First of 59 summer cruise ships to arrive in Portland on Friday

Posted June 01, 2012, at 5:36 a.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — Portland’s cruise ship season is kicking off with a visit from the first of 59 ships scheduled to visit the port this year.

The Independence, a 215-foot ship owned by American Cruise Line, arrives Friday evening with 98 passengers. It departs Saturday for Boothbay Harbor on the first leg of its seven-night cruise.

Portland officials say 59 ships carrying more than 69,000 passengers and 26,000 crew members are expected to make visits from June through October.