March 27, 2002
Celebrity launched its inaugural sailing out of Baltimore amid much civic hoopla (its Galaxy will be sailing 10- and 11-day voyages to the Caribbean). But what’s more interesting than just this ship and this city is that these “first time out of regional port” announcements -- in places like New Orleans, Seattle, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Galveston, etc. -- are on the increase as cruise lines are diversifying embarkation options. The goal? To attract what industry wags call a “drive to” passenger -- a traveler who for budgetary or other reasons (skittish about flying) prefers a port that’s within easy driving distance of home.
Baltimore in particular has benefited. The city, traditionally a cargo port, was lucky in past years to get a ship call (that’s one vessel, one day in town) per year (QE2 famously showed up every other year to much pomp and circumstance). This year? Baltimore’s got 40 calls, many of which involve ships that are homeporting for the season.