Carnival expands its itinerary options for Baltimore cruising

Michelle & Karl Teel

The Carnival Pride is the largest crusie ship that can fit under the Key Bridge leaving Baltimore.

Residents in the Maryland/Washington, D.C./Northern Virginia area have been fortunate to have a cruise terminal in Baltimore that eliminates the expense and hassle of a flight to the ship, but the convenience came at a cost of choice. While Carnival and Royal Caribbean each offered a rotation of itineraries from Baltimore, the choices became exhausted for travelers who enjoy cruising. Cruising is always fun, but why not mix it up a bit?

Now, the Carnival Pride will offer longer 10- to 14-day round trip Caribbean cruises from Baltimore, as well as five-day Bermuda cruises. The Pride will also offer one-way San Juan, Puerto Rico, cruises for the 2015-16 season. Other unique six- and eight-day cruises will begin in October 2015.   

“Our guests and travel agent partners have been seeking more varied options from the Northeast — particularly longer length voyages — and we’re delighted to expand our schedules from Baltimore and San Juan to provide these attractive ‘Fun Ship’ cruise offerings from these ports,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival’s president and CEO. “These new voyages not only provide vacationers with an abundance of five- to 14-day cruise choices, but also feature a wide range of spectacular island destinations throughout the Caribbean, Bahamas, and Bermuda.”

The 11- to 14-day San Juan cruises are available as a one-way option from Baltimore, or as part of longer round-trip itineraries in 2015 and 2016. These new voyages offer new ports of call, including Grand Turk, Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, St. Croix, St. Thomas, Antigua, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, St. Maarten, and Martinique, as well as San Juan. Cruisers will still be able to enjoy the ports of Nassau, Freeport, and Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas and Port Canaveral, Fla.

The Carnival Pride is the largest crusie ship that can fit under the Key Bridge leaving Baltimore.
The Carnival Pride is the largest crusie ship that can fit under the Key Bridge leaving Baltimore.

These itineraries greatly increase the opportunities to see new sights and experience new cultures.

Bermuda also becomes a wider option with the Pride’s new five-, six-, and eight-day selections. While Bermuda has been an option from Baltimore in the past, locals can now enjoy a new ship, as well as new dates, to experience the pleasures of this unique destination. It’s not just the pink sandy beaches, historic towns, golf, and other offerings — it’s also the joy of cruising when your ship remains at one port for several days.

With your ship in port as your hotel, you can be more concerned with really enjoying what Bermuda has to offer instead of chasing a clock or deciding between excursions. Now, you’ll be able to do whatever you like.

Shipboard improvements, too

New cruise ports and itineraries aren’t the only news and improvements to report.

Carnival Pride is undergoing a multi-million-dollar makeover to freshen its variety of dining and entertainment innovations, in keeping with Carnival’s Fun Ship 2.0 product enhancement initiative. New features will include: Guy’s Burger Joint, from the Food Channel’s Guy Fieri; Bonsai Sushi, for authentic Asian specialties; the Alchemy Bar and its cocktail pharmacy theme; the Blue Iguana Cantina, featuring Mexican food; the EA Sports Bar, with a 16-monitor video wall and a 24/7 sports ticker; the Red Frog Pub and Rum Bar, serving Carnival’s own private-label draft beer poolside; the Library Bar, with self-service wine dispensers; and a Blue Iguana Tequila Bar. Children, as well as those who are young at heart, will enjoy waterpark upgrades including Green Thunder (the fastest, steepest slide on any cruise ship), the Twister slide, and a water spray park.

Improvements go beyond the ship and its destinations. Carnival Cruise Lines has retained the “Great Vacation Guarantee,” providing consumers with up to a 110 percent refund, free transportation home, and a $100 shipboard credit to use on a future cruise if, for any reason, they are dissatisfied with their vacation. In the past year, since introduction of the program, the guarantee has been invoked just 47 times, despite a whopping 4.5 million guests on 24 ships. No other cruise line offers such a guarantee.

“You are statistically more likely to date a supermodel than you are to invoke the Great Vacation Guarantee,” said Carnival’s Jim Berra. “However, we believe it is important to keep the guarantee in place given its effectiveness in communicating to consumers that we stand behind our product and are extremely confident you will have an exceptional vacation experience when you sail with Carnival.”

Details on the guarantee can found at carnival.com/vacationguarantee, or through any travel agent.     

So, why not give away a cruise as a holiday gift? There are more reasons now than ever before to consider this the ideal gift. For additional information, contact any travel agent, call 800-CARNIVAL, or visit carnival.com.

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