More cruise lines headed to Baltimore

The Baltimore Sun

Speaking of cruises, did you know Baltimore is becoming a year-round cruise port? After dropping anchor in Maryland a number of years ago, several cruise lines pulled out leaving Maryland cruise fans bereft. But now these same cruise lovers are going to be in heaven in 2009, as several cruise lines have been lured back to Baltimore.

Earlier this year, Carnival announced that the Carnival Pride would offer cruises from South Locust Point in September 2009. Then just last week, the governor's office announced that the Celebrity Cruises ship, the Celebrity Mercury, will begin sailing from Baltimore next November. Those two cruise lines join Norwegian, which returned in June after a 4-year hiatus, and the stalwart Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, which was the port's only operator last year.

A lot of the credit goes to the new $13 million passenger terminal at Locust Point, but there's also a travel trend, called "homeporting," of which cruise lines have certainly taken notice. In other words, it's easier for passengers to take a cruise when they can simply drive to the port, rather than fly.

Next year, more than 60 cruises are scheduled to depart Baltimore - about double the offerings this year. So cruise fans can look forward to an active season at sea in 2009. And 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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