The Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) today announced that the Port of Boston set a record with the most scheduled cruise ships ever to call at Cruiseport Boston’s Black Falcon Cruise Terminal. In 2008 there were 113 ship calls and an increase of 12% over last year. Passenger counts were up by 15% and set a new record of 270,000.

“The record numbers of ships and passengers speak volumes about the cruise business here, and about Boston as a cruising destination,” said Mike Leone, Port Director for Massport. “We are looking forward to the upcoming season, bringing us many new ships and new itineraries.”

During the 2008 cruise season, 113 ships handing 270,000 passengers called at Cruiseport Boston’s Black Falcon Cruise Terminal. The season was bittersweet when Cunard’s iconic Queen Elizabeth 2 made her final port of call to Boston before retiring from service.

This cruise season the 2,000-passenger Norwegian Spirit one of Norwegian Cruise Lines’ newest and largest ships will sail the Boston-Bermuda itinerary, along with some Canada/New England cruises. Norwegian Spirit, with 14% more passenger capacity, replaces the 1,750-passenger Norwegian Dream. The larger ship underscores the popularity of Boston-Bermuda cruising market, and will embark passengers on Fridays.

Other highlights for 2009 include the opportunity for a transatlantic voyage from Boston. Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 will depart Boston on July 4th for an eight-day transatlantic crossing to Southampton, England. And in September, Cruiseport Boston will welcome Cunard’s newest ocean liner Queen Victoria, when she makes her maiden call to Boston. Cruiseport Boston anticipates 106 ships and more than 250,000 passengers.

The Port of Boston’s activity supports 34,000 jobs, and contributes more than $2 billion to the local, regional, and national economies through direct, indirect, and induced impact.