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Cruise ships have made Bar Harbor popular. But have they ruined it?

Residents debate over how much the town should adapt itself to the cruise ship industry without spoiling what draws the visitors in the first place

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Since the late 1990s, cruise ships have brought hordes of tourists to Acadia National Park, outside of Bar Harbor, where they can enjoy spectacular views at the top of Cadillac Mountain (above).

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Since the late 1990s, cruise ships have brought hordes of tourists to Acadia National Park, outside of Bar Harbor, where they can enjoy spectacular views at the top of Cadillac Mountain.

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Bar Harbor has only 5,200 year-round residents, and on some days, the tourist crowds are overwhelming. They pour in at once to the quaint downtown (above), where dozens of tour buses await.

Bar Harbor, Maine

RESIDENTS of this scenic coastal town have struggled for the last several years with a conundrum familiar to anyone living in a beautiful place that attracts tourists: How do you maintain its essence when crowds threaten the very qualities they come to enjoy?

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