Maryland cruise fans are going to be in heaven in 2009. Yesterday, the governor's office announced that Celebrity Cruises will begin offering cruises from Baltimore beginning next fall. The destinations for the Celebrity Mercury ship include St. Thomas, Antigua, Nassau and Key West.

So that makes four big lines - Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity - offering more than nearly 60 cruises from Baltimore next year. Wow, how things have changed from the Baltimore-Bermuda humdrum runs. (We love those, yes, but variety is nice, too.)

If you want to try out the Celebrity Mercury early, the cruise line will be offering a 17-night repositioning cruise from San Diego to Baltimore, via the Panama Canal, next October. Other stops include Mexico, Costa Rica and Colombia. Rates start at $1,499 for an inside cabin (double occupancy). Cruise heaven, indeed.

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(Photo: Celebrity Cruise line's Galaxy ship at the Dundalk Terminal back in 2002)

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