The Maryland Port Administration (MPA) today opened a new, 484-space surface parking lot adjacent to its Cruise Maryland terminal. The parking lot opened as the Port of Baltimore welcomed back Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas for its first of 23 Baltimore-based cruises in 2009. The additional parking gives the Port a total of 1,538 available spaces for cruise parking.

“With a record 79 cruises this year, including all-season cruising, we needed additional parking to continue to make the Cruise Maryland terminal a pleasant overall experience for our passengers,” said MPA Executive Director James J. White. “This continues a strong start to our cruise season that has seen our first-ever, year-round cruising program as well as full passenger capacity on each ship that has left Baltimore.”

The new parking lot, which includes 20 spaces for physically-challenged persons, was acquired as part of a 4.7 acre land purchase from the TYCO Corporation to the MPA last year. The purchase of the land, approved by Governor Martin O’Malley and the Board of Public Works, cost $2.4 million.

The Port’s 79 cruises this year will yield an economic impact of about $152 million. In addition to Royal Caribbean, other cruise lines leaving from Baltimore this year include Carnival Cruise Lines, Norwegian Cruise Lines, and Celebrity Cruises. Royal Caribbean has already announced they will expand their cruise program from Baltimore in 2010 by offering all-season cruising onboard a larger ship, the Enchantment of the Seas. Along with Carnival, this will give the Port two year-round cruise providers. The Port will offer 92 total cruises in 2010.

Twice in the past two weeks, the Port of Baltimore has set an all-time cruise passenger record for one sailing. The most recent mark was set on a June 13th cruise onboard the Carnival Pride, as 2,598 people departed the Cruise Maryland terminal bound for the Caribbean.

Almost 47,000 passengers sailed from Baltimore in 2008 when the Port was served by two cruise lines. With four cruise lines this year, the Port expects about 165,000 passengers to debark from the Cruise Maryland terminal.