The Big Ships Came Back!
This restart of an entire sector of tourism was the highlight of the 2022 season for the entire Canada New England region, including Maine.
Early in the year, CruiseMaine focused on helping our ports and our partner cruise lines comply with the U.S. CDC’s Conditional Sail Order for Cruise Operations. This order required every Maine cruise port to have a written agreement with each visiting cruise line, outlining detailed protocols to minimize risk of, and manage any potential outbreaks of, COVID-19. By May, eleven such “port agreements” had been signed by Maine’s four major cruise ports, their visiting cruise lines and the Maine CDC. In mid-July, the CDC ended the requirement for port agreements, but the precedent has been set for having a management plan in place for outbreaks of infectious disease.
The cruise season in Maine ran successfully from April through November, with NO major incidents of COVID-19 outbreak.
Large ships called in Portland, Rockland, Bar Harbor and Eastport.
Small, domestic ships also called in Boothbay Harbor, Bath, Bangor, and Bucksport.
of cruise operations across these
Maine welcomed approximately
cruise passengers plus thousands of crew
rate Maine’s ports as
in terms of providing
of Cruise Passengers are Visiting Maine for the First Time
SHIP VISITS 2012-2022
No Sail Order In Effect
in spending ashore
First time visitors planning to return
will recommend Maine to friends & family
“Daily, I would get the following question regardless of the Maine port I was working in – ‘Where is the best place to get a lobster roll?’”
Destinations North America
Projected vs. Actual
Every season, the actual number of passengers calculated at the end of the season is lower than the projected number at the start of the year. Typically, this difference is mostly due to weather cancellations of ship visits, particularly to Bar Harbor which is an anchor port, but it can also be due to lower than expected occupancy rates, for example, when the cruise industry is recovering from pandemic impacts.
World’s First Battery Powered Hybrid Cruise Ship Comes to Maine
In September, the world’s first battery-hybrid cruise ship, the Roald Amundsen, made its maiden voyage to Maine, visiting three of Maine’s ports. The Hurtigruten vessel is a 459-ft expedition ship launched in 2019. CruiseMaine helped facilitate a tour on board in its first port of call in Maine, Eastport.
The elevated energy cruise tourism brings to the city is vital to all businesses in the downtown Portland area, especially the small businesses that thrive on this seasonal activity. There is nothing we love more than interacting with these visitors who come to explore our unique custom offerings and take home a special piece of Maine.
—Janice Sears, CHART Metalworks
Cruise Canada New England Symposium
In June, Portland was the host city of the Cruise Canada New England alliance’s 22nd annual Cruise Symposium. The 3-day event showcased the greater Portland area’s tourism offerings from Kennebunkport to Freeport. Attendees included eleven of our partner cruise lines, as well as port and tourism colleagues over forty cruise communities from Montreal to New York City. We also hosted panels on itinerary planning and environmental sustainability.
Hosting the CCNE Symposium in Maine, we were able to highlight some of the unique experiences and businesses in our state. Portland, Kennebunk, and Freeport hosted signature events at local businesses and worked with local tour operators so that guests could to experience just some of what Maine has to offer.
Our friends at Visit Freeport put together two unique tour experiences for guests to choose from. The first was a collaboration with Seacoast Tours of Freeport, who brought a small group to the historic landmark of Eagle Island, summer home of Admiral Robert E. Peary. They enjoyed a picnic lunch, and on their way home they stopped to view lobsterman hauling up traps—they even got to pull up some traps themselves while learning about lobstering in Maine.
Another group of guests got to enjoy a tractor ride across the 600 acre farm at Wolfe’s Neck Center. Educators were there to explain the history of Wolfe’s Neck and they made stops along the way to dive in deeper about their sustainable farming practices, climate research, and of course, to say hello to some of the adorable animals. They stopped at the Harraseeket Inn for lunch and had some free time to explore the offerings of Freeport’s historic village, home of the L.L.Bean Flagship Campus, as well as a wide variety of outdoor outfitters, national outlets, local boutiques, and art galleries.
Close but a world away, the Kennebunks are a picturesque seaside community offering natural beauty, history, and culture. Our guests enjoyed a beautiful scenic walk through Dock Square on their way to their first destination—Sea Love, a make-your-own candle boutique, where they got to choose their very own nautical scent. After a morning of candle making they enjoyed lunch at the world famous Clam Shack, after which they made their way to The Burleigh at the Kennebunkport Inn where they got to try their hands at mixology!
Hosting the CCNE Symposium in the heart of Portland allowed us to highlight eight different tours that are available to guests when they visit our historic city. We were lucky to be able to offer a Peninsula Tour with Summer Feet Cycling, Lobstering Excursion with Lucky Catch Cruises, Portland Black History Tour with Portland by the Foot, Portland City & Lighthouse Trolley Tour with Discover Land & Sea Tours, an educational and delicious craft beverage with Brew Cruise, and an Authentic Sailing Experience with Portland Schooner Company.
of cruisers rate
Maine’s ports as
at providing a warm,
to shore are made by passengers and crew resulting in
in direct spending
across the state
per day ashore
rate Maine’s ports as
at providing good
service in shops
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
PORTLAND & BAR HARBOR
Vote on the Future of Cruise
2022 was the year Maine’s two most popular cruise ports – Bar Harbor and Portland – took votes on citizen-initiated ballot measures to dramatically reduce cruise visitor numbers. Although the mechanisms proposed in each community were slightly different, both ballot measures asked residents if they wanted to limit cruise ship disembarkations to 1,000 people per day, in total. The measure failed in Portland but passed in Bar Harbor, by the margins shown below. Just before the close of 2022, the town of Bar Harbor was sued by a group of local businesses as well as the harbor pilots, with claims that the measure is unconstitutional, setting the stage for litigation in 2023.
Shoreside Power for Portland
Shoreside power allows a cruise ship that is docked in port to plug into the local power grid and turn off its engines. As the only port in Maine that ties up large ships, Portland is the best suited for a potential shore power project. The One Climate Future Plan, jointly created by the city of Portland and the city of South Portland, also calls for a feasibility study on shore power for cruise ships.
In June, on the heels of the CCNE Symposium, CruiseMaine convened a shore power kickoff meeting, with representation from two major cruise partners, the city of Portland’s waterfront staff, and the electric utility, CMP. With such strong stakeholder buy-in across the board, it is anticipated CMP will be able to conduct a transmission study for this project beginning in 2023.
Collaboration of the Cruise Canada New England Alliance:
2 New Task Forces
The Sustainability Task Force will work to develop a regional sustainability strategy, including the storytelling component to go with it, both for our local stakeholders as well as our cruise line partners and their clientele.
The Itinerary Task Force will seek to streamline the itinerary planning process used by all ports across the Canada New England region, allowing us to identify bottlenecks and improve efficiency.
Tourism Best Management Practices
CruiseMaine hosted a stakeholder meeting in Portland to discuss best practices among other destinations facing community concerns about congestion and other impacts of cruise tourism, including the Tourism Best Management Practices started by stakeholders in Juneau, Alaska 25 years ago. The goal is to find local leadership for a working group who can help the 2023 season run smoothly.
“It was great having the cruise ships back again in 2022. They provide a huge increase in our lunchtime business. It also provided so much extra foot traffic on the street that we were able to keep the food truck running 3 weeks longer than the previous year.”
—Steve DiMillo, Jr., DiMillo’s On The Water
Thank you to our many stakeholders throughout Maine and our partners across the Canada New England region who continue to support the evolution of cruise as an important piece of Maine’s tourism economy.