Last updated: 03:00 AM ET, Tue September 15 2015

Portland, Maine Capitalizing on Growing Cruise Industry

Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | Royal Caribbean International | Patrick Clarke | September 15, 2015

Portland, Maine Capitalizing on Growing Cruise Industry

Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

Portland, Maine hosted its largest cruise ship of 2015 this past weekend when Royal Caribbean International's Liberty of the Seas docked at Ocean Gateway along the city's waterfront on Saturday, bringing more than 5,000 visitors to Maine's largest city, the Portland Press Herald reported.

"It’s a good thing we went ahead and built the berth," Cruise Portland marketing manager Bob Leeman told the Press Herald. "Otherwise we couldn’t get these cruise ships."

Constructed as recently as 2011, Portland's $6 million megaberth Ocean Gateway has made it possible for the city to accommodate larger cruise ships. Prior to its completion, ships like the 1,132-foot Queen Mary 2 had to drop anchor and ferry passengers to the city.

The port will be tested like never before in 2016 when it welcomes Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas, a ship expected to bring 6,000 people to Portland when it calls there next summer.

In all, the ship will make three stops in Portland, highlighting what should be a year of impressive growth. 

The number of cruise passengers descending on Portland has been climbing since Ocean Gateway opened four years ago, but the count is expected to rise by more than 16 percent next year thanks to the arrival of larger ships.

Despite 14 fewer ships arriving next year (88 down to 74), 2016's passenger count is projected at 113,046, up from 97,000 this year, per the Press Herald. 

"Portland is well-positioned to take advantage of growth in the industry by having three viable berths and a top-notch operations team able to serve ships of all sizes," city manager Jon Jennings told the Press Herald via email. "More than marine infrastructure, it’s the city itself that continues to drive demand.

"Development in the Eastern Waterfront, the maturing of the tours and excursion industry, and the continued vitality of the waterfront, Old Port and Arts Districts combine to provide a world class destination that is only getting better," he added. 

While Portland is sure to face stiff competition in the future with more cruise ships and more ports opening up, its recent investment is almost certain to keep it in the mix. 

"It’s a little bit of a game of chance," Leeman told the Press Herald. "But if we didn’t have the berth, we wouldn’t even be in the game."

As a result of the increased demand for Portland and positive feedback from industry officials, Jennings said the city is "actively marketing" itself in an effort to become an origination destination for cruise lines down the road. 


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