Governor Martin O’Malley today praised Royal Caribbean International’s decision to bring the newly renovated Grandeur of the Seas back to the Port of Baltimore in 2013. The ship is currently undergoing a $48 million revitalization that will include many of the company’s most innovative features that are available on its two largest class ships.

The changes will include new dining options and entertainment venues, renovated staterooms and technological upgrades. In returning to Baltimore, the Grandeur of the Seas will offer year-round cruises to the Bahamas, Bermuda, Caribbean, and New England/Canada and replace the Port’s current Royal Caribbean cruise ship Enchantment of the Seas.

“A revitalized Grandeur of the Seas is a valuable asset and Royal Caribbean’s decision to place that asset in Baltimore demonstrates the confidence it has in the Baltimore cruise market,” said Governor O’Malley. “Sitting in the heart of the fourth largest consumer market in the nation, Baltimore, with its excellent cruise facility and great hospitality, has become a favorite of cruise customers throughout the mid-Atlantic and beyond. We look forward to welcoming the new and improved Grandeur of the Seas back to the Port of Baltimore next year.”

The Grandeur of the Seas is the third of Royal Caribbean’s Vision-class ships to undergo massive renovations. It will offer passengers nearly double the total amount of dining options as Enchantment of the Seas, including new venues like Giovanni’s Table (Italian), Izumi Asian Cuisine (Asian and sushi), Park Café (outdoor gourmet market), Chops Grille (steakhouse), and Chef’s Table (an exclusive five-course dinner event co-hosted by the Executive Chef).

In addition to the new dining experiences, the Grandeur of the Seas will have a new Diamond Lounge for its Crown and Anchor guests, a Concierge Lounge for suite and top-tier loyalty guests, and a new Viking Crown Lounge. A new nursery will offer parents childcare drop-off options for children six to 36 months old, and the ship will also add ship-wide Wi-Fi service and an outdoor video screen overlooking the pool deck.

“Royal Caribbean International thanks Governor Martin O’Malley for his administration’s continued support of the cruise industry,” said Adam Goldstein, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International. “The Maryland Port Administration also has been a great partner for many years and we are thrilled to bring the newly revitalized Grandeur of the Seas to Baltimore in 2013 and offer metropolitan area vacationers an array of exciting year-round itineraries along with the best onboard dining and entertainment options in the industry.”

The first cruise of the Grandeur of the Seas from Baltimore will be a May 3, 2013 cruise to Bermuda. The ship will offer six, seven, eight, and 10-night cruises from Baltimore. Until the arrival of the Grandeur of the Seas, the Port of Baltimore will be served by Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas through April 2013.

Last year a record 251,889 people sailed on 105 cruises from the Port of Baltimore. Baltimore has 100 cruises scheduled for 2012. The total economic value to the State of Maryland of cruising from the Port of Baltimore is about $90 million. Approximately 220 direct jobs in Maryland are generated by cruise activity.

The Port of Baltimore handled the fifth-largest amount of cruise passengers among East Coast cruise ports and 12th largest in the U.S. in 2010. Last year the Port began using a state-of-the-art, climate-controlled enclosed passenger boarding bridge. The bridge is mobile and flexible to accommodate various sized cruise ships.

In the last four years, Baltimore has seen a marked increase in its number of cruise passengers. In 2010, 210,549 guests sailed on 90 cruises while in 2009, its first year of year-round cruising, more than 167,000 passengers sailed on 81 cruises. In 2008, about 61,000 people sailed on 27 cruises that operated in the spring, summer and fall.

Baltimore is within a six hour drive of 40 million people. It is the closest East Coast drive-to port from Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Indianapolis and Chicago and is within a three-hour drive from the New York City metro area. The Cruise Maryland terminal is 2.5 miles from Baltimore’s world famous Inner Harbor and 10 miles from BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport.

Maryland’s median household income of $68,845 is the highest in the U.S. Baltimore is also located within a four-hour drive of eight of the ten wealthiest counties in the U.S. The Baltimore-Washington DC-Northern Virginia region is recognized as one of the most affluent in the nation.