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Baltimore Port to Open Year-Round for Cruise Traffic
Sailing throughout the winter is prompting port authorities to construct a covered walkway and perhaps set up outside heaters for the few moments travelers spend walking to the terminal.
"We're committed to making this a great passenger experience," said Richard Scher, spokesman for the Maryland Port Administration.
Even the state's planners have been surprised by who is driving to Baltimore. Passengers from Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey make up a third of the volume, with travelers from Maryland, Virginia, the District and even Ohio and the Carolinas making up the rest. The growth of Southwest and AirTran, the discount airlines flying into nearby Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport, has brought cruise passengers from Canada and beyond.
State officials are happy to see cruise revenue continue this winter.
"Expanding the Port of Baltimore's cruise program to include cruising year-round has provided a tremendous economic impact to the State of Maryland, especially in such trying economic times," wrote Maryland Transportation Secretary Beverley Swaim-Staley in an e-mail response to a question. She noted that cruise-related jobs have increased and passengers are spending in Baltimore restaurants, stores and hotels.
Karl Teel of Forest Hill, Md., said that driving to the port allowed him to bring his parents, ages 86 and 89, from Towson to join three cabins of children and grandchildren for a trip. "They're too old to handle airports," he said. "This gives them a chance to go to some pretty exotic ports, even when the weather's bad here."
Margaret Engel is director of the Alicia Patterson Foundation.