.

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  • 2 weeks later...

4:00 pm is the time the ship leaves anchor in Bar Harbor, the "all aboard time". Your itinerary is pushing it. 

 

I'm not sure why you are dismissing Cadillac Mountain. It's the first place the sun touches in the US.  If it's a good day, the view is spectacular!!! Sand Beach is no big deal, I suspect you will be a bit disappointed.  Thunder Hole is pretty amazing, but it's always really crowded as there isn't much space. If you do go to Thunder Hole, go to your right and walk on the rocks. Within about 5 minutes you'll feel like you are all alone!

 

 

 

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