Cruising out of Baltimore

As the temperature starts to dip, you might be thinking about making a break for it and heading to warmer weather.  Maybe you’re a veteran cruiser or maybe you’ve never cruised at all before.  Either way, cruising out of Baltimore isn’t only a fun way to vacation, but it couldn’t be easier.  You don’t need to fly to your port city and if you’re lucky, you can have someone drop you off and pick you up at the port.  If not, parking at the cruise port is only $15 per night, which isn’t bad at all.

Until October 12, 2014, Baltimore cruisers have the option of sailing either the Carnival Pride or Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas.  After that date, the only ship sailing out of Baltimore will be the Grandeur of the Seas.  The Carnival Pride sails out of Baltimore and does 7-day Bahamas itineraries that can include the ports of Port Canaveral, FL; Nassau, Bahamas; Freeport, Bahamas; Grand Turk; and Half Moon Cay (Carnival Cruise Line’s private island).

Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas sails a variety of cruises out of Baltimore:

  • 7-day Bahamas cruises that include the ports of Port Canaveral, FL; Nassau, Bahamas; and Coco Cay (Royal Caribbean’s private island)
  • 8-day Bahamas cruises that include the ports of Port Canaveral, FL; Nassau, Bahamas; Coco Cay, and Key West, FL
  • 10-day Eastern Caribbean cruises that include the ports of Labadee (Royal Caribbean’s private “island” in Haiti); San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas, USVI; and Philipsburg, St. Maarten
  • 10-day Western Caribbean cruises that include the ports of Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; Falmouth, Jamaica; and Labadee

Don’t assume that a shorter cruise means a less expensive cruise, but that isn’t always the case.  To determine the most cost effective cruise, take the total cost of the cruise (cruise fare plus taxes and port charges) and divide it by the total number of days in the cruise to determine the daily rate.  For that daily rate you’ll receive your cabin, food, and entertainment and in general, cruises tend to run less than $100 per day for all of this.  When was the last time you went anywhere for less than $100 a day?

Which cruise should you pick?  Start with the dates you’re available and work from there.  If you’ve been to the Bahamas, you might want to try one of the Caribbean sailings if you can take the extra days off.  Many people use the stop in Port Canaveral to visit Disney World or Universal Studios.  I think that’s crazy because you’ll be rushing from the port to Orlando, which is an hour each way and you’ll only have a few hours to run all over either of the theme parks.  You’ll feel stressed and rushed and neither is what you should feel on your vacation.  Why not make that a separate vacation and instead visit Cape Canaveral or stay onboard and enjoy the ship while everyone else rushes around like crazy?

What should you expect from a cruise out of Baltimore? Besides a whole lot of fun, you can expect to be surrounded primarily with people from the Baltimore area and just beyond.  When you sail out of Florida, people generally fly into the port area as well as those that live locally.  But in homeports like Baltimore, you generally get a local crowd.  This can be good or bad, depending on how you might see it.  Good if you like to root for the home team, but bad if you’re trying to get away from too much of the local flavor you’re used to at home.

I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that the waters can sometimes be rocky heading down toward Florida so make sure you’re prepared.  Check with your doctor for “the patch” (Scopolamine or Transderm Scop patch).  This is an effective way to alleviate seasickness, but I always recommend putting it on the day before your cruise starts.  Why?  Some might feel a little drowsy when they first apply it and you don’t want to be tired on the first day of your cruise.  It’s better to feel that at home, don’t you think?  If you don’t want to try the patch, consider Bonine or one of the other over the counter medications or a one of the Psi Bands or wristbands that works on pressure points to alleviate seasickness.  Not everyone gets seasick and if you’ve been seasick once, it certainly doesn’t mean you’ll be seasick again.

Here are some tips for your next cruise out of Baltimore:

  1. When it comes time to board your cruise ship, arrive to the port earlier than later.  Nothing is worse than rushing to board the ship and hoping you didn’t forget anything.  Make sure you have your passport, cruise paperwork, and your credit card for incidentals.  You won’t need your credit card once onboard the ship as your room key will act as your charge card and every purchase goes on the card you provided upon check in.
  2. If you’re cruising during the colder months, consider packing a coat and closed toe shoes, a sweater, etc. with you or leave them in your car.  When your lounging on a hot beach in the Caribbean, you might not appreciate it, but when you return to your car and it’s snowing, you’ll be glad you did.
  3. Don’t forget to put your mail on hold or have someone pick it up in your absence.  You’ll also want to get timers for a few lights in your home so it doesn’t appear that the house is empty.
  4. Don’t forget to shut your phone off unless you like paying high roaming charges.  If you must leave your phone on, turn off your apps and Internet to reduce the cost involved with push notifications, text messages, etc.

There’s no time like the present to plan your next cruise and with the cold winter months already upon us, you shouldn’t put off planning your next trip.  It’ll be great so what are you waiting for?