(3:33 p.m. EDT) -- Passengers boarded the long-awaited Pearl Mist cruise ship Tuesday morning in Baltimore, the day before the ship's inaugural sailing. It is the first ship for small-ship line Pearl Seas Cruises, a sister company to American Cruise Lines.
Though Pearl Seas Cruises was created in 2006, with the order for Pearl Mist made the same year for delivery in 2008, a dispute between the cruise line and the ship builder delayed delivery. It took until 2013 for a settlement to be reached and for Pearl Mist to be delivered in a condition the cruise line found acceptable. The ship was then finished at the Chesapeake Shipbuilding yard, another Pearl Seas Cruises sister company.
Pearl Mist will be christened today in a low-key ceremony. No godmother has yet been selected. It will set sail at 7 a.m. Wednesday on a maritime New England itinerary.
The all-suite Pearl Mist can accommodate up to 210 passengers and will sail an assortment of itineraries to the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence Seaway, Canadian Maritimes, New England and the Caribbean. The line is aimed at the luxury expedition market, a relatively small niche that has seen growing interest from consumers who want to get up-close to new and interesting destinations without sacrificing the luxury experience. Cabins are large -- 302 square feet is the minimum -- and fares are inclusive of virtually everything, from gourmet dining to beverages. Excursions offer "light-adventure" options such as hiking, biking or fishing.
--By Dori Saltzman, News Editor