Reporting Kai Jackson
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A major blow for the Port of Baltimore. Carnival Cruise Line is pulling out of Charm City for good, taking millions of dollars and tens of thousands of passengers with it.
Kai Jackson has more on why Carnival is jumping ship.
Carnival says its leaving for economic and environmental reasons.
When Carnival started sailing cruises out of Baltimore in 2009, it was big news for the port, matched by a desire to book cruises from the public.
“It’s one of the highest on board spending ports that we call,” said Jim White, Maryland Port Administration.
But Port administrators were stunned when the cruise line announced that it was severing ties with Baltimore and moving its ship, The Pride, to Tampa, Florida.
A decision that means a loss of jobs and some $45 million a year to the city and Maryland.
“We’re not going to sit idle. We’re going to look to replace that ship,” White said.
Passengers say they love leaving from Baltimore because they don’t pay the airfare that they would pay for ships that leave from Florida and other ports.
“It’s the fact that the ship is leaving from Baltimore. They don’t have to worry about airfare,” said Angela Epps, travel agent.
Carnival says it’s leaving because all oceangoing vessels, including cruise ships, have to meet new international standards to burn cleaner, low sulfur fuel by 2015 within 200 miles of the Canadian coasts.
Northeast ports will feel the mandates more, which is why The Pride is sailing to Florida.
Travel agent Angela Epps says her clients have been calling all day.
“A few people wanted to do group trips for 2015 and they can’t do them now,” she said.
Carnival says it is possible to retrofit some of these ships with scrubbers. They will reduce sulfur emissions. However, that’s an economic cost Carnival apparently isn’t prepared to make at this time. The ship ferries some 115,000 passengers a year.
The last Carnival ship to sail out of the Port of Baltimore is November 20.
In recent years, Baltimore had become the fifth busiest cruise port on the East Coast.