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Provisioning could lead to expansion of waterfront services

When the 2,974 passengers and 1,160 crew members from the Carnival Glory left Portland last night, they took more away from the city than most cruise liners.
While the Boston-based cruise ship was docked in Portland, it got 15 truckloads of supplies loaded onto the ship that would last for the remainder of its voyage.6-6-slide-cruise-ship-1
Loading the supplies for the Carnival Glory marked the first time the Port of Portland had handled provisioning for a ship of that size, and being able to offer that service to cruise liners could result in a new service that could be offered in the city and have a huge impact on the local economy, officials noted.
"The fact we have the ability to do provisioning in Portland opens a door here," said Bob Leeman, the city's public buildings director.
Jack Humeniuk, of Ports of America and the International Association of Longshoremen, said that the Carnival cruise job could position Portland to expand its services to do more provisioning or even become a turnaround port. He said becoming a turnaround port would mean bringing more goods and passengers into the port and the city.
"There's a huge, huge economic value to the area," he said.
Provisioning is when a cruise ships picks up all the supplies that are needed for the rest of its journey. The supply pickup is usually done at the ship's port of departure.
Leeman said some the supplies that were loaded onto the ship came from as far away as Miami, though many were from local vendors.
Being able to offer the provisioning service to the Carnival Glory was a big endeavor, said Leeman.
"It was a lot of people working very hard to make sure it was successful," he said.
Leeman said the port was equipped with most of the tools but the Longshoremen needed to bring in a few extra fork trucks and pull some resources from Boston for the job.
"It was a little challenging," Humeniuk said, but the job was finished a few hours ahead of schedule.
Having ships that pick up their provisions in Portland presents an opportunity for the Longshoreman and businesses, said Leeman, because they receive an extra boost from the cruise ships.
Ships will normally pick up a few pallets while they dock in Portland, said Leeman, but it's mostly incidental items like lobsters and local wares.
It's been nearly three years since the last time the Port of Portland had an opportunity to handle provisioning for a major cruise ship, said Leeman.
On Tuesday, Leeman said, most of what was loaded included produce, frozen food and items for the ship's gift shop. He said it's primarily the supplies the ship will need for its five- to seven-day cruise.
If cruise companies see that Portland is a place for them to get all the provisions for their voyages, Leeman said, it's possible the city could become the main port for these ships. He said that would mean a great deal to the local hotel and restaurant industry because people would stay in Portland before and after the cruise's departures and arrivals at the port.
Leeman said an expansion in the provisioning services would mean more work for the Longshoreman and local vendors that don't have the ability to ship their goods long distances to ports where most cruise ships depart.
"If we can go down that road, it would be phenomenal for the city," he said.
Being able to become a place for provisioning and turnarounds, Humeniuk said, the city's cruise ship season could be extended a couple of extra months. He said as a port of call, the city only has about a two- or three-month season but with more services, the port could accept ships from April through November.
Humeniuk said circumstances forced Carnival to do its provisioning in Portland, but it all worked out. He said the port can now say that it's been done and done well.
"Now we have something we can sell," he said.
Leeman said he's attending a cruise ship symposium in Quebec City next week, and one of the main topics will be provisioning and how the city can offer that service to cruise ship companies. He said Portland has already done it with one of the largest cruise ships that docks in the city's ports, so they can do it for everyone else.
"We can do what they need us to do in Portland, Maine," he said.

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