– For the third consecutive year, Boston’s cruise business set a new record for passengers using the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal, the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) announced today. In 2009, there were 299,736 cruise passengers traveling through the Port of Boston, an 11% increase over last year.

“The number of passengers we had this year, both those departing on extended cruises and those arriving for day-long port-of-call visits, continues to underscore the strength of the Boston market,” said Thomas J. Kinton, Jr., Massport’s CEO & Executive Director. “The economic downturn has made travelers more selective about how they spend their vacation dollars, and sales in the cruise industry helped spur a 14% increase in travelers who began their cruise in Boston, and an 8% increase in passengers visiting Boston for the day.’’

During the 2009 cruise season, 105 ships called at Cruiseport Boston’s Black Falcon Cruise Terminal, down from 113 in 2008. This year, Norwegian Cruise Line used the newer Norwegian Spirit to sail the Boston-Bermuda itinerary, along with some Canada & New England cruises. Norwegian Spirit is 14% larger than the vessel it replaced and is extremely popular with cruise vacationers.

The record number of passengers this year follows two previous years of solid growth. Cruiseport Boston attracted 234,284 passengers in 2007 and 269,911 passengers in 2008.

This year, Massport introduced more visitor-friendly amenities at the terminal including customer service booths at all three of its Black Falcon berths, staffed by Massport employees. Our employees helped more than 30,000 visitors with options for dining, shopping and sightseeing in and around Boston. Additionally, Massport opened a 75-vehicle cell phone waiting lot a quarter-mile from the cruise terminal. The new lot provides a designated waiting area for limousine drivers and friends and relatives waiting to pick up passengers returning from an extended cruise.

“Our public service outreach efforts provide the opportunity for an initial personal interaction with many travelers getting off the ship,’' said Mike Leone, Director of the Port for Massport. “It is a terrific way to show day visitors what our city and state have to offer. We only have one opportunity to make a good first impression and we hope these visitors will return to Massachusetts for a longer stay.”

Other season highlights included: On July 4, the Queen Mary 2 made her first ever transatlantic voyage from Boston, and in September Cruiseport Boston welcomed her Cunard Line sister-ship Queen Victoria to port for the first time. And in October, Cruiseport Boston welcomed the first of several visits by Italian cruise ship Costa Atlantica. Costa Cruises began a series of Canada & New England cruises between New York and Quebec this fall and Costa Atlantica will visit the Port of Boston regularly next season.

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.