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Baltimore will reopen cruise port on Saturday

In:
13 May 2021

We have another positive sign the U.S. cruise industry is moving towards re-opening.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R-MD) announced plans for many restrictions to be lifted from the global health crisis, and that includes re-opening its cruise terminal.

As a result of widespread vaccination efforts and subsequent declines in key health metrics, Governor Hogan believes the time is right for restrictions to be lifted.

Along with many other venues, Maryland is moving to removing capacity restrictions on venues such as outdoor entertainment, art and sports venues as well as indoor entertainment and convention venues.

On Saturday, the Port of Baltimore will reopen its cruise terminal.

“Here in Maryland, our plan is to get everything back to normal by Memorial Day,” said Governor Hogan. “We are making amazing progress toward that goal. But once again, the fastest way to get rid of our damn masks and to put this pandemic behind us once and for all is for every single eligible Marylander to get vaccinated as quickly as possible.”

Following the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) providing cruise lines with new test sailing requirements, Executive Director of the Maryland Port Administration (MPA) William Doyle said he will be working towards a restart of cruises, "the port is a good starting point for the cruise ship industry because the ships that visit Baltimore are a little smaller."

"The MPA will continue working closely with the CDC to get cruising restarted."

Maryland will still require people to wear masks indoors, as well as at outdoor venues. Hogan said he will lift the mask mandate once 70% of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Right now, 65.4% of the state’s adult population has had at least one dose, per state data.

What about other U.S. ports?

Baltimore's re-opening is good news for anyone that cruises from the Mid-Atlantic region, but what is the status of cruise ports around the country?

Many cruise ports are already open again.  Florida's cruise ports have been open and allowing cruise ships to come in for resupply and crew embarkation.

The Port of Galveston has also been open for cruise ships to conduct logistical operations during the shutdown. Last week, two Carnival Cruise Line ships came into Galveston to a flurry of celebrations.

In addition, Florida and Texas cruise ports are allowing cruise ships to get their crew members vaccinated.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D-NJ) announced yesterday he will sign an executive order for the state to formally move forward with what he called New Jersey’s “most aggressive” steps yet to ease coronavirus restrictions next week.

Governor Murphy did not specify the Cape Liberty cruise port in Bayonne specifically in his announcement.

The Port of Los Angeles is ready for the return of cruises, especially the return of Royal Caribbean after more than a decade away.

"Our longtime partners Princess Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Lines will also be resuming their robust schedule," Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka said recently.

"Here at the port, each time a cruise ship calls in Los Angeles, it brings more than $1 million to area restaurants, hotels and businesses," Seroka said. "With Royal Caribbean’s nearly 100 new ship calls, along with our other cruise partners, we expect to add more than $230 million into our local economy in 2022."

Royal Caribbean extends cruises from Baltimore for 4 more years

In:
21 Apr 2016

Royal Caribbean will continue offering cruises from Baltimore, Maryland for another four years.

The Baltimore Business Journal reports that Royal Caribbean signed a new deal with the Maryland Port Administration that will extend its year-round departures out of South Locust Point until June 2020.

Grandeur of the Seas is currently offering year-round cruises from Baltimore to the Bahamas, Bermuda and Canada.

Grandeur of the Seas has been offering cruises from Baltimore since May 2013, when she replaced Enchantment of the Seas.

Taking a Royal Caribbean cruise from Baltimore: What you need to know

In:
01 Feb 2016

Royal Caribbean offers year-round cruises from Baltimore, Maryland and for many on the east coast, this provides a convenient cruise port alternative to flying to Florida.  If you are planning on taking a Royal Caribbean cruise from Baltimore, here is what you need to know about the experience.

Before you go

Whether you are flying or driving to the port, here are some basic tips to consider before you leave your house.

First, be sure to bring your Set Sail Pass as well as passport/photo ID.  These are critical items that will prevent you from going on any Royal Caribbean cruise.

It is also important to have your luggage tags affixed to all of your luggage to ensure a speedy check-in process.  

If you are traveling during the winter months, it is a good idea to keep in your car gloves and coats as well as a shovel in case of a winter storm.

Arriving at Port of Baltimore

Driving to the Port of Baltimore is fairly simple, given its proximity to the major highway of Interstate 95. Use exit 55 to reach the port.

As you drive into the port area, several port staffers will greet you.  If you are driving your own vehicle, here are the steps you can expect to encounter

  1. Staff will check if your luggage has luggage tags. If not, you will be directed to a building to get tags.
  2. Staff will provide a parking paper for the dash of your vehicle if all parties are boarding the ship.
  3. Direct you to luggage porters to check-in luggage.
  4. Pay for parking (left for credit, right for cash).
  5. Proceed left and in front of the terminal building to the adjacent parking lot. As of December 2015, parking was $15 per day and payable in advance.

