ROCKLAND — U.S. Sen. Susan Collins says a new cruise ship that will carry passengers along the Maine coast highlights the growing importance of cruise ship visitors to coastal communities.

On Sunday in Rockland, Collins christened the American Cruise Line’s ship, The Independence.

The 104-passenger ship will be based in Portland and carry passengers up and down the coast, making stops in several communities, including Rockland.

Collins said that to christen a ship called The Independence on Independence Day was perfect timing.

She says The Independence is a blend of respect for the past and a commitment to a vibrant future.