Futuristic Quantum-class cruise ship to be largest ever to visit Portland when it arrives in 2015

Posted May 06, 2013, at 3:41 p.m.
This artist's rendition depicts the North Star, a new feature of Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas cruise ship currently under construction. The ship will be the largest to call on Portland when it arrives for the first time in 2015.
Courtesy of Royal Caribbean
This artist's rendition depicts the North Star, a new feature of Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas cruise ship currently under construction. The ship will be the largest to call on Portland when it arrives for the first time in 2015.

PORTLAND, Maine — One of Royal Caribbean’s newly-unveiled Quantum class cruise ships will be the largest ever to call on Portland when it visits Maine’s largest city four times in 2015, according to a city announcement Monday.

News of the scheduled arrival in Portland of the futuristic 1,142-foot-long Quantum of the Seas — 10 feet longer than the city’s previous largest cruise ship visitor and more than twice as long as the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers built at Bath Iron Works — comes a day after Bar Harbor began what is expected to be its busiest cruise season ever and less than a month before Portland welcomes its first ship of 2013.

Quantum of the Seas is one of two new Quantum-class ships Royal Caribbean plans to add to its fleet over the next 18 months, and has a passenger capacity of 4,180.

“The Quantum-class was unveiled by Royal Caribbean last month and features a number of innovations for the cruise line including North Star, a glass capsule that can transport passengers to more than three hundred feet above the ocean and over the sides of the ship,” states a city announcement, in part. “The Quantum of the Seas will embark on its first tour the winter of 2014. The ship will berth at the Ocean Gateway Pier II and is expected replace the Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas calls to port.”

The new vessel is billed as the first at sea to offer bumper cars and simulated sky-diving, as well as a celebrated living and performance space called “Two70” that provides 270-degree panoramic views around the ship.

Quantum of the Seas’ arrival in Portland is made possible by the additional deeper water access provided by the city’s 1,200-foot Ocean Gateway Terminal Pier II — often commonly referred to as the “megaberth” — opened two years ago, city spokeswoman Nicole Clegg confirmed.

Starting with the June 1 arrival of American Cruise Line’s Independence, Portland is scheduled to receive 58 cruise ships carrying 71,255 passengers and 28,016 crew members during the 2013 season.

The upcoming slate of cruise ship visits will bring slightly more people to the city than last year’s. The city of Portland’s 2012 cruise season schedule listed 59 ships carrying about 69,000 passengers and 26,000 crew members.

According to an oft-referenced University of Maine study, the 31-ship season of 2008 generated between $5.8 million and $8 million in the Greater Portland economy and supported between 70 and 110 full- and part-time jobs.

Portland will also serve as home port for two smaller, approximately 100-passenger American Cruise Line ships during the 2013 season. Ships that homeport in Portland resupply in the city, providing additional economic benefit in the form of longshoremen jobs and sometimes the sale of local products to be used on the vessels.

Last June, the nearly 3,000-passenger Carnival Glory used Portland for a trial run loading provisions in a move city officials hope will eventually lead to additional homeport responsibilities for larger cruise ships as well.

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