Royal Caribbean to extend year-round cruises from Baltimore through 2020

Royal Caribbean cruises will continue to sail out of Baltimore through 2020.

Royal Caribbean International cruises will sail year-round out of the Port of Baltimore through June 2020, according to a new contract announced Thursday by the Maryland Port Administration.

Under the renewed contract, Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas, which sails to the Bahamas, Bermuda, the Caribbean, New England and Canada, will continue to offer five-, nine-, and 12-night round trips from Baltimore, and will add a new nine-night cruise to Nassau.

Nearly 200,000 passengers sailed on 90 cruises departing from Baltimore last year, port officials said. The port of Baltimore ranks sixth on the East Coast, 11th in the United States and 20th in the world for cruise passengers.

"Our administration is pleased that Royal Caribbean has made a long-term commitment to Maryland and to the Port of Baltimore," Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement. "Through this partnership, vacationers will continue to have a popular and convenient cruising option that provides a significant boost to Maryland's economy for years to come."

Since the port began its year-round cruise schedule in 2009, nearly every cruise from Baltimore has left at full passenger capacity, officials said.

Officials credit the cruise industry for 220 jobs at the port and as many as 500 across the state. About $90 million is spent on Baltimore-area hotels, dining and entertainment by cruise patrons before and after their trips, the Port Administration said.

Michael Bayley, Royal Caribbean president and CEO, called Baltimore "a fantastic departure point for our guests who live in the Mid-Atlantic States, the northeast and beyond."

"The city continuously provides our guests with a wonderful start to their cruise vacation," he said in a statement.

Royal Caribbean's website listed upcoming cruises on the Grandeur of the Seas to Bermuda with prices ranging from $565 to more than $2,800, depending on dates and accommodations.

The ship underwent a significant $48 million overhaul in 2013 that upgraded dining, technology and entertainment features and renovated its staterooms.

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