Cruiseport Boston finished the 2012 season with a record 380,054 cruise vacationers, a 23 percent increase over 2011, the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) announced today. Fueling the surge was Carnival Cruise Lines’ Carnival Glory which began cruising from Boston to Canada in June. 

With a dozen 4-, 5-, and 7-day cruises from Cruiseport Boston to Canada in June and July, the ship contributed some 85,000 passengers to the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal’s yearly count. Many of the passengers came from outside New England, and extended their vacation by staying in local hotels and shopping and dining in Boston.

Carnival Glory’s schedule showed the success of early summer cruising to Canada from Boston. In past years, Canada cruising was centered around fall foliage.

This year, 117 cruise ships docked at Boston, a nine percent increase over 2011. Of that number, 63 started and/or ended their cruise here. For the cruises leaving from Boston, many of the 274,000 passengers came from across the United States, New England, Canada, Europe, and as far away as Australia, and contributed to the local economy by shopping, dining, lodging and sightseeing. In addition to the cruise passengers, more than 100,000 crew members visited Boston.

The 54 other cruise ships stopped in Boston for a day or more to allow their passengers to tour the city and surrounding areas.

“We have a burgeoning cruise industry in Boston, which creates a tremendous economic impact on our local and regional economy,” said Deborah Hadden, Massport’s Acting Port Director.

“The record number of passengers is important because they – along with crew members, and the cruise lines themselves – support local business with every visit. Some of those passengers experienced Boston and Massachusetts for the first time, and many will come back for a longer vacation stay.”

In 2010 Massport completed an $11 million renovation of Cruiseport Boston, which created a new 21,000 square foot departure lounge and enhanced terminal aesthetics. The upgrades also gave Massport the ability to handle embarking and debarking passengers simultaneously. Massport believed the renovations would bring more ships and passengers to Boston.

“Our $11 million terminal renovation investment is certainly paying off by attracting more cruise lines to Boston,” added Hadden.

In addition to Carnival Glory, Cruiseport Boston offered new choices for Canada & New England cruising including Holland America’s Veendam, offering 7-day sailings to Montreal as well as a repositioning cruise to South America via the Panama Canal.

Three luxury lines - Compagnie du Ponant, Seabourn and Crystal Cruises - offered 7 and 10-day voyages to Canada & New England ports. Norwegian Dawn, in addition to regular Bermuda cruises, sailed 7-day itineraries to Quebec. Canada & New England cruises more than doubled in 2012 growing by 119 percent.

During Hurricane Sandy, the Port of Boston served as a safe harbor for three cruise ships riding out the storm at the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal. There were five additional ships destined for New York cruise terminals that diverted to Boston, because the Port of New York was closed. The ships came to Cruiseport Boston to refuel and stock provisions, as well as to disembark and embark passengers. Nearly 9,000 passengers came to Boston on the unscheduled ship visits.

While the vessels were docked, Massachusetts Port Authority Police and cruise terminal operations staff worked around the clock to ensure all of their needs were met throughout their unintended stay in Boston. Massport staff also provided customer service to the stranded passengers including free shuttle bus service to Logan Airport, and tips on what to see and do in the region.

In 2013 cruisers will see more summer cruising options from Cruiseport Boston to Canada. Other highlights include Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas which will replace Jewel of the Seas sailing 7-day roundtrip Canada cruises; Carnival Glory will sail two additional 7-day Canada cruises; Veendam will add eight additional Canada itineraries, and also sail a 35-day trans-Atlantic voyage to Europe. Veendam will also sail a 21-day repositioning cruise to San Diego via the Panama Canal, and Norwegian Dawn will sail additional Bermuda cruises in the month of October, after completing a series of Canada cruises.