Norfolk's crescent-shaped marina, initially used as a fort to protect the growing maritime industry during the mid-1700s, is now the site of the city's newest attraction.

The Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center, a $36 million, 80,000-square-foot cruise facility will open April 7 and welcome its first passenger ship April 28. The center will offer East Coast travelers the convenience and accessibility one would expect from a state-of-the-art cruise ship terminal. With sailings from Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean International, the Half Moone, built by the City of Norfolk , will aid vacationers, particularly in the mid-Atlantic region, in traveling to exotic locations such as the Bahamas , Bermuda, the Caribbean and Canada, without having to fly or drive to an inconvenient ship terminal location.

While catering to those within a reasonable driving distance, Norfolk's Half Moone will also provide an estimated 60 percent of passengers, who come from as far away as Florida and Texas , with an embarking location for their cruise destination. Others are expected to come from cities in nearby mid-Atlantic states, such as Richmond, Va., located 90 miles from Norfolk; Washington D.C., which is less than 200 miles away; or Baltimore, Md. and Philadelphia, Pa., both located about 250 miles away. As a result of this growth, Norfolk has equipped the Half Moone with passenger-friendly amenities and designs to make travelers feel at ease and stress-free, including state-of-the-art embarkation (check-in) stations and a separate VIP check-in area.

The Half Moone will also serve as a premier venue for special events offering more than 23,000 square feet of interior event space, including a 13,500-square-foot Half Moone Vista, which will display facts about the original fort and a 1,100-square-foot Bermuda Room equipped with the latest audio/visual capabilities and displaying artifacts and objects that tell the story of the historic connection between Virginia and Bermuda. Outside, the Half Moone will feature a 3,400-square-foot Promenade Deck overlooking the Elizabeth River and a 9,600-square-foot Lido Deck with panoramic views of downtown Norfolk .

The Half Moone is also expected to increase the drive-to cruise appeal of residents in the Midwest , where this kind of accessibility and convenience has not been available to cruise-seeking vacationers before. With an easy-access port from which to disembark, Norfolka's Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center is designed to eliminate the stress of in-between travel, which includes flying or driving long distances in order to access an available harbor.

The following is an itinerary of sailings, slated to disembark from Norfolk's new terminal in 2007:

· April 28, Royal Caribbean International: 7 nights in Bermuda
· May 5, 12, 19 and 26, Royal Caribbean International: 7 nights in Bermuda
· June 2, Royal Caribbean International: 8 nights in Bermuda
· June 9, Carnival Cruise Lines: 6 days in the Bahamas
· June 10, Carnival Cruise Lines: 2-day Cruise-to-Nowhere
· June 16, Royal Caribbean International: 6 nights in Bermuda
· June 30, Royal Caribbean International: 7 nights in Bermuda
· July 7 and 14,Royal Caribbean International: 7 nights in Bermuda
· July 21, Royal Caribbean International: 5 nights in Bermuda
· October 7, Carnival Cruise Lines: 6 days in the Bahamas
· October 13, Carnival Cruise Lines: 2-day Cruise-to-Nowhere
· October 22,  Fed Olson Cruise Line
· October 25, Seabourn Cruise Line
· October 28, Princess Cruise Lines