ELLSWORTH, Maine — People from cruise ships that stopped in Maine spent nearly 20 percent more in 2008 than they did a year earlier, and the revenue is expected to rise this year, according to studies released this week.
On Wednesday, Cruise Lines International Association said the cruise ship industry spent $29 million directly in Maine last year, representing a 20 percent increase over 2007. On Tuesday, researchers with the University of Maine released a study indicating cruise ship passengers spent $5.8 million to $8 million in Portland last year.
Cruise industry-related jobs employed 510 people in Maine and generated $16 million in wages in 2008, CLIA indicated in a statement about its findings.
In 2007, the industry contributed $24 million in direct spending to Maine’s economy, according to the industry group.
Overall, the industry directly spent more than $19 billion nationwide, the CLIA study indicated. Indirectly, the industry generated more than $40 billion in the national economy in 2008, the study said.
Maine’s busiest cruise ship destination is Bar Harbor, which is expected to receive 96 cruise ship visits between mid-May and early November of this year. According to the UM study, 45 cruise ship visits are scheduled for Portland this year and 68 are scheduled so far for Portland in 2010.
The American Glory and the Grande Caribe were scheduled to make ports of call this week to officially kick off the 2009 cruise ship season for Portland. All told a record-setting 69,892 passengers are expected to visit Portland from July to October.
The Grandeur of the Seas, the first large cruise ship to visit this year, will berth at the Maine State Pier on Aug. 15 and drop off some of its 1,950 passengers.
Rockland is expected to get its first large cruise ship visit in recent memory on Oct. 4 when the Royal Caribbean ship Jewel of the Seas is scheduled to drop anchor in Penobscot Bay. Bangor, Belfast, Camden, Castine and Eastport also are stops for small cruise ships during the summer.
Information about how cruise ship industry spending might break down among various Maine ports was not presented as part of the CLIA study results. According to an earlier UM study, in 2005 the cruise ship industry generated $13.7 million in the local economy in Bar Harbor and $6.7 million in Portland’s economy.
According to multiple studies, cruise ship passengers tend to spend $80 to $100 each during their daylong visits in Maine ports. In 2008, when 97 cruise ships visited Bar Harbor, an estimated 144,000 passengers visited the town. Based upon previous spending estimates, these passengers likely spent around $14 million in Bar Harbor and surrounding towns last year.
“The cruise industry continues to be an engine of growth to Maine’s economy and the tourism sector, [which is] the state’s number one industry,” Amy Powers of CruiseMaineUSA said Wednesday in a statement. “Especially during these uncertain economic times, we appreciate more than ever the cruise lines’ sustained economic contributions and job creation capabilities in [about a dozen] Maine communities.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.