By Carol McCracken
The kick-off to this year’s record setting cruise ship season began this morning when the American Glory arrived in Portland Harbor early. It had been expected to stay in Portland until evening, but due to the threat of a storm brewing, the fifty passenger ship changed its schedule and departed east at noon – about eight hours earlier than planned. The American Glory will be in port here in Portland 6 more times this cruise season.
A total number of forty-five ships carrying a record setting 69,892 passengers will be in Portland this summer. Next year, it’s anticipated that the number of cruise ships will jump to another record of sixty-eight ships in port carrying a total of 78,000 passengers – a doubling of ships in just two years, according to Nicole Clegg, city spokeswoman.
Almost any subject relating to the Portland waterfront is controversial. That includes those who support and those who oppose its development into a more income producing location; it depends on whom you speak with. Likewise, the commercial benefit to local businesses from the cruise ship industry is sometimes questioned. Often it depends on what kind of business you talk to in the Old Port. Frequently it is said that too many tourists take buses to L. L. Bean in Freeport and to the Bush estate in Kennebunkport or other tours in the area. (MHN has long believed that if an aquarium or comparable attraction were established on the waterfront, more tourists would remain in the Old Port spending their much coveted dollars.)
An economic impact study of Portland’s 2008 cruise ship season just released reported that passengers spent between $80 to $110 in the Greater Portland area. That in turn generated between $5.8 million and $8 million for the regional economy and created 69 to 95 full and part-time jobs. The study was conducted by two University of Maine, Orono economists, Todd Gabe and Jim McConnon, Jr.
The next cruise ship scheduled to arrive at Portland Ocean Terminal at the bottom of the Hill is the Grand Caribe which arrives tomorrow, July 30 am and departs Friday, July 31st at 2:00 p.m. The Grandeur of the Seas, the first large cruise ship visit this year, will berth at the Maine State Pier August 15 carrying 1,950 passengers.