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Maine readies for robust season and its biggest ship ever

Anthem of the Seas - scheduled to call at Bar Harbor and Portland (Photo: Royal Caribbean)
Maine anticipates 6% growth in bed days, a new cruise line, new homeport calls and its biggest ship ever, Anthem of the Seas, in 2016. The 167,800gt Quantum-class ship is scheduled to call at Portland and Bar Harbor.

'It's an awakening of the state of preparedness we need for the future,' CruiseMaineUSA director Amy Powers said.

The 2016 season has 375 calls spread across the state's cruise ports, and more than 283,000 bed days are projected, 6% higher than last year.

Thirty ships from 20 brands will visit, according to Powers. Azamara Club Cruises calls at Maine for the first time, with Azamara Quest operating a charter. The season will stretch from April 29, when the first ship calls at Bar Harbor, to Oct. 29, with last calls at Bar Harbor and Portland.

Bar Harbor continues as the busiest cruise destination, with 120 calls including five triple ship days, and 27 days with two ships. Five ships will visit for the first time: Anthem of the Seas, Azamara Quest, Oceania Cruises' new Sirena, Hapag-Lloyd's Europa 2 and Holland America Line's Zuiderdam. Bar Harbor is also the state's busiest port of entry, with 30 foreign arrivals requiring US Customs and Border Protection clearance.

The city hosted last summer's Canada/New England Cruise Symposium, which Powers said gave cruise executives the opportunity see where the potential new berths will be located. 'And they got a glimpse into our vision of what the future may be and how we can work together on our common goals,' Powers said.

Portland projects 77 calls and more than 106,000 passengers, with 11 arrivals from Canada scheduled for CBP clearance. Homeport operations continue for American Cruise Lines' Independence and Glory. Maiden calls include Anthem of the Seas, Azamara Quest, Zuiderdam and AIDAmar.

Rockland handles its first homeport operation with Blount Small Ship Adventures' Grande Caribe sailing a pair of 'Two Nation Vacation' cruises between Halifax, Nova Scotia, and back, that also stop at Bar Harbor and Eastport, Maine. Thirty-three calls by six ships of five lines are booked, including American Cruise Lines as the most frequent visitor. Silver Whisper calls for the first time.

Eastport's four calls are divided between Grand Caribe and Pearl Seas Cruises' Pearl Mist, with two of the calls scheduled for CBP inspection on arrival from Canada.

Other Maine ports continue as destinations for American Cruise Lines' Independence and Glory. They are Bath, Boothbay Harbor, Camden, Belfast, Bucksport and Castine.

CruiseMaineUSA also works closely with New Brunswick's Campobello Island and St. Andrews by the Sea in an effort to promote sailings to Passamaquoddy Bay and the Down East Region.            

Powers currently chairs the Cruise Canada/New England Alliance, whose members include Cruise Atlantic Canada, Cruise the Saint Lawrence, Cruiseport Boston and NYCruise.

'We're working on updating our strategic plan for the region,' Powers said. New York, she noted, will host the 18th annual Cruise Canada/New England Symposium, June 7‐9.