PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- Portland kicked off the busy cruise ship season by welcoming the city's first large cruise ship of the year into port Sunday morning. Grandeur Of The Seas brought with it 2,000 passengers and 800 crew members.

This year, Portland expects to host 103 cruise ship visits, topping the 77 that visited in 2016. Last year, more than 370 cruise ships visited the coast of Maine. Local businesses say the foot traffic from the thousands of cruise ship visitors who come to port is critical to their economic stability and growth. Tourists add, the growing number of schedule options to visit Maine makes it easier to visit vacationland whenever they want.

"Our volume is exponentially higher when a cruise ship is in port," said Bill Frappier, general manager of Portland Discovery Land and Sea Tours, whose business saw 50,000 customers last busy season. " We've increased the number of vehicles, the number of staff, all those things have increased to put ourselves in the position to capitalize on when cruise ships come to Portland."

Joan Sforza and her husband came to Portland on Grandeur Of The Seas Sunday morning, a first for the Virginia-based couple. Sforza said this was the first time she found a ship offering a Spring/Summer season visit.

"This cruise ship offered a June vacation, and rather than come up here in the Fall when it may be too cold, we took opportunity of it."

Sforza commented that she was enjoying exploring the city of Portland, and plans to return to Maine in the future.

Portland's cruise ship season will last into an extra month this year- May to November.