Andy and James Allen have purchased the Lulu,, which operates lobster fishing cruises out of Bar Harbor. ALLEN ASSOCIATES PHOTO

Brothers buy lobster excursion boat Lulu



BAR HARBOR — Fresh from their successes operating the Sea Princess excursion and nature cruise out of Northeast Harbor, and the popular Wild Acadia Fun Park in Trenton, brothers Andy and James Allen have expanded their business holdings.

This winter they have purchased the excursion vessel Lulu, which operates lobster fishing cruises for tourists out of Bar Harbor. The vessel, which the pair purchased from Captain John Nicolai, runs up to four two-hour tours daily in season from the Harborside Hotel dock.

“John and Coreen Nicolai have built a wonderful business, and we know they have mixed emotions about retiring,” said James Allen in a recent interview. “We are very excited to be able to continue the work they have started. We are also excited that Ocean Properties has invited us to continue running out of such a world-class facility like the Harborside Hotel.

Captain John Nicolai, center, has sold his Lulu Lobster Boat Ride company to Andy and James Allen of Mount Desert.
ALLEN ASSOCIATES PHOTO

“We are excited to be running a trip out of Bar Harbor.”

Nicolai worked for 20 years in France as a chef before moving to North Carolina, where he ran a yacht detailing business, and then to Gouldsboro.

The current Lulu is the third vessel used in the tours. All three were named Lulu in honor of Captain Nicolai’s mother, Lucie, who his dad affectionately called “Lulu,” according to the company website.

According to the Allens, no major changes are planned in the Lulu’s offerings and itinerary. It has operated locally for 19 years.

Trips can accommodate up to 40 people and run three to four times per day. In addition to pulling traps and showing passengers how lobster fishing works, the tours also include visits to ledges where seals haul out and swings by area lighthouses as well. The vessel and tours have been featured on numerous network television programs.

Although Captain Nicolai operated the boat and narrated the tour at the same time, the Allens said they will probably split those duties between two people.

Tours like the Lulu’s operate with a special class of state lobster fishing license. Called a “demonstration” license, it allows the holder to fish up to 20 traps. Unlike sole-operator tours that operate with a recreational, or part-time, license, none of the lobsters can be kept.

“Everything that’s brought up gets thrown back,” James Allen explained. Crew members can work under the special license to allow them to handle the lobsters as well.

He added that there is a great demand on the part of visitors, especially from bus tours or from cruise ships, for learning more about Maine’s seafaring heritage.

The route followed by Sea Princess cruises out of Northeast Harbor

“Lobstering is such an important part of this community and we love the idea of being able to educate visitors about all that goes into this industry,” Allen said. “Though we touch on lobstering with the Sea Princess, we aren’t set up to actually show what’s it’s like to haul (and) bait traps and how that all works.

“We hope in a small way that by helping visitors to understand the challenges of lobstering that they’ll better appreciate the lobsters that they buy here in Maine.”

The Allens have run the Sea Princess since 2005. It runs from the town dock in Northeast Harbor, out to the Cranberry Islands and up Somes Sound. Wildlife trips with Acadia National Park naturalists, along with sunset excursions, are offered.

“With everything we do with the Sea Princess buying the Lulu was right in our wheelhouse,” James said.

Ensuring a quality visitor experience is the company’s top priority, Andy Allen said.

“As with our other businesses, we are 100 percent committed to the visitor experience, and are only interested in providing top-notch service to our guests.”

Along with the boat trips and fun park, the brothers also sell advertising onto a seasonal visitors map via the Discovery Map franchise.

In early 2016, the Lulu Lobster Boat Ride won an award for outstanding marketing and promotion at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism. In 2015, the Lulu was named one of the top passenger excursion experiences in the world for Holland American Line passengers.

Earl Brechlin

Earl Brechlin

Editor at Mount Desert Islander
Islander editor Earl Brechlin first discovered Mount Desert Island 35 years ago and never left. The author of seven guide and casual history books, he is a Registered Maine Guide and has served as president of the Maine and New England Press Associations. He and his wife live in Bar Harbor. ebrechlin@mdislander.com
Earl Brechlin

Latest posts by Earl Brechlin (see all)