Cruise ships dock at the Ocean Gateway terminal on the city's working waterfront. There's a staffed visitor information center at the terminal, and the Old Port shopping district is just across busy Commercial Street. The restaurants and galleries of the Arts District are less than a mile walk through the cobblestone streets of the Old Port.

There are no car rentals available at the terminal, but Portland is compact, and many of its attractions are clustered along the waterfront. Cabs from various companies crowd Commercial Street when ships are in port. Four blocks north, CycleMania (59 Federal St., 207/774–6391) rents bikes starting at $25 a day. The Scenic Route Maine Tours (177 Commercial St., 207/518–3342) sets up just outside the terminal arrival days, offering city and lighthouse tours ($27), half-day trips to the Kennebunks ($50), and hourly shuttles to shopping in Freeport ($30).

Best Bets for Cruise Passengers

Old Port. Go boutique-hopping with a historic New England twist.

Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad. Skirt the city's waterfront in an antique steam locomotive.

Casco Bay. See Portland from the water with an afternoon kayak rental.

Peaks Island. The forested trails of quiet Peaks Island are a scenic ferry ride away.

Eastern Promenade. Explore the beachfront trails of the Eastern Prom or find a shady picnic spot.