For the second consecutive year, the Port of Baltimore has established a record for most cruise passengers handled in one year. The 2,326 passengers that embarked last evening on a nine day Caribbean cruise onboard the Royal Caribbean ship Enchantment of the Seas pushed Baltimore’s 2010 number for embarked passengers to 169,490. That number breaks the record of 167,235 embarked passengers that was set last year.

“Baltimore’s geographic location, entertainment options, and the cruise terminal’s easy access right off Interstate 95 continue to attract passengers in record numbers,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “With even more cruises on the schedule next year, we have every reason to believe that passenger totals will remain strong. This is excellent news for Maryland’s economy and the many jobs associated with the state’s tourism industry.”

The Port of Baltimore will have a record 91 cruises this year. The total economic value to the State of Maryland of cruising from the Port of Baltimore in 2010 is expected to be about $90 million, an increase of about $10 million from 2009 when the Port offered 81 cruises. In 2011, the Port is scheduled to have 112 cruises and will embark approximately 220,000 passengers.

Three cruise lines have operated from the Port of Baltimore in 2010: Carnival, Celebrity, and Royal Caribbean. The Carnival Pride offers year-round cruising to the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas sails from Baltimore to New England/Canada, Bermuda, the Caribbean, and the Bahamas. The Celebrity Mercury offers a winter cruising schedule to the Caribbean and the Bahamas.

The Port of 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. Baltimore is also within a three-hour drive from the New York City metro area. The Cruise Maryland terminal is only 2.5 miles from Baltimore’s world famous Inner Harbor, 10 miles from BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, and little more than an hour from three other major airports.

Maryland’s median household income of $70,545 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.