Bar Harbor would be our first and only tender port. We were assigned a closer anchorage so our boat ride would be less than 10 minutes. There was an NCL ship anchored further out that probably had a 20 minute tender ride.
Since this was our first USA port, we were required to have a face to face immigration screening process starting at 8AM. US citizens were seen in the Queens Lounge while other guests went to the Hudson Room. Passengers were called by floor, starting with Deck 1. Deck 4 was called about 8:40 am and headed down to the Queens Lounge. Our cruise card was scanned as we entered the lounge. Next, one of three agents took a quick look at our passports, asking chatty type questions like, “Where are you from?” and then said “Welcome Home”, and we were on our way. We barely had enough time to stop walking. After we were screened we wound around some back doors and through the Northern Lights where they punched a hole in our cruise card. I surmise that this was Zuiderdam’s simple way to ensure no one left the ship before they were screened – no hole punch – no tender. We weren’t ready to go ashore, so we headed back to our cabin to get ready for the day.
The weather was beautiful with crisp blue skies with temperatures in the high 50’s. I was comfortable with a light sweater over a polo shirt (I did have a windbreaker in my bag if the weather turned colder unexpectedly).
We left the ship around 11 am, there wasn’t any tender line at this point, and we were able to walk directly on to a tender that was getting ready to leave. The water was a little choppy causing delays when the tender and the loading platform were temporarily out of sync and we had to wait for everything to stabilize before we could resume loading. The tenders were completely loaded into the stern section first, then into the forward section. They said it was required to load this way for weight and balance reasons. I haven’t seen this on other tenders and wondered if it was the design in this particular tender or if they had some incident that raised this issue.
Once we were ashore we headed down the street to the Harborside Hotel where Karen Grover from Seven Sisters Arts was hosting a special yarn sale in one of the event rooms. There was a nice selection of yarn and Judy added a few (more than a few?) skeins to her stash. Check out Judy’s expression when I asked her if she might have enough yarn.
Paddy’s Irish Pub is right on the corner of Main Street and West Street. We stopped in for lunch and took a table inside. We both ordered Fish and Chips which were very good, but more expensive ($24) than you may have expected. Service was prompt and the atmosphere was pleasant. We had an enjoyable time relaxing and sampling the local fare. You can surely find less expensive spots in Bar Harbor, but Paddy’s Irish Pub is close, convenient and serves very good food.
On our previous visits to Bar Harbor, we have always noticed that Bar Island, part of Acadia National Park, was accessible via an 8/10ths of a mile long sand bar from 2 hours before to 2 hours after the twice daily low tide. Today’s low tide was about 3 PM giving us a window from 1pm to 5pm. Our all aboard was at 5:30 PM so we would have plenty of time to visit Bar Island.
We walked over to Bridge Street and headed north to the sand bridge which was much wider than we had expected. There didn’t appear to be any restrictions on driving and later on we did see a few cars drive out to the island. Signs were posted cautioning about parking on the sand bar, complete with pictures of partially submerged cars from previous misadventures.
It took us about 20 minutes to make the crossing to Bar Island. We had anticipated that the sand bar would be wet and muddy, but it was completely dry and covered with a mixture of gravel and shells. The walk across was quite pleasant and not difficult. If you could walk a mile down a gravel road, you could easily hike out to Bar Island.
After we reached the Island we continued on a dirt path that curved around and then headed toward the islands high point which was about 1 mile away toward the center of the island. It was a steady, gradual climb until the last ¼ mile which got steeper and rockier, but still easily passable. Colorful trees surrounded the summit and we enjoyed a spectacular view of Bar Harbor to our south. Our hike back to the sand bar was easier, once we got past the steeper section near the summit, since it was a nice gradual downhill slope. The temperature was perfect for our hike. If you do this during the summer, be sure to bring plenty of water is none was available on the island.
We had about an hour before the last tender, so we strolled through town, walking down Main Street and then turning down Cottage Street stopping in the Trailhead Café for some hot chocolate, a latte and a large molasses cookie. Before we went inside the Trailhead Café, we noticed a café called the Route 66 Café which struck us as odd since Bar Harbor is about 1000 miles east of the Route 66 starting point in Chicago. We nibbed around a bit and couldn’t find any particular reason why this came to be called the Route 66 Café other than one of the earlier owners may have been a collector of Route 66 memorabilia.
As it got close to the last tender time, we headed back toward town center and snapped a picture with a giant lobster holding an ice cream cone. We always enjoy these types of local color and are sure to take a picture with them whenever we have the opportunity.
There was about a 20 minute wait for the tender, but we were enjoying the beautiful weather and didn’t mind the wait. Whenever there is plenty to do very near the “All Aboard Point” you will usually find people waiting to the last second which causes a little bit of a line as you near the All Aboard time.
We got back to the ship right at 5:30 – dinner time! (this is one reason we prefer late seating – no rush to dinner when returning to the ship) so we only had enough time to quickly wash up and then head down to the dining room.
The food for this cruise has been exceptional, which it what we have come to expect on Holland America. Tonight I had the Red Snapper with Garlicky Clams and Judy had the Tenderloin of Beef. Both were delicious.
Our dining arrangement with Craft Cruises works out wonderfully as we are always moving around different tables and have chance to meet many people with similar interests in our group. We were informed at dinner by the Assistance Dining Room Manager that 3 of our tables would be hosted by Ship Officers tomorrow evening so if people in our group wanted to sit at a hosted table they should select one of the three designated tables.
Nathaniel Rankin was the headliner tonight in the Vista Lounge. He is a juggler, mind reader and magician and put on an entertaining show. We prefer singers and musicians to jugglers, but Nathaniel put on a good show and we enjoyed it very much.This entry was posted in Uncategorized