What Would It Take for California to Lure a New Mega Cruise Ship?

What Would It Take for California to Lure a New Mega Cruise Ship?

PHOTO: Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Wonder docked in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jason Leppert)

By JASON LEPPERT

As a native resident of San Diego, I’ve recently lamented the lack of brand new cruise ships sailing from Californian home ports. Short of some more recent vessels passing through on repositioning cruises on their way to seasonal Alaska, most are older with the newest ships almost always being earmarked for Florida.

So, now I ask this: what could California and nearby destinations do to warrant the latest mega cruise ship sailing from the west coast?

Destinations

From Florida, the Caribