The highly-anticipated cruise ship season is now underway in the Maritimes, with the first ship of 2017 sailing into Lunenburg Monday morning.

This year is expected to be the biggest cruise ship season for the ports of Halifax, Sydney and Charlottetown.

The Halifax Port Authority is expecting 173 visits and 274,000 passengers, including five new ships, four visits from the Queen Mary 2 and a five-ship day in September.      

The Port of Sydney is expecting a 67 per cent increase in ship calls compared to last year. That works out to be 90 visits and 135,000 passengers, which would be its best year yet. The season starts this Sunday.

The Port of Charlotteown's season starts next week, but it's looking forward to its biggest season to date with 83 visits and more than 108,000 passengers. That's 26 more ships and about 42,000 more passengers compared to the 2016 season.

While it's not a record-breaking year for Saint John, the port is expecting an average cruise ship season when the first ship arrives on Thursday – although it will be one of the longest running seasons when it ends Nov. 1. It's expecting 64 ships and 144,000 passengers and crew members.

The ports say they're expecting record breaking seasons thanks to their strong partnerships with local tourism operators, cruise lines and our Maritime port locations.

The Halifax Port Authority says most cruises are planned six months to two years in advance, so the strong U.S. dollar isn’t having a significant impacton passenger numbers.

The ship that arrived in Lunenburg on Monday is the Amadea, a Phoenix Reisen vessel from Germany. The vessel with its 600 passengers ended the day in Halifax around 5 p.m.

This season, the Disney Magic cruise ship will make stops at the four Maritime ports, including an inaugural call in Charlottetown in October.   

The Port of Charlottetown is putting the finishing touches on its renovations, which it hopes will be completed by the time the first ship rolls in on May 1.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Amanda Debison.