Reporting Gigi Barnett
BALTIMORE (WJZ)—After four years and a multi-million dollar renovation, one popular cruise ship is back in the Port of Baltimore.
As Gigi Barnett explains, the ship’s return is a sign that Baltimore’s cruise industry is still booming.
She’s Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas, one of the ships that kicked off the Port of Baltimore’s cruise industry nine years ago.
Now, after a $48 million facelift, she’s back.
“It’s wonderful. Everybody should go on that ship,” said Essie Cade, cruise passenger.
“We love being able to just get on the ship and take off,” said Gloria Castle, cruise passenger.
The port’s easy access to and from I-95 draws a record number of passengers every year, making it one of the fastest growing cruise departure points in the nation. It’s number 11, in fact.
“It’s one of the few cruise facilities where you can actually drive and park right next to the ship,” said James White, executive director of Maryland Port Administration.
And the return of the Grandeur adds travel options.
“When they told us they were going to be bringing it back, they said we were going to love what they did with the ship,” said travel agent Paula Dozier.
Dozier says the Grandeur is selling when other cruise lines saw major disasters in recent months.
“People expressed concerns, but we try to explain to them how rare these occurrences have been in the cruise industry. I look at it more like a fluke,” Dozier said.
All of the rooms are renovated. There’s a new and improved entertainment area and a rock climbing wall. Even the pool has been renovated. It also has a 220 square foot movie screen, so passengers can watch movies as they cruise.
Royal Caribbean says those kinds of upgrades bring passengers back time and again.
“If you look at the value in cruising, it’s a great bang for your buck,” White said.
Last year, nearly 250,000 passengers sailed out of the Port of Baltimore on about 100 cruises. This year the port has just as many cruises set to go out at about 96.
The port’s cruise industry brings in about $90 million and 200 jobs to Maryland.