ROCKLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Summer is winding down, and you may think the means tourist season is almost over, but it's just ramping up for the town of Rockland.

"We really try to roll out the red carpet," Tom Peaco, Executive Director of the Penobscot Bay Area Chamber of Commerce.

It's all hands on deck as Rockland welcomes the first of five cruises bringing more than 12,000 people to town in the next five weeks.

Unlike in Portland and Bar Harbor, the big cruise ships, like Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas, don't start showing up in Rockland until mid-September.

Places like the Grasshopper Shop on Main Street look forward to the September surge, and opened early on Wednesday to accommodate the cruise ship crowds. Welcome balloons and friendly service for the tourists who keep business up as the temperatures start to fall.

"We had our first customer off the ship at about 8:40 so they were ready to come and shop," says Grasshopper Shop owner Sierra Dietz.

Rockland is the cruise ship gateway, but officials say much of the Midcoast benefits. Excursions to other towns leave right from Harbor Park, and return at the end of the day.

The Vision of the Seas returns on September 26th, carrying another 2400 people.