Maine’s cruise ship season began April 23 with the arrival in Portland of Holland America’s Zaandam, carrying about 1,400 passengers. A smaller cruise vessel, the Ocean Navigator of the American Queen Voyages line has been in Eastport with crew only since April 10.
A live, real-time schedule of cruise visits to the state can be found at www.Maine.PortCall.com. The site includes the size of the ship, estimated passengers on board and the upcoming 18 months of scheduled stops in Maine.
“Whenever the first ship arrives, I see a cross-section of Americans and international travelers stepping on shore so happy to be here, many of them seeing Maine for the very first time,” said Sarah Flink, executive director of CruiseMaine. “This piece of Maine’s tourism economy, while relatively small, offers a unique way to bring new visitors from a much more diverse geographic footprint, all while bringing revenue to our cities, towns and small businesses.”
In 2023, Maine is expecting an estimated 454,000 passenger-days from 379 total ship visits across our eight ports, arriving between April 23 and Nov. 10.
In aggregate, these numbers represent a slight increase over 2022, which at the start of last season were projected to include 360 ship visits, with an estimated 450,000 passenger days, where a passenger-day means one passenger being in a Maine port for one day.
Bar Harbor will see a roughly 18% decrease in total passenger days this season over last, due to reduced passenger caps, while Portland, Rockland, and Eastport will see increases this year. The smaller ports that welcome only domestic ships from American Cruise Lines will remain roughly equivalent to 2022 numbers.
Cruise visitation adds over $30 million in economic impact to Maine, supporting the equivalent of over 400 full-time jobs, according to a 2018 study by the Maine Office of Tourism. With over 80% of visitors likely to recommend Maine to family and friends, these visitors also return home sharing stories of the coast’s pristine natural beauty and renowned warm welcome.
Environmental sustainability continues to become more important to cruise passengers, cruise lines, and to the communities they visit. With a stated goal of net zero cruising by 2050 announced by Cruise Lines International Association, ports and cruise lines alike are announcing interim goals and concrete plans to achieve their benchmarks.
In Portland, the city and CruiseMaine have partnered on a transmission feasibility study for shoreside power that would allow cruise vessels to power down their engines and plug in while in port. Eastport is also partnering with the cruise industry to explore bringing shore power to its downtown pier, adding potential draw not only for the passenger season but also for off-season lay ups that would bring in revenue to both the port authority and local businesses.