In Baltimore, Cindy Burman, cruise manager for Cruise Maryland, has doubled the transit-call business and believes the port can sustain another homeported ship alongside year-round operations from Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International.
Crystal Cruises repeated its 2014 program in 2015, with a partial embarkation and will be back again this year.
“When people see Crystal doing it, they want to come. We’re getting more inquiries,” said Burman.
2016 is shaping up to be a record year, with improved transit volume and full-year operations by Carnival and Royal. Carnival had previously missed the winter of 2014-2015 as it pulled a ship out of the market due to ECA concerns.
The lines are mixing it up too, with new itineraries to drive repeat business out of the port, which is a 90 percent drive-to market, said Burman.
“It’s just easy,” she said of the port’s location. “We are right off Interstate 95, drive in and park your car.”
Maryland supports a strong source market, with three of the richest counties in the country, along with a premium demographic in both Maryland and surrounding states.
“Not only do they (passengers) have the vacation time, but they have the income to pay for cruises,” said Burman.
A number of terminal improvements are underway, with cosmetic upgrades happening, restroom expansion and new kiosks, along with a new VIP lounge, among other things.
“We’re ready for another ship,” Burman continued. “We’re talking to various cruise lines about the options of them coming in with a homeport opportunity. We’re hoping we can capitalize on some of the new ships.”