Carnival Pride calls in Baltimore

The Port of Baltimore is looking at adding another cruise terminal, according to Richard Scher, director of communications for the Maryland Port Administration.

“We’re in the early stages, having internal discussions,” commented Scher. “Cruising from Baltimore has been successful, so, we are looking at the long-term business.”

The port has gone from 27 calls in 2006 to a scheduled 112 for 2011.

“The growth has been phenomenal; we opened up in 2006 with a dedicated terminal that is right on I-95.

“The second terminal would be a bit down the road in the North Locust Point Marine Terminal. We want to keep it as close to I-95 as possible, since most passengers drive here.”

Scher pointed out a public-private partnership agreement signed with Ports America last year for the cargo side of operations, calling it an “industry changing” agreement that is allowing the port to build a new container berth.

Scher added that because of that, they were entertaining a similar option for a second cruise terminal.

“We embarked about 190,000 passengers in 2010 and are planning to embark 220,000 in 2011,” said Scher.

The big increase in calls is mostly due to AIDA, which will have two ships based in the Northeast during the 2011 fall season.

Scher added that Baltimore began year-round cruising in 2009, after serving as a seasonal port for many years.

“We’re positioned in the middle of one of the largest and wealthiest population markets in the U.S. The cruise terminal’s excellent ‘drive-to’ location allows for easy access,” he continued.

The economic impact of the cruise business in Maryland was reported at $80 million in 2009 and $90 million for 2010.

The Port of Baltimore will welcome a new passenger boarding bridge and canopy to enclose the cruise terminal building this year. The passenger boarding bridge will be flexible to accommodate various ships and will be HVAC-ready, added Scher.