Will Baltimore find a new cruise line?

Listen to this article

Only recently did Baltimore learn that Carnival Cruise Line was exiting from the Port of Baltimore.  Despite having a presence in Baltimore since 2009, Carnival says that it is leaving due to economic and environmental reasons.

With new international standards under the North American Emissions Control Area (ECA) requiring oceangoing vessels, including cruise ships, to meet new international standards on burning cleaner, lower sulfur fuel when they are within 200 miles of the Canadian coastline.  Since the ports that are closer to the Canadian coastline are probably the most affected, the ships that sail out of those ports are ones the most affected.

Despite (or perhaps because of) spending $300 million to upgrade their ships after the Carnival Triumph disaster earlier this year, the cruise line isn’t willing at this point to upgrade their ships to meet the new 2015 requirement.  As a result, Carnival isn’t pulling out of Baltimore alone, but also out of Boston, and Norfolk, VA as well.  The last Carnival Pride sailing out of Baltimore will be on November 30, 2014 when she sails from Baltimore to San Juan, Puerto Rico and then moves permanently to Tampa to sail Western Caribbean cruises.

Jamaica: Carnival cruise ship docked at Ocho Rios. (Larry Luxner)
Jamaica: Carnival cruise ship docked at Ocho Rios. (Larry Luxner)

Certainly, with 23 ships in its current fleet, Carnival Cruise Line does dominate the cruise industry and can be picky about where it will position its ships in the marketplace.  However, Royal Caribbean isn’t far behind with 21 ships with four more ships set to debut from 2014- 2016.  With the Grandeur of the Seas ported out of Baltimore year round, cruisers out of Baltimore still have an opportunity to set sail without having to drive or fly somewhere else to go cruising.

Avid cruisers have mentioned and urged other cruise lines, like Norwegian Cruise Line who owns 13 ships, to consider Baltimore.  While this could potentially happen in the future, one needs to remember that the cruise lines do not make their itineraries for one or two months in advance, but for years in advance.

If you were to look at current itineraries for the cruise lines, you would be able to book your future cruise as far out as 2015.  Having said that, it is likely that Baltimore will have one cruise ship in port in 2015, Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas, unless another cruise line makes a big move and decides to add a cruise ship to the Port of Baltimore.

Ribbon cutting time as the the Grandeur of the Seas returns to Baltimore and ships out to the Caribbean. (Jerry Grant)
Ribbon cutting time as the the Grandeur of the Seas returns to Baltimore and ships out to the Caribbean. (Jerry Grant)

Royal Caribbean has pledged to stay in town and for that, Baltimore is one lucky cruise port.  Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, executive vice president of operations, said, “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,” a famous quote from the War of 1812.  Royal Caribbean says it will keep the flag flying on Grandeur of the Seas as long as she’s based out of the city.  The cruise line says the flag means Grandeur of the Seas is back and that vacationers shouldn’t “give up the ship as a vacation option.”

Should Baltimore decide it’s time to court a new cruise line, maybe another cruise line could find Carnival’s departure the perfect opportunity to reposition one of their ships to Baltimore.

In the meantime, enjoy the rest of the time that the Carnival Pride is in Baltimore and consider a cruise on the Grandeur of the Seas out of Baltimore or one of the many other ships available throughout the Caribbean, Alaska, or Mediterranean, and beyond.

2 thoughts on “Will Baltimore find a new cruise line?

  • July 30, 2013 at 12:47 AM

    The North American Emission Control Zone includes the U.S. as well as Canada,
    There is no need to upgrade the vessels to meet the new fuel standards in 2015. All ocean going vessels will be required to use a lower sulfur content fuel starting then.
    Also when the Carnival Pride moves to Tampa in late 2014, I understand it will only be based there for a short period of time, and not permanently.

    • Marian Krueger
      August 1, 2013 at 1:56 AM

      You are absolutely correct that it includes the US as well as Canada. In order to reduce sulfur emissions, ships will need to install and operate scrubbers on their ships. New ship builds will have these already to comply with the regulations. As for the Carnival Pride, via Carnival Cruise Line’s press release, they indicated that the Carnival Pride will be positioned in Tampa from December 2014 until April 2015. As with everything in life and most certainly everything regarding the cruise industry, nothing is ever permanent. Thank you for your comments!

Comments are closed.