Because part of my job is to edit our coverage of Baltimore society galas I get a lot of invitations to a lot of events and I try to attend as many as I can. This is not always possible, however, as I have quite a few other components to my job, which require me to be a desk jockey (fact checking, running the internship program, proofreading, etc.). I always feel guilty when I break away from the office to cover an event during normal business hours. What phone calls am I missing, I wonder? Do the interns have questions? Will there be a mountainous pile of fact checking on my desk when I get back?
So it was with my usual worry and reluctance that I accepted a very gracious offer to attend a media welcome reception aboard the new Carnival Cruise Ship Pride today, but boy am I glad I did. The new 2,124 passenger ocean liner with 16 lounges and bars, three restaurants, four swimming pools, a health and fitness center, a casino, and a wedding chapel will operate out of the Port of Baltimore for at least the next three years, carrying passengers to the Bahamas, the Caribbean, and Florida. It is the first ship to offer year-round cruise departures from Baltimore and officials estimate it will bring $152 million in revenue to the regions as well as 1,550 jobs. Until now the closest ports of departure were in Norfolk, VA and New York City. Astonishingly, rates for seven day cruises can start around $500, less than what you'd spend for a long weekend in Ocean City! Can I get an Amen?
But now on to the really great part. They served today's attendees (who included Sen. Ben Cardin, Rep. Elijah Cummings, and Port of Baltimore first lady Helen Bentley) a five course lunch consisting of spinach salad, scallops and shrimp appetizer, a yummy pasta and vegetable dish, a choice of lobster tail or filet mignon for the main course, and a flourless chocolate cake for dessert. Uh, score one for me!
As I was disembarking to head back to the office, passengers were streaming past me onto the boat for its maiden voyage. They were all decked out in vacation gear—shorts, flip-flops, T-shirts, hats, sunglasses—and I felt a twinge of jealousy, especially when I thought about all the lobster tail in their immediate future.
[Image: courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines]