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Business brewing as cruise activity returns following Key Bridge collapse

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Posted at 10:52 PM, May 28, 2024

BALTIMORE — Cruise ship activity is back at the Port of Baltimore; the first ships have left the port since the Francis Scott Key Bridge tragedy.

Business around the port is expected to pick up since cruise ship traffic is back. Mark McClafferty, chief operating officer for Diamondback Brewing Company, sat down with WMAR to talk about it.

"We definitely get a good bit of foot traffic from the people coming to the cruises, whether they're coming from out of town and just looking for a place to walk to, to grab a bite to eat, or grab a beer," McClafferty said.

Diamondback Beer has been a stone's throw from Baltimore's cruise terminal for about a decade; 'Diamondback' comes from the state's reptile, the diamondback terrapin. All its founders went to the University of Maryland.

The brewery hosts excursions for cruise guests and brews and cooks everything on-site.

"That definitely hurt us a lot—just having not as many people coming and checking us out. Also, we've scheduled multiple events with these companies to have official kickoffs. And those obviously stopped as soon as the cruise ships weren't being able to come in," McClafferty recalled.

Over the weekend, the first cruise guests departed Baltimore since the Key Bridge collapse. According to Port Director Jonathan Daniels, last year, more than 440,000 passengers moved through the terminal, the highest in over a decade.

"This is an industry that is not only returning, but is returning and is going to be growing," Daniels said Saturday at a press event.

According to the state, the cruise industry is responsible for over $63 million of Maryland's economy.

Back at the brewery, summer is its busiest season.

"Hoping it just keeps picking back up. I know they're still scheduling cruises to come from the port. We've been busy just naturally, from our own business—whether it be in the neighborhood or other folks checking us out—but it's always really great to get some of that cruise traffic because often times it's people out of town," McClafferty said.

Meanwhile, Unified Command crews are working to fully reopen the channel, restoring it to regular two-way, restriction-free traffic.