“We have so much to feel good about. There is much more to be accomplished for our citizens and our visitors as well. I do not see the advent of mega cruise ships into this fragile process to be in any sustainable way beneficial to the culture of our city. To the contrary, everywhere I have seen this process unfold it has been a disaster for most local businesses.”

— Tom O’Donovan, Harbor Square Gallery


As evidenced on Mount Desert Island, mega-cruise ships bring an influx of passengers that overwhelms a small town’s neighborly character, threatens the local lobstering industry, and alienates recreational boaters who pack the harbor with activity for much of the year. Tremont, Northeast Harbor, and Southwest Harbor have all placed moratoriums on any cruise ship activity in their towns, including smaller cruise ships, after witnessing the congestion in the harbor and town streets of Bar Harbor brought on by the cruise industry.


Rockland has the advantage of two excellent art museums and numerous galleries. Short-term income and long visitor lines from mega-sized cruise ships will not further our reputation has a go-to destination for mainland visitors. Furthermore, day trip cruisers are not looking for the kind of work that is available in our high-end galleries. In fact, on days when the cruise tourists are in town, many locals avoid Rockland altogether.


Rockland harbor is unique to the Eastern seaboard with its combination of commercial, fishing, manufacturing, ferries, and pleasure craft. The pleasure marine industry in Maine is over a $550 million industry. With the influx of mega-sized cruise ships and their speeding tenders, crowded dock space, and multitude of people, pleasure craft will go elsewhere. The number of moorings that are currently rented out in Bar Harbor has dropped dramatically since the mega-ships started coming to town.


Rockland’s resurgence over the past decade hasn’t happened by accident. It’s been the result of hard work, bold investments, and brave leaders who knew that the city had much more to offer than what visitors were seeing. Nowhere is that more evident than in the city’s art scene, which has become the most vibrant in Maine (sorry, Portland). Rockland has become a national arts destination, with more than a dozen fine art galleries and two world-class art museums, the Farnsworth Art Museum and the Center for Maine Contemporary Art. This is now Rockland’s “brand” and it is worth preserving through the promotion of responsible tourism.

For an in-depth article about Rockland’s role as an arts destination, click here.