Governor Martin O’Malley today hailed the decision by Royal Caribbean International to begin year round cruise service onboard a larger ship from Baltimore in June 2010. Royal Caribbean announced today that their 2010 sailing schedule from Baltimore would commence in June as originally planned, but would not end until April 2011. Before this announcement, Royal Caribbean was due to finish their Baltimore sailing schedule in November 2010. Royal Caribbean also revealed it would assign the larger Enchantment of the Seas vessel to sail from Baltimore during the 2010 season.

“Royal Caribbean’s decisions today further reflect how the international cruise industry feels about Maryland as a growing cruise market with lots of potential,” said Governor O’Malley. “Maryland’s Port of Baltimore is within a six-hour drive for 40 million people. Our easily accessible cruise terminal has become a well-known commodity among cruise lines. Maryland’s wonderful attractions, restaurants and hospitality are also no secret. Once again, Maryland has proven its colors.”

The Enchantment of the Seas will replace the Grandeur of the Seas, which has been home ported in Baltimore since 2004. The Enchantment of the Seas began sailing in 1997. It is an 81,500 ton vessel that is 989 feet long, following a 2005 mid-body lengthening project that added an additional 73 feet. The 11-deck ship is equipped with 1,126 staterooms and a total capacity for 2,252 guests. As comparison, the Grandeur of the Seas, which began sailing in 1996, is 74,000 tons and 916 feet long. It has 975 staterooms and can accommodate 1,950 guests. The Enchantment of the Seas also offers a new pool and splash deck, expanded youth programs, and Royal Caribbean’s specialty steakhouse, Chops Grille.

“We've been extremely pleased with the success of our programs in Baltimore over the past five years and the wonderful partnership we've experienced with both the Port of Baltimore and the local travel agent community,” said Diana J. Block, vice president of revenue management and deployment for Royal Caribbean. “All of these factors contributed to our decision to put a larger ship in Baltimore and to extend our program from seasonal to year round. We look forward to continued success in this important community.”

From June 2010 to November 2010, the Enchantment of the Seas will follow the travel itinerary of the Grandeur of the Seas, with port calls to Bermuda, the Eastern Caribbean, and New England/Canada. From November 2010 through April 2011, the Enchantment of the Seas will embark on a new schedule featuring nine-night cruises to Florida and the Bahamas, and 12-night cruises to the Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean also announced that Celebrity Cruises, a subsidiary of Royal Caribbean, would start their 2010 Baltimore sailing schedule in October, a month earlier than planned. Cruises onboard the Celebrity Mercury will continue through February 2011.

The Port of Baltimore begins its 2009 cruise season on April 27 with the first of its inaugural
year round cruises provided by Carnival Cruise Lines. Joining Carnival as a cruise provider from the Port of Baltimore this year will be Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Lines, and Celebrity. The Port of Baltimore will offer 79 cruises in 2009, an increase from 27 in 2008. About 100,000 total passengers cruised to or from the Port of Baltimore in 2008. With four cruise lines in 2009, the Port doubles what it offered in 2008. In 2007, the Port had only one (Royal Caribbean) cruise line.

Today’s news by Royal Caribbean gives the Port of Baltimore a record 92 cruises, including six port calls in 2010. The total economic impact of cruising from Maryland this year is expected to be roughly $152 million. In 2008, the economic impact was nearly $63 million.

The Port of Baltimore is the closest East Coast drive-to port from Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Indianapolis and Chicago. Baltimore is also within a four-hour drive from the New York City metro area. The Cruise Maryland cruise terminal is only 2.5 miles from Baltimore’s world famous Inner Harbor, 10 miles from BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, and little more than an hour from three other major airports.

Maryland’s median household income of $68,040 is the highest in the nation. Baltimore is also located within a four-hour drive of ten of the wealthiest counties in the U.S. The Baltimore-Washington DC-Northern Virginia region is recognized as one of the most affluent in the nation and ranks fourth nationally in retail sales and effective-buying income. The region is also the fourth most populated area in the U.S.