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Cruises to Portland (Maine)

367 Reviews
1 Award
Portland (Maine) (Photo:Sean Pavone/Shutterstock)

About Portland (Maine)

Portland, Maine, is all about lobster. It's hard to imagine this crustacean was once deemed poor man's food, but it's true -- lobsters would wash up on Portland's shores after a storm and be used primarily as fertilizer and bait. But with the advent of land transportation, lobsters were brought inland by the mid-1800's, and as the demand for lobsters increased so did the price. Today, the city boasts numerous restaurants -- all of which feature lobster (in some form) on their menus.

But Portland has more to offer than a bunch of crustaceans. The coastal New England port boasts a vibrant working waterfront, an abundance of Victorian-era architecture and numerous historic lighthouses. Nestled on a picturesque seascape, the city is perched on a peninsula jutting out into the island-studded Casco Bay, protected from the Atlantic Ocean. The romantic movie "Message in a Bottle" was filmed in this seaside town and even the famous Portland-born poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called Portland a "Jewel by the Sea" in one of his poems. The city welcomes close to 50,000 cruise ship passengers annually.

The historic port was once a major shipbuilding center, as well as one of the busiest fishing ports on the Atlantic as far back as the 18th century. Its success as a port made it a prime target for the British during the War of 1812 and also for the Confederates during the Civil War. The coastline and islands are still dotted with forts that were built to protect the city. Ironically, during an Independence Day celebration in 1866, a firecracker ignited a fire that quickly spread across the city's east end, destroying 1,800 buildings.

The city quickly rebuilt, resulting in lovely Victorian-era architecture, and today the Old Port (sometimes referred to as the Old Port Exchange) is a bustling seaport with a high concentration of quality eating and drinking establishments. With less than 67,000 residents, Portland is compact enough for visitors to explore the town thoroughly -- tourists can stroll along the working waterfront of Commercial Street, walk the cobblestone streets of the restored Old Port district, or visit a historic building or two.

What will you remember most from a visit to Portland? Will it be the lobster traps piled on the wharf, the smell of sea air combined with the chatter of seagulls or a visit to a historic attraction? If you're like the majority of visitors, a succulent lobster lunch may be your most savory memory of this New England port.

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  • More about Portland (Maine)

  • Why go to Portland (Maine)?

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Jewel of the Seas
Jewel of the Seas

10 Night
Fall Foliage Southbound CruiseDetails

1,619 Reviews
Leaving:Quebec City
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
Oct 30, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Norwegian Pearl
Norwegian Pearl

7 Night
Canada & New England - OtherDetails

2,351 Reviews
Leaving:Quebec City
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Zaandam
Zaandam Cabins

7 Night
Historic CoastsDetails

535 Reviews
Leaving:Boston
Cruise Line:Holland America Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite
Zuiderdam
Zuiderdam

10 Night
The Atlantic CoastDetails

1,011 Reviews
Leaving:Quebec City
Cruise Line:Holland America Line
Sep 30, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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7 Night
Canada & New England - New YorkDetails

3,749 Reviews
Leaving:New York
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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7 Night
Canada & New England - New YorkDetails

2,888 Reviews
Leaving:New York
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
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7 Night
Canada & New England - New YorkDetails

2,888 Reviews
Leaving:New York
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Aug 27, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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9 Night
Canada & New England CruiseDetails

2,595 Reviews
Leaving:Bayonne
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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7 Night
Canada & New England - BostonDetails

2,351 Reviews
Leaving:Boston
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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11 Night
Canada & New England - OtherDetails

2,080 Reviews
Leaving:Quebec City
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Oct 2, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite

11 Night
Boston, Maine & Canada CruiseDetails

2,399 Reviews
Leaving:Boston
Cruise Line:Celebrity Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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12 Night
Canada / New England CruiseDetails

2,685 Reviews
Leaving:Quebec City
Cruise Line:Princess Cruises
Oct 19, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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9 Night
Canada & New England CruiseDetails

2,595 Reviews
Leaving:Bayonne
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
Aug 24, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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11 Night
Newfoundland & New England DiscoveryDetails

535 Reviews
Leaving:Boston
Cruise Line:Holland America Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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8 Night
Canada & New England - New YorkDetails

364 Reviews
Leaving:New York
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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More about Portland (Maine)

Why go to Portland (Maine)?

Pros:

Fresh lobster and historic landmarks pepper this appealing New England port

Cons:

Come equipped with a windbreaker and some layers for windy or drizzly days

Bottom Line:

Portland offers cruisers a classic taste of the Northeast, from a notable lighthouse to seafood aplenty

Portland (Maine) Cruise Port Facilities?

The terminals are located adjacent to Commercial Street, which runs alongside the waterfront and features restaurants, quaint shops and fishermen at work. A visitor information booth is located just outside the cruise terminal, where you can pick up city maps.

Good to Know?

Although Portland is a fairly safe port, it's always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings and leave unnecessary valuables and cash in your stateroom safe.

Getting Around?

On Foot: It's easy to walk from the ship to shops, restaurants and attractions. While walking around downtown, look for Portland's Downtown District Guides, recognizable in their "outback" hats. They are on the streets of Portland in the summer to help visitors find their way around -- and their services are free! Alternately, 60-minute guided historical walking tours are offered daily at 1:30 p.m., June to September, for $10 per person. (489 Congress Street)



By Public Transportation: Visit Portland at your own pace on the seasonal 8A bus service and the other routes offered by Greater Portland METRO. Convenient stops are within walking distance of museums, galleries, retail shops, restaurants and historic landmarks. Ride all day for $5.

By Trolley: Take a 105-minute narrated trolley tour, passing many popular attractions (adults $22, kids 3 to 12 years $16). Tickets can be purchased at 170 Commercial Street on Long Wharf or online.



By Bike: Rent a bike just outside the Portland Ocean Terminal from Ring's Marine Service for $30 per day or from Cycle Mania, located a few short blocks from the Old Port, for as little as $25 per day (59 Federal Street).



By Car: Although most rental car companies are represented at the Portland Airport, Hertz (207-797-7156) and Enterprise (207-772-0030), open every day except Sunday, also have downtown locations that are just a quick taxi ride away. Rentals start from about $60 per day, and advanced reservations are strongly encouraged.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

There are ATM's and banks located throughout the city. One of the closest ATM's can be found at the Casco Bay Line Terminal adjacent to the Maine State Pier and the cruise terminal at Portland Ocean Terminal (56 Commercial St.). To exchange other currencies into U.S. dollars, TD Bank has regular weekday and limited Saturday hours. (1 Portland Square; Monday to Friday 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.)

Language?

English is spoken in Portland.

Where You're Docked?

Major cruise ships dock at the Portland Ocean Terminal (also known as the Maine State Pier) and the Ocean Gateway Terminal, both on the fringe of the Old Port.


Portland (Maine) Cruise Reviews
Not a lot going on in Portland. DO NOT spend $30 for 2 to ride the Narrow Gauge Railroad…you will be disappointed. Holy Donuts….half mile from ship…YUM.Read More
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laudergayle
This was another pretty port. We did the land and sea tour. The sea portion was amazing. The land portion was dull.Read More
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JSHF
We did a bike ride excursion here. Loved it! It was a three hour excursion - one hour riding, one hour hiking, one hour ride back. The ride and hike were both easy and the views amazing. Read More
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RyTheITGuy
Back in the USA! Everything is near the dock and you can easily arrange for numerous tours either on your own, or through the ship. We opted for a 2 hour ride on a 112-year-old gaff rigged schooner. She was old bRead More
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LDEE

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