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High-speed cruise will whisk riders from Inner Harbor to Key Bridge

High-speed cruises could take off from the Inner Harbor as soon as Saturday, according to the head of the company that owns the vessels.

Passengers will be whisked away on a 50-minute tour, heading past Fort McHenry and traveling at speeds up to 30 knots to the Key Bridge, said Steve Dutcher, vice president and general manager of Chicago-based Entertainment Cruises.

Seadog Ventures Inc., a subsidiary of Entertainment Cruises, received final blessing from the city's spending board Wednesday to run the 120-passenger tours.

The Board of Estimates approved a five-year agreement in which Seadog will rent the finger piers between the visitors center and the Science Center for an initial rate of $25,000 annually, rising to $28,000. The company will also pay Baltimore 6 percent of gross revenue above $300,000. There is an option to renew the lease for an additional five years.

The first cruise will embark Saturday if it is not raining, and tours are expected to run each day next week, Dutcher said. The cruises will initially cost $20 for adults and $15 for children, but prices will be slightly raised after Memorial Day, he said.

Entertainment Cruises manages the Spirit of Baltimore and Inner Harbor Spirit ships, and ran the Ride the Ducks amphibious tours until they were docked last year.

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