Friday, June 6, 2008

Carnival Cruise Lines to Introduce First Year-Round Cruises From Baltimore in 2009

Carnival Cruise Lines is set to launch the first year-round cruise program from the Port of Baltimore with 7-day cruises aboard the 2,124-passenger Carnival Pride beginning in fall 2009. The new program kicks off Sept 13, 2009, and encompasses two different weeklong itineraries departing Sundays from the historic Maryland port. Baltimore’s first year-round cruise program will feature a variety of interesting ports on two distinctly different seven-day itineraries. Exotic Eastern Caribbean departures will call at Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos; the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay; and Freeport, The Bahamas; while Bahamas/Florida departures visit Port Canaveral, FL; and Nassau and Freeport, The Bahamas.

“We’re thrilled to introduce the first year-round cruise program from Baltimore aboard the Carnival Pride, a truly magnificent ‘Fun Ship’ that will visit a wide range of tropical destinations from one of America’s most historic cities,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival’s president and CEO. “Today’s consumers are more value-conscious than ever and considering that Baltimore is within a day’s drive for millions of Northeastern U.S. residents, these new seven-day voyages provide a convenient and affordable vacation option,” he added.

It is expected that the Carnival Pride will carry more than 115,000 guests annually from the Port of Baltimore. Including its new Baltimore-based program, Carnival Cruise Lines will operate from 17 North American departure points, including 11 year-round homeports––the most of any cruise operator. While not a brand-new-to-cruises homeport by any means, Baltimore is somewhat of a "pathfinder" port in the sense that Jacksonville and Mobile were several years ago––moving from a blip on cruise lines' GPS screen to year-around homeports. However, while Jacksonville has graduated from a smaller, older Carnival Holiday-class ship to a Fantasy-class ship, Mobile still boasts the oldest ship in the fleet. The Port of Mobile is no doubt suffering from a case of ship envy right now, but only Carnival's 88,500-ton Spirit-class ships, of which Carnival Pride is one, are fast enough to make the run from a northeastern homeport to the warmth of the Caribbean.

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