Saint John set a record for cruise ship passengers by welcoming more than 200,000 tourists in 2010. ((CBC))

The Saint John Port Authority is claiming the city set a new tourism record in 2010 when more than 200,000 visitors stepped off of almost 80 cruise ships.

Jim Quinn, the chief executive officer of the port authority, said the city welcomed more than 20,000 more visitors this year than it did in 2009.

"Last year, we were in around the 185,000-plus mark, this year we will be in around the 205,000 mark," Quinn said.

It's the third year in a row the Saint John port has broken the record for cruise ship passengers, even while other port businesses, like bulk shipping, have dipped in terms of overall traffic.

Quinn said that may be because cruises along the American eastern seaboard and up into the Maritimes have become more popular in recent years.

"We're one of the areas that is benefiting from that trend," Quinn said.

The final cruise ship of the season will dock on Friday.

When the cruise ship season wraps up, Saint John will have welcomed 76 ships and it is estimated that the economic spinoffs in 2010 will total $26 million.

The city also welcomed its 1.5-millionth cruise ship passenger ever on Oct. 6.

Profitable year

The rise in visitors coming from the cruise ship industry has meant a profitable year for some businesses that rely on tourists.

Peter Stoddart owns a restaurant in Market Square and he said the high numbers of cruise passengers have kept his business steady througout the summer and fall tourist season.

"Which I think is good for everybody, especially in today's economic conditions," Stoddart said.

While the restaurant sector may be witnessing a spike in business with the influx of cruise ship passengers, some other Saint John businesses have not reaped the same financial rewards.

Ann Wood, who owns a souvenir shop in the city, said she believes the high Canadian dollar has influenced the cruise passengers' spending habits.

Even though there are more cruise ship passengers, Wood said the tourists are spending less.

"I would say it's because of the American dollar. I mean, it's right at par with ours," Wood said.

"The U.S. economy is really down right now, so, you know, people don't have as much money to spend."