This process can take around 25 minutes or so to complete, depending on how prepared you are and how busy the port is.

In the terminal

Once you enter the Port of Baltimore cruise terminal, you will be asked for your Set Sail Pas and Passport/Photo ID. 

You will be instructed to drop your luggage at the drive-through kiosk, where porters will instruct you to remove all alcohol - including your allowed 2 bottles of wine. When cruising from Baltimore, they specifically request you carry on your wine through the security checkpoint where they will ask to see each bottle (its not a problem, but they will likely make you take it out of your bag to show them). If you leave alcohol in your luggage, expect your luggage to be flagged for inspection and then you will be responsible to get your bag to your cabin.

Royal Caribbean Crown & Anchor Society members that are Diamond level or above can get priority check-in through security.  All other guests will be directed to form a line as security reviews your documentation.

After the security scanner, you will be asked to fill out the standard health form and then off to the check-in counters. Royal Caribbean Crown and Anchor members also have priority check-in here as well.

The check-in process usually does not take very long and the counters are well-staffed.  

Getting onboard

Be prepared, part of the walking distance from the check-in counter to the ship gangway is outside, albeit covered, inclement weather considerations should be evaluated.

Once you are able to board your Royal Caribbean cruise, there is an option on Grandeur of the Seas to check your carry-on luggage in the South Pacific Lounge on Deck 6 aft (the alternative location for this is Chops Grille, also on deck 6).

Royal Caribbean will hold your luggage until 12:45pm, so you can enjoy lunch and explore the ship before your stateroom is ready at 1pm.

Now that you are onboard, your cruise has begun and you can explore the ship and start enjoying the many amenities and options available to you.

A big thank you to Jodi Shoop for assisting in writing this blog post!

What are your recommendations for anyone taking a Royal Caribbean cruise from Baltimore? Share them in the comments!

Royal Caribbean warns Baltimore port strike could affect Grandeur of the Seas cruise

In:
16 Oct 2013

Royal Caribbean issued a warning today for guests on the October 17 Grandeur of the Seas cruise out of Baltimore, Maryland that their luggage service may be affected.

The longshoremen’s union at the Port of Baltimore is currently on strike. If the strike continues tomorrow, there will be a delay in moving guests’ luggage on and off the ship. 

As a result, Royal Caribbean is asking guests guests scheduled to sail on Grandeur of the Seas on October 17, not arrive at the port before 1:00 p.m. Check in for this sailing will take place between 1:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

The sailing’s departure time will be delayed until 7:00 p.m. to accommodate this event, but it will not impact the scheduled itinerary. 

Royal Caribbean pledges to continue to cruise out of Baltimore

In:
17 Jul 2013

Royal Caribbean is reiterating that it plans to continue to offer cruises out of the port of Baltimore one week after Grandeur of the Seas returned to service.

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, Royal Caribbean's executive vice president of operations, commented on the company's commitment, "We're sticking with Baltimore.  We're back, and we're ready."

Royal Caribbean added a flag to Grandeur of the Seas that reads "Don't give up the ship", which is a famous quote from the War of 1812, and the line says it will keep the flag flying on Grandeur of the Seas as long as she's based out of the city.  Royal Caribbean says the flag means Grandeur of the Seas is back and that vacationers shouldn't "give up the ship as a vacation option."

Recently competitor cruise line, Carnival Cruise Line, announced it was pulling its cruise ships out of Baltimore in 2014, so Royal Caribbean's statement is good news for a city worried about the future of the cruise ship business in their port.

Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas begins year-round service from Baltimore

In:
03 May 2013

Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas arrived today at the Port of Baltimore, Maryland to replace Enchantment of the Seas.  Grandeur will offer six- to 10-night cruises year-round and will offer passenger cruises to Bermuda, the Bahamas and the Eastern and Western Caribbean, as well as Canada and New England.

This is the second time Grandeur of the Seas has been based out of Baltimore.  She previously was deployed to the port from 2004 through 2009.

To celebrate Grandeur of the Seas' return to Baltimore, Governor Martin O'Malley declared May 3, 2013 as "Royal Caribbean Cruise Day" in Maryland.

Grandeur of the Seas is fresh from a $48 million bow-to-stern revitalization, which incorporated six new specialty dining options, technological upgrades and new entertainment features, as well as a refresh of all furniture, carpet, upholstery and staterooms. Families with toddlers can take advantage of the newly installed Royal Babies and Tots Nursery, which caters to the cruise line’s youngest guests, ages six months to 36 months. Guests can also enjoy a 220-square foot poolside movie screen and take in a new high-flying experience whereby aerialists glide through the ship’s six-story atrium.

 “Royal Caribbean International thanks Governor Martin O’Malley and the Maryland Port Administration for their ongoing support of the cruise vacation industry in the great state of Maryland,” said Adam Goldstein, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “Maryland’s rich history and diverse cultural attractions make it an unmatched destination to pair with a Royal Caribbean cruise vacation. We are delighted to mark the beginning of Grandeur of the Seas’ year-round service from Baltimore on ‘Royal Caribbean Cruise Day’ in Maryland.”

Royal Caribbean is offering a variety of  itineraries to Bermuda, the Bahamas and the Eastern and Western Caribbean. In the summer, the itineraries alternate between seven-night Bermuda sailings, featuring a two-night call at Kings Wharf, and seven-night sailings to the Bahamas, calling at Port Canaveral, Florida; Nassau, Bahamas; and CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private island paradise in the Bahamas. In the fall, Grandeur of the Seas will alternate between six-night Bermuda and eight-night Canada and New England sailings. The winter season will consist of rotating 10-night sailings to the Eastern and Western Caribbean, as well as eight-night sailings to the Bahamas.

Port of Baltimore strike not expected to impact Royal Caribbean cruises

In:
27 Dec 2012

Royal Caribbean cruises out of Baltimore are expected to continue despite a potential labor strike at the port.

The International Longshoreman's Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance are working against a December 30th deadline to reach a new labor agreement.  A strike or lockout have been threatened by both sides if a deal is not reached in time.

Cruises would continue under a International Longshoreman’s Association strike. A lockout, however, threatens to shut down all business at the Port of Baltimore.

It is unlikely the International Longshoreman’s Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance reach a deal before Sunday’s deadline, said Douglas N. Wolfe, general manager of Ceres Marine Terminals Inc. at the Port of Baltimore. Ceres employs about 170 cargo and container handlers at the port through the ILA, Wolfe said. 

Wolfe says that the Port of Baltimore will find a way to get passengers and their bags on those cruise shipss even if there is a lockout.

“I don’t see the cruise business being affected,” Wolfe said. “It think people will go on cruises. I know my company is dedicated to getting people to work.”

Mary Joan Levin, owner of the Baltimore-based travel agency Royal Travel Planners, said cruise lines would likely bring in their own workers or fly passengers to other departure ports in case of a lockout.  Either way, she hopes cruising will continue in the face of a possible strike or lockout.

Royal Caribbean bringing Grandeur of the Seas back to Baltimore

In:
17 May 2012

Royal Caribbean is planning on bringing Grandeur of the Seas back to Baltimore to offer year-round cruises in the spring of 2013 after she receives a $48 million renovation.

Grandeur of the Seas had previously sailed out of Baltimore from 2004 to 2009 before being replaced by Enchantment of the Seas.  Once Grandeur arrives, it will replace Enchantment and offer cruises to the Bahamas, Bermuda and New England and Canada..

Baltimore officials are happy with the change since the makeover Grandeur will receive should be an upgrade in terms of ship and it will offer people sailing out of Baltimore similar amenities that can be found in Royal Caribbean's larger ships.

Grandeur of the Seas is set to receive as part of her makeover new dining options, lounges, nursery for children, Wi-Fi service and an outdoor video screen overlooking the pool deck.

Royal Caribbean plans to have the first cruise out of Baltimore on May 3, 2013 to Bermuda.  After, Grandeur will offer six-, seven-, eight- and 10-night cruises.

Royal Caribbean announces new 2012 cruises to Bermuda and North East USA

In:
17 Mar 2011

Royal Caribbean announced new itineraries for 2012 that will sail from Baltimore, Maryland to Bermuda aboard Enchantment of the Seas.

The announcement adds a new set of six-night cruises to Bermuda as well as eight-night Bermuda and Northeast United States cruises that will sail out of Baltimore in the spring and summer of 2012.  Enchantment's new six-night itinerary will make 3-day calls to Kings Wharf, Bermuda

In addition, Royal Caribbean is also planning to send Explorer of the Seas, which is based out of Bayonne, NJ, on a new seven-night round trip cruise in September and October of 2012 that will feature three days in Bermuda.  The new itineraries will include five and nine-night Bermuda & Caribbean itineraries through the spring and summer of 2012.

Adding to the news, Jewel of the Seas will continue its ninth season of sailings out of Boston, MA of roundtrip seven-night Canadian cruises.

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