From Charm City, More Cruises

What's The Deal

April 12, 2009|By MICHELLE DEAL-ZIMMERMAN | MICHELLE DEAL-ZIMMERMAN,michelle.deal@baltsun.com, twitter.com/suntravelblog

OK, cruise fans, it's a year-round showdown here in Baltimore: Carnival vs. Royal Caribbean. Last month, Royal Caribbean International announced it would offer cruises year-round from Baltimore beginning in June 2010.

And to top that off, Royal Caribbean is replacing the Grandeur of the Seas ship, which has sailed from Baltimore since 2004, with the Enchantment of the Seas, a bigger ship that underwent an "extreme makeover" back in 2005, a process that added 73 feet to the ship's length. So, technically, it's not a new ship, but it is more recently updated and has more features (pool, splash deck, bungee jumping, specialty restaurants) and more staterooms than the Grandeur. Royal Caribbean will still offer sailings to Bermuda, the Eastern Caribbean and New England/Canada but in fall 2010 will add nine-night cruises to Florida and the Bahamas (similar to what Carnival is offering this year).

So, a royal treat is in store as Baltimore kicks off the 2009 cruise season later this month. There will be four cruise lines sailing from the Locust Point Terminal this year - Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Celebrity - offering twice as many cruises as in 2008.

Carnival is first out of the port April 27 with a six-day cruise to the Bahamas. To celebrate, the cruise line will host a "Fun City: Baltimore" event at the Inner Harbor on April 25, with acrobatic teams and dancers, sand sculptures, the world's largest beach ball (according to Guinness World Records) and more. The free event runs from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Cruises remain a great value for all-inclusive travel, especially from our home port, which allows us Marylanders to simply park and sail. Now, the only thing left to decide is: Which cruise line will get your business?

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