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Carnival, Royal Caribbean cruise ships embark from Baltimore in latest sign of recovery after Key Bridge collapse

Port of Baltimore welcomes back cruise ships for the first time since Key Bridge collapse
Port of Baltimore welcomes back cruise ships for the first time since Key Bridge collapse 02:44

BALTIMORE -- On the cusp of nine weeks since the Key Bridge collapse, the Carnival Pride embarked from Baltimore Sunday on a 14-day journey to Greenland.


 The day before, Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas left Baltimore for Bermuda—exciting for Colonel Estee Pinchasin of the Unified Command.

"Did you guys notice the cruise ship?" she asked reporters with a smile while on a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tour of the recovery efforts on Friday. 

Thomas Sitzler and his friends were onboard the Vision of the Seas to celebrate his partner's 60th birthday. It was important that they leave from Baltimore. 

"Our fingers were crossed the entire time. We knew if we couldn't do this now, there would be another opportunity with Royal Caribbean to do this," Sitzler told WJZ. "The whole plan was to cruise out of Baltimore into and out of the [Chesapeake] Bay because all of these people grew up in the area, and they wanted to see all the sites from the water, so it's super cool we're going to go out this way."

Jonathan Daniels, the Executive Director of the Maryland Port Administration, said the economic impact is more than one million dollars for each ship. He noted more than 440,000 people cruised out of Baltimore last year—the second highest number since 2012–and promised more growth ahead. 

"We hate to see any business leave for any period of time, but certainly thank the flexibility that was out there for the industry,"  Daniels said and referenced the temporary rerouting of cruises to Norfolk, Virginia. 

Signs outside the Cruise Maryland terminal  welcomed back cruisers while tropical music played inside the terminal which served as the Unified Command's headquarters less than a week earlier.

After the Dali was successfully re-floated and removed from the collapse site last Monday, Unified Command packed up and left the cruise terminal, but they still continue working and providing updates on the recovery process. 

"We are here to celebrate the fortitude and the work that was done during the last two months to bring cruising back so quickly," Daniels said. 

After the Dali was removed, the main 50-foot-deep channel could accommodate these larger cruise vessels, but for now, there's only one-way traffic—with the opening of the full 700-foot width pushed back from the end of May until June 8th to 10th. 

"We're very proud of the hard work that our team put in to get to 400 feet across, 50 feet down, which allows any vessel that used to come to Baltimore to come in now," Pinchasin said. 

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