Four Maine ports from Eastport to Portland hosted cruise ships simultaneously Friday, making it the busiest day ever for the state’s cruise industry, according to the industry marketing group CruiseMaineUSA.
A total of 4,304 passengers and 2,166 crew members visited the ports of Eastport, Bar Harbor, Rockland and Portland.
“It’s a fantastic year for cruising in Maine. It’s taken us 10 years of work to get to this point,” said Amy Powers, director of CruiseMaineUSA. “We have four ports active at once and we’ve never had that before.”
Bar Harbor is the busiest cruise port in the state, with 119 ships berthing this year. Portland follows, with 59 ships. The fall cruise season is the busiest for Maine as “leaf peepers” come to see the foliage.
Cruise visitors were greeted Friday by rain, as well as fog in some areas, according to the Weather Channel.
The leaves were not quite at their peak in the port towns, with “moderate” levels of color in Eastport, Bar Harbor and Rockland, and “low” levels reported in Portland, according to the state’s fall foliage website.
On Friday, Bar Harbor hosted the Jewel of the Seas, with 2,112 passengers and 1,050 crew members, as well as Holland America’s Maasdam, with 1,266 passengers and 602 crew members.
Rockland hosted Oceania’s Regatta, which had 684 passengers and 400 crew members. Portland had smaller ships, the Yorktown and the Independence, while Eastport had the Caledonian Sky.
Portland also hosted one of the largest yachts in the world, the 82-room Rising Sun, which is 453 feet long and cost more than $200 million to build.
The ship was built for Oracle’s co-founder Larry Ellison, and was bought two years ago by David Geffen, a billionaire record executive and film producer who started DreamWorks Studios with Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg.
In 2011, the cruise industry generated 795 jobs in Maine, up 15 percent from 2010, and wages totaling $25 million, according to a study commissioned by the Cruise Line International Association.
Maine had about $45 million in direct spending from the cruise industry last year, a nearly 25 percent increase over 2010, the study found.
Maine industries most helped by cruise ships’ spending in 2011 included business services, government, manufacturing, wholesale and retail, the study found.
Staff Writer Jessica Hall can be contacted at 791-6316 or at: