Carnival AirShip Starts California Tour

AirShip

Carnival’s AirShip has made its debut in Southern California, starting a month-long tour of the state, according to a statement.

The promotion is part of Carnival’s West Coast push, which will see the Carnival Panorama debut out of Long Beach in December 2019.

The 120-foot-long AirShip will fly over and visit culture and entertainment locations across the state throughout January including The Rose Parade: A Showcase of Floats on Jan. 2 as well as sporting events; local schools; Carnival’s homeports in Long Beach on Jan. 5, San Diego on Jan. 13 and San Francisco on Jan. 25; travel agent viewing parties; and select Sky Zone trampoline park locations, Carnival Panorama’s newest all-ages attraction, starting with the Anaheim location on Jan 11.

In conjunction with the AirShip’s California tour, consumers have a chance to win a free cruise as well as additional prizes each week throughout the month of January, Carnival announced.

For anyone who takes a picture of the AirShip and posts it on social media with the hashtag #ChooseFun, Carnival will make a $2 donation to it is longtime charity partner St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital up to a maximum donation of $20,000.

This past summer, the AirShip made its inaugural journey in the southeast U.S. to celebrate the arrival of new ships in multiple homeports.

“The Carnival AirShip was so well received when she debuted earlier this year, and we’re delighted to bring her back to the West Coast to kick-start our year-long celebration of Carnival Panorama. It’s officially go-time!” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “Carnival is the number one cruise line from Southern California. Our AirShip is a great way to let everyone know about the many exciting choices for guests to Choose Fun from the West Coast.”

The Carnival Panorama will debut with a special three-day cruise from Long Beach on Dec. 11, 2019, followed by the launch of year-round, seven-day Mexican Riviera sailings on Dec. 14, 2019.

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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.

Disney hikes NCFs for cruises, drops air commission on tours

By Tom Stieghorst
Disney Cruise Line on Aug. 18 is changing the structure of its non-commissionable fare (NCF), which will raise the amount of fare exempt from commission on most cruises.

Also starting Aug. 18, tour operator Adventures by Disney will no longer pay commission on the air portion of packages. It will continue to book air arrangements.

The new NCF system creates a sliding scale based on cruise length.

Currently, the NCF is a flat $20 per person, per day. Starting next week, the line will deduct $25 per person, per day on voyages of six days or less, and $30 per person, per day on trips between seven and 10 days.

Disney is leaving the amount at $20 for cruises of 11 days or more.

Also at Adventures by Disney, pre- and post-tour stays at non-Disney branded hotels will not be commissionable.

Disney said commissions will be paid on Disney resorts for pre- and post-tour stays related to itineraries in Southern California, China, England and France.