The Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) announced today that a new ship is calling Boston its home. The 2009 cruise season officially starts today, with Norwegian Spirit beginning her series of 21 weekly cruises from Boston to Bermuda. The ship is one of Norwegian Cruise Line’s (NCL) newer and larger vessels. Norwegian Spirit departs weekly to Bermuda on Fridays through September 18, and will also sail a series of four seven-day Canada/New England cruises beginning September 25.

“We are thrilled to have Norwegian Spirit kick off our 2009 cruise season. The new weekly departure on Fridays lets passengers enjoy an un-interrupted weekend aboard the ship,” said Mike Leone, Massport’s Port Director. “Overall, we look forward to this year’s cruise season bringing two new trans-Atlantic voyages, two Caribbean cruises, and several new ship visits to the Port of Boston.”

NCL is known for its Freestyle Cruising® which gives guests the flexibility and freedom to create their own schedules onboard. Norwegian Spirit recently underwent a multi-million dollar refurbishment which improves the guest experience. The 2,018-passenger ship boasts more than 600 ocean view staterooms – more than half with private balconies, eleven restaurants, seven bars and lounges, two pools, extensive children's facilities, a sports deck, casino, and spa.

“Norwegian Spirit offers vacationers a wide range of choices in terms of accommodations, restaurants and amenities,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Chief Executive Officer. “Cruising represents an incredible value and we hope that many New Englanders will take advantage of this value and convenience by sailing with us from Boston this summer.”

Two more ships are based in Boston: Holland America’s Maasdam sails every other week to Montreal, and features the Culinary Arts Center presented by Food & Wine magazine. The center is a state-of-the-art demonstration kitchen for gourmet presentations, tasting events, and cooking classes. Later in the season, Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas cruises from Boston to ports in Canada and New England. Some of her amenities include a rock-climbing wall, indoor/outdoor country club with a golf simulator, and an indoor solarium.

Other highlights in 2009 include trans-Atlantic voyages from Boston. Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 will depart Boston on July 4th for an eight-day crossing to Southampton, England. Also in July, Maasdam offers a 17 and 35-day “Voyage of the Vikings” cruise, and a 42-day “Voyage of the Vikings & Canada New England” trans-Atlantic cruise. In September, Cruiseport Boston will welcome Cunard’s newest ocean liner Queen Victoria, when she makes her maiden call to Boston. And in October there will be Caribbean repositioning cruises on both Norwegian Spirit and Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas. This year Cruiseport Boston anticipates 104 ships and more than 250,000 passengers.