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Portland Maine Cruise Port Guide

Portland Head Light. Credit: Pixabay Creative Commons license
Portland Head Light. Credit: Pixabay Creative Commons license
The Portland Maine cruise port is a place of lobsters and lighthouses for any visitors who want a true New England cruise experience.

The largest city in the state of Maine with a population of 67,000 people is packed with points of interest for cruise visitors.

Large cruise ships dock either at the Portland Ocean Terminal, which is also known as the Maine State Pier, or the Ocean Gateway Terminal. Both of them are right by the historic Old Port.

A good starting point for visitors is the Ocean Gateway Visitor Information Center at 14 Ocean Gateway Pier. It's right by the cruise docks.

Attractions and Shore Excursions

Walking Around Attractions

Cruise passengers can start their visit with a walking tour of Old Port. This revitalized warehouse district is packed with 19th century buildings as well as bars, shops and restaurants.

The Portland Observatory Museum is a half mile from the docks at 138 Congress Street on Munjoy Hill. It is the only remaining maritime signal tower in the United States. It has panoramic views of Portland, Casco Bay, Back Cove and Mt. Washington. Built in 1807, this National Historic Landmark has guided tours that focus on maritime history, the importance of the structure, and Portland history over two centuries. Tours are available from Memorial Day weekend through Columbus Day.

Eastern Promenade, Portland's largest park, is three fourths of a mile northeast of the docks. This 78-acre park has expansive water views, a multi-use trail and Portland's only beach.

Portland's arts district, a one-mile walk from the docks and just beyond Old Port, is home to the Portland Museum of Art, Portland Symphony Orchestra, Children's Museum of Portland, Portland Stage Company and a variety of shops and galleries.

Shore Excursions

Cruise visitors may find that taking a general tour is a good option for seeing everything that Portland and the surrounding area have to offer. The city, founded in 1632, has a variety of historical sights such as Old Port, Victorian mansions, the picturesque Portland Head Light (the oldest lighthouse in Maine, built in 1791) and the seaside town of Kennebunkport.

The cost of the regional tour is usually between $50 and $100 per person depending on the length. Shorter city tours that include the Portland Observatory and Portland Head Light cost about $25 to $30 per person.

Another shore excursion is a bike trip on a popular coastal promenade. It goes to the state park on Mackworth Island. From there, visitors can hike a loop trail.

Boat excursions are common. An easy-going and inexpensive one is aDiamond Pass Run ferry ride among the islands outside of the port. This two-hour tour, which costs about $20 per person, goes through Maine's Inner Casco Bay and past Victorian cottages on the shores of Little Diamond Island, Great Diamond Island and Peaks Island.

Local Weather

Temperatures are comfortable to slightly cool during the peak cruise months of September and October. The average high temperature is about 70 degrees Fahrenheit in September. The average high takes quite a dip to 59 degrees Fahrenheit in October.

October visitors who prefer a little more warmth may want to visit in early October rather than later in the month.

Rainfall also picks up a bit between September and October. In September, the average rainfall for the month is about 3.6 inches. In October, the average is about five inches. It rains on average about one out of every three days during the month.
Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.

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February 17, 2020
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