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Port of Baltimore sets record for cruise passengers in 2010

The Port of Baltimore announced Wednesday that it set a new record for cruise passengers in 2010, its second year of offering year-round cruises. Last year, 210,549 people sailed on 91 cruises from the Cruise Maryland Terminal during the calendar year. That number surpasses the record set in 2009 of 167,235 passengers on 81 cruises.

The new record represents about a 25 percent increase in passengers. (Keeping in mind there were an additional 10 cruises.) Still, it's good news for Maryland. The cruises generated about $90 million for the state's economy in 2010, an increase of about $10 million from the previous year, according to the Maryland Port Administration.

"Baltimore continues to make waves as one of the top cruise ports in the U.S.," said Governor Martin O'Malley. "The city's geographic location, entertainment options, and the cruise terminal's easy access right off Interstate 95 continue to attract passengers in record numbers. The Port of Baltimore's cruise business also pumps millions of dollars and generates hundreds of jobs for our state's economy."

Baltimore's main attraction as a port is that it's within driving distance for a lot of travelers. The port ranks 6th on the East Coast and 14th nationally for cruise passengers.

In 2011, the Port of Baltimore will offer 112 cruises on Carnival Pride and Enchantment of the Seas. Both ships offer cruises to Bahamas, Bermuda and the Caribbean. The Celebrity Mercury sails its final cruises from Baltimore in February. The ship will not return next winter season.

Law enforcement officials recently confiscated nearly $100,000 in heroin and cocaine found stuffed in a locker aboard Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas ship docked in Baltimore. Three of its employees were arrested last year on charges related to drug trafficking.

michelle.deal@baltsun.com

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