This is prime time for the four cruise ship ports in the Maritimes.

Each autumn day brings thousands of extra visitors to our shores and this year will be one for the record books for the Port of Halifax with more ships and passengers scheduled than ever.

Lane Farguson of Halifax Port Authority said this week there will be 20 ships docking in Halifax and bringing about 36,000 passengers to the city.

Last year, 292,000 people came to Halifax on 173 cruise ships.

“This year, if everything goes according to the schedule we’re looking at about 200 vessel calls and about 300,000 cruise guests and that will be the busiest year that we've ever seen at the Port of Halifax,” Farguson said.

For many passengers, disembarking is soon followed by a bus ride.

“We've just walked along the seaport here, taking a picture of the little lighthouse and we're going to board an excursion to see Peggy’s Cove,” said JoAnn Wolinsky, who is visiting from the United States.

Ambassatours Gray Line is seeing an increase in business.

“We've had an increase over last year, and we’re excited to see that our port is growing every year,” said Paula Foster of Ambassatours Gray Line. “We've got about 20 per cent of our season left to go and approximately 40 ships, so we're still in high gear even though we're actually on the countdown.”

Despite a busy year for cruise ships some shops say they aren't seeing as much business as usual.

“They're pretty good at getting people on those buses and then getting them the heck out of dodge out to Peggy’s Cove and that kind of stuff,” said Kurt Bulger of Jennifer's of Nova Scotia. “And if they don't get them back in time, those people don't have enough time to wander along the waterfront or the city so there's that factor.”

Some businesses next to where the ships dock also aren't seeing an increase in sales.

“Business is a little down for us,” said Ruby James of the Maritime Sunglass Company. “Early in the year was up and then it's kind of fallen off this last week or so.”

It’s not too late for that business to pick up. The last cruise ship of the season doesn't sail from maritime ports until the first week of November.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Natasha Pace.