by Barb, back from Bouchercon and working away in her study

Back when our condo in Portland, Maine was built, it had views of the harbor. That’s why, improbably, our living-dining-kitchen space is on the third floor.

Now we have a view of the condo building behind us.

Even the people who bought into our complex originally in 2007 knew they would eventually lose their views. “If you want water views, buy waterfront,” one of them said to me philosophically. Due to the Great Recession, they probably got to have views a lot longer than they otherwise would have. We were the first people to buy here after the views were gone, and I’m a little divided about it. On the one hand, I would have loved the views, but on the other, I can’t miss something I never had. Plus the construction behind us was long, messy, and loud.

But, despite all this, from my fourth floor study, I have fantastic views of the cruise ships that visit our harbor.

I’m fascinated by these giant ships that look like skyscrapers floating on their sides. I often look up where they’re coming from and going to. This time of year they’re usually going up the coast to Bar Harbor, Halifax, St. John, or sometimes even Quebec. Later when the leaf-peeping starts, the direction will reverse. When they are on their way to New York City/New Jersey, and send them on with best wishes to my friend Dru Ann Love, who can see them from her windows there.

In Key West, where we live January through March, we run our lives by the cruise ships. Going downtown? Check the cruise ship schedule in the local paper. Three ships in town? Forget about it. Having drinks and watching the sunset? Check out what time that giant ship will be leaving. Don’t want it to block our view.

A two-fer day

But much bigger Portland seems to absorb the tourists better and we don’t spend a lot of time at the height of summer in the Old Port, in any case. Through the windows at my nail place, I do like watching the touring trolleys go by. And observing the group tours in Eastern Cemetery out my windows on the side opposite the water.

The ships are usually gone by dark, though as the fall gets later, and the days shorter, that will decreasing be the case. I’ve never been on a cruise, though I have vivid memories of seeing my grandparents off on the QE2, when I was a small child.

For now, my trips are completely imaginary, but I enjoy them thoroughly, nonetheless.

About Barbara Ross

Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries. Her books have been nominated for multiple Agatha Awards for Best Contemporary Novel and have won the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. She lives in Portland, Maine. Readers can visit her website at
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7 Responses to Cruisin’

  1. susanvaughan says:

    Barb, fascinating about being in a four-story condo and an interesting view. Those stairs will keep you in shape! We visited Acadia NP in July with out-of-state visitors and learned quickly to avoid downtown Bar Harbor mid day when a cruise ship was in the harbor.

    • Barbara Ross says:

      I can see that the cruise ships would hit Bar Harbor much like they do in Key West. I know they’re controversial. The passengers are great for the t-shirt shops and the souvenir shops and the touring trolleys, etc, but do nothing for the dinner restaurants, the B&Bs, the hotels, etc.

  2. Gram says:

    Ahhh yes…the newly wed and the nearly dead as they refer to cruise ship passengers in the USVI. But they live on/off tourism.

  3. L.C. Rooney says:

    Here in Bar Harbor our in-town activities are determined by the cruise ship schedule. September and October are the months the mammoth ships come, often two and sometimes three at a time. I always say, “They’re going to love us to death.”

    • Barbara Ross says:

      So interesting.That’s what we sometimes say in Key West. But then when it looked for awhile like Havana would fully open and we would lose the business, that caused consternation, too.

  4. Dru says:

    I do love that your ship sighting will venture its way down to me.

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