Egg Rock Lighthouse, located between Bar Harbor and Winter Harbor, Maine. (photo via Jennifer Yakey-Ault / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
When thinking of great cruise ports in the U.S., the state of Maine might not exactly come rushing to mind.
With that gorgeous coastline, Maine is actually a natural for the cruise ship industry. At least, it was until the pandemic hit.
But now, for the first time since 2019, cruise ships are returning to the state. Maine is expecting 360 cruise ships to dock this year. That’s down from 408 in 2019, and state officials said they only expect about 60-65 percent capacity on those 360 ships, according to WMTW.
Still, that’s better than the nothing of the last two years.
“Our summer season even surpassed 2019 with nearly $2.5 billion spent in hotels and restaurants in Maine between June and September. We’re back, baby,” Maine Gov. Janet Mills said at the state’s annual tourism conference in Portland.
Between the return of cruise ships, the reopening of the Canadian border and an increased demand for travel, Maine expects a huge increase in tourists.
Canada, in fact, just welcomed cruising back to the country after a pandemic-related suspension.
Now all Maine needs are the workers.
Like many aspects of the travel industry, the state is suffering from staffing shortages at its hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Mills and other government officials are working to increase the number of foreign visas to attract workers who traditionally come to tourist-laden destinations for lucrative summer jobs.
“Historically, we need about 4,000 H2B visa workers to fill all of the positions. The last couple of years we’ve only got about two or three thousand, so there is a void there that needs to be filled,” Steve Lyons, the director of the Maine Office of Tourism, told WMTM.