Puerto Vallarta Welcomes Return of Carnival Miracle

Carnival Miracle

The Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board has announced the return of Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Miracle to Puerto Vallarta after a seven-year absence.

Connecting San Diego and Puerto Vallarta, the ship is scheduled to make its first call in December 2019.

For the 2019-2020 winter season, the Carnival Miracle will offer 10 voyages from the Port of San Diego. The schedule kicks off on December 1, 2019, with a seven-day cruise to the Mexican Riviera featuring calls at Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas.

Other cruise lines that sail from San Diego to Puerto Vallarta include Holland America Line and Disney Cruise Line.

For 2018, Puerto Vallarta is projecting 154 calls with 404,734 passengers, up from 145 calls in 2017.

According to the tourism board, calls to the destination are expected to increase annually and Puerto Vallarta’s International Port (API) is committing $22 million for an extensive renovation and construction project to the port infrastructure.

In charge of the project is the local company, Puerto Mágico PV. The work will cover La Hacienda, a new passenger centre, a Tequila distillery, an art gallery, artisan shops, a cultural centre; El Nido, a new commercial centre with a food court, a 400-car parking lot; and what is set to be the biggest aquarium in Latin America. The port will also be accessible to non-passenger, open to visitors and local residents. The project is scheduled to be unveiled before the end of 2018.

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24-day cruise to be longest in Carnival history

Image result for carnival splendor
Carnival Splendor.

Carnival Cruise Line said it plans to offer a 2019 cruise of 24 days, the longest in its 46-year history.

The transpacific cruise is scheduled to depart Long Beach on Oct. 5 and arrive in Singapore on Oct. 30.

The voyage aboard the Carnival Splendor will feature extended port calls in Maui and Honolulu. It will then visit Guam; Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia; and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam — the first time the line has visited these destinations on a ship departing from North America.

Carnival also announced two other longer cruises for 2019 aboard the Carnival Miracle — a 13-day Panama Canal transit from Tampa to Long Beach and a 14-day Hawaii cruise roundtrip from Long Beach.

Why Carnival Panorama’s New Homeport Matters

Carnival Cruise Line commemorates the expansion of the Long Beach terminalPHOTO: Carnival Cruise Line commemorates the expansion of the Long Beach terminal. (photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line)
In a surprise move, Carnival Cruise Line just unveiled that it would be homeporting its upcoming new vessel—the 2019 Carnival Panorama—on the U.S. west coast year-round from Long Beach, California.

This is major news because such a deployment hardly ever happens, though it certainly should.

To give a clear sense of how infrequently Southern California is the base for a brand new cruise ship, it’s the first time Carnival has opted for it in two decades. I was on site at the newly expanded Long Beach terminal over the weekend to hear the news from Carnival President Christine Duffy firsthand, and I was both astonished and delighted.

Norwegian Cruise Line got the ball rolling in part when it announced it would be introducing its upcoming Norwegian Bliss in Alaska. However, it is only going to be there for a few months per year, alternating to the Caribbean in the off-season. In between, it too will be making several stops in Los Angeles for Mexican Riviera roundtrips from the port of San Pedro.

Helping, of course, is a resurgence of interest in Mexico itself. Carnival has always remained committed to the region: Even during the downturn, the brand was sending its Carnival Imagination and Carnival Inspiration on short getaway cruises to Ensenada and its Carnival Miracle farther south on weeklong voyages.

Now that the company has expanded its Long Beach terminal, it has replaced the Miracle with the larger Carnival Splendor for 2018 and will again swap out for the even bigger Carnival Panorama in 2019.

Previously, the east coast was predominantly earmarked for new vessels with hand-me-downs eventually making their way west. The recent Carnival Vista will move to Galveston as this year’s new Carnival Horizon comes to Miami. So if anything, it was expected that California might be next to get the Vista the year after with the Horizon shifting to Texas if the Panorama had gone to Florida.

Instead, the Panorama is going to Los Angeles. I’ve always believed that passengers interested in the latest ships would follow wherever they go—not just to the world’s cruise capital of Miami—and it would seem Carnival agrees.

Best of all, it might only be the start of a trend.

Carnival is also working on an Ensenada development project set for completion in 2020. Very few details have been revealed thus far, but it is said to be a unique dining, retail and attraction complex too, “make Ensenada one of the West Coast’s premier destinations,” according to Carlos Torres de Navarra, Carnival’s vice president, strategic and commercial port development.

Knowing how much vacant space exists pier-side in the Mexican port, that could potentially foreshadow a Grand Turk- or Amber Cove-type environment complete with the likes of a Margaritaville, swimming pool and waterslides immediately off the ship. (If nothing else, one can at least dream.)

It’s also not just Carnival that could follow suit. Plus, only Long Beach and San Pedro as homeports and Mexico and Alaska as destinations have thus been discussed off the west coast. Within the broader Carnival Corporation, Holland America Line is dedicated to departures from my hometown San Diego, with the brand leaving for Hawaii as well. Additional corporate cousin Princess Cruises also features the Cali coast from San Pedro.

These and other companies that call on California (like the Disney Cruise Line) could surely expand west with ever new ships as their fleets continue to grow. Already looking good for the future, cabin categories are selling out on Norwegian Bliss’ L.A. departures.

Should such demand sustain, I predict more fresh ships will follow and start a trend accordingly.