The port of Baltimore, Maryland hosts cruise ships throughout the year, providing vacation options to passengers from the East Coast without the hassle of a crowded New York City departure. Royal Caribbean uses Baltimore as a jumping off point to sail to many popular vacation destinations, including the Bahamas, Bermuda and islands of the Caribbean. Shorter fall sailings stay closer to home with trips to New England and Canada on the Crystal Serenity. In the winter, Baltimore is home to luxury costal cruises hosted through Crystal Cruises and American Cruise Lines.
Grandeur of the Seas
Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas makes Baltimore its full-time home. The ship has a capacity of 1,950 passengers and includes all the dining, entertainment and pampering options expected of a four-star ship. CruiseMates.com praises the extensive upgrade the Grandeur received in 2012, including added restaurants and cabins that all have sitting areas which are "cleverly designed to make them feel larger than they actually are."
From May through October, the Grandeur of the Seas alternates between two different round-trip, seven day sailings.
- Bahamas: The Bahamas route includes three sea days with stops in Port Canaveral, Florida; Coco Cay, Bahamas and Nassau, Bahamas. The per-person cost for double occupancy of an inside cabin starts at $649.
- Bermuda: The Bermuda sailings also spend three days at sea and three days in King's Wharf, Bermuda. The per-person cost begins at $760.
From November through April the ship heads to the warm waters of the Caribbean. It alternates between two different ten-day round trips, each available with a per-person cost as low as $749.
- Caribbean Islands: The Caribbean Islands route include five sea days and port stops in Labadee, Haiti; San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands and St. Maarten.
- Mexico: The Mexico route also includes five sea days, along with stops in Cozumel, Mexico; Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands; Falmouth, Jamaica and Labadee, Haiti.
New England and Canada Sailings
Four times annually, in late September and early October, the Grandeur of the Seas heads north. These eight-day, round trip sailings depart on a Thursday and return the following Friday, a rarity in the industry since most cruises depart on Saturday. These sailings start a $859 per person based on a single, inside cabin for two.
The trip offer vacationers a chance to experience New England and Canada on a grand scale. The itinerary includes three days at sea with stops in Portland and Bar Harbor in Maine and the Canadian Ports of Saint John, New Brunswick and Halifax, Nova Scotia. An ocean view or better cabin is recommended for this trip, since the natural scenery is unbeatable.
Once a year, in November, the Crystal Cruises ship Serenity departs from Baltimore for a one-way trip on its way to the warm waters of Miami, Florida. The 11 day journey includes stops in Norfolk Virginia, Charleston South Carolina, and Caribbean islands like Turks & Caicos/Grand Turk, Curaçao/Willemstad and Aruba before returning to Miami. Passengers will need to arrange return transportation from Florida once the cruise ends, since this is a one way sailing.
This luxury ship is five star rated by CruiseCritic.com. It received a complete makeover in 2013 to reflect a casual Southern California (SO-CAL ) beach chic vibe. Since the voyage is a segment from a larger world cruise, the per-person cost can be as low as $3,700 for a deluxe stateroom on deck seven.
American Cruise Lines offers three coastal sailing small ship cruises on American Glory that depart from Baltimore. These are pricey trips, ranging from $3,340 to $7,500 per person.
- The first week of November, American Glory sails round trip to/from Baltimore. This ship has a passenger capacity of only 49 people and claims to have the largest staterooms in the industry. This sailing is a six day cruise, stopping in Yorktown, Williamsburg, and Tangier in Virginia and Crisfield, Cambridge, Oxford, St. Michaels and Annapolis in Maryland. The per-person price is $3,340.
- The second week of each November, passengers can enjoy an eight day, seven night Mid-Atlantic Inland Passage Cruise aboard the Glory, sailing one-way from Baltimore to Charleston, South Carolina along a historic stretch of coastline called the Intercostal Waterway. There are port stops in Norfolk, Virginia, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and Kitty Hawk, Oriental, Morehead City and Wilmington in North Carolina. This sailing is also available departing from Charleston back to Baltimore, so a round trip is possible if repeating ports is not an issue. The per-person price for this particular sailing is $3,860 each way.
- For a longer trip, you can book the entire East Coast Inland Passage Cruise, a one-way journey from Baltimore to Jacksonville, Florida. On this sailing, the Glory stops in the South Carolina towns of Charleston, Beaufort, Daufuskie Island and Hilton Head; the Georgia towns of Savannah, St. Simon's Island and Jekyll Island and Amelia Island, Florida. The cost is $7,500 per person.
CruiseCritic.com, a leading cruise review website gave the ship four out of a possible five stars and praises the "Country-club atmosphere onboard".
Departing From Baltimore, MD
The Port of Baltimore cruise terminal is located in South Locust Point, near Fort McHenry, a port that is nearly 300 years old. It is a short ride from Baltimore/Washington International (BWI) airport. Long term, no-reservation parking is available at the terminal for passengers for about $15 a day. Local cabs, shuttles and limousines are available from the airport to the terminal.
For public transportation options, Amtrak's east coast Acela stops at Baltimore's Penn Station, about five miles from the terminal. Baltimore is known as "charm city" due to the many activities near the waterfront areas. From well known restaurants to shopping and Orioles baseball to a children's museum, there is plenty to do here. Shuttles and water taxis are available for easy exploring.