Sometimes the process of getting away to a place that is warm, sunny and tropical starts with the “hustle and bustle” of navigating through a busy airport, or two or three, depending on the flight itinerary that will get you to your final destination. Other times, getting to that sweet spot in the sand, with crystal clear blue water straight ahead, requires nothing more than a quick drive to the Port of Baltimore, where you can hop aboard one of the massive cruise ships, docked and ready to set sail out of Charm City.
The Port of Baltimore was established over 40 years ago, but the city’s more official mark on the map of east-coast cruise terminals came about in 2006, when Cruise Maryland opened, creating a larger and more robust space for major cruise lines to call home. In 2014, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines’ “Grandeur of the Seas” and Carnival Cruise Lines’ “Carnival Pride” will sail year-round from Baltimore, giving residents of Maryland and the surrounding states a convenient access point for cruising to some of the world’s most sought after vacation destinations.
“Sailing from the Cruise Maryland terminal saves money and time for travelers,” said Cindy Burman, general manager for Cruise Maryland. “It’s an easy, affordable and exciting vacation option, and we pride ourselves on the ease of cruising from Baltimore.”
Passengers who sail from Baltimore can choose from a number of itineraries, with Bermuda, the Bahamas, and the eastern and western Caribbean among the destination points available throughout the year. A limited number of north-bound voyages are also available, taking passengers to hot spots in the New England and Canadian territories during the cooler months. As cruise vacations have grown in popularity, Cruise Maryland has implemented a number of facility and customer service enhancements, to improve the passenger experience and encourage more Marylanders to consider cruising for their next vacation.
“We have in-terminal seating for 1,000 and recently invested in a temperature-controlled boarding bridge to improve passenger comfort and convenience,” said Burman. “We also make parking and luggage handling very easy and convenient. Once you pack your bags into your car, you don’t have to touch them again until you get to your stateroom. It can be as heavy as you want and you can pack as many bags as you need; our porters are great and will take care of unloading them and getting them onto the ship for you.”
The list of benefits associated with choosing a cruise vacation is nearly as lengthy as the itinerary choices. For starters, cruising allows passengers to see multiple destination points, and to experience a diverse range of geographical locations, as opposed to a more traditional vacation that is centralized in one spot. Many are also drawn to the “all-inclusive” nature of the cruise industry, which packages accommodations, unlimited food, entertainment and many on-board activities all together at one price point. Others rave about the flexibility of cruising and all the choices that are available for those long days at sea (a major pro for families or groups with varied interests). While one person may choose to pack their day with activities ranging from rock climbing and dancing, to rolling a few spins on the roulette wheel, another may prefer to kick back and relax at the spa, in a hot tub or with a good book in hand, snuggled up in an ocean-view lounge chair on the top deck of the ship.
“Cruising is the best way to vacation for a family, a couple or a single person because it offers something for everyone, at every level,” said Burman. “You will experience an unbelievable, unforgettable stress-free vacation with excellent entertainment, dancing, spas, shore excursions and of course the best in casual and fine dining, just to name a few reasons why so many people love to vacation this way.”
The Cruise Maryland terminal is located just off Key Highway in Baltimore. For more information and a complete listing of sailings scheduled to depart from Baltimore in 2014, visit the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Port Authority website at www.cruisemaryland.gov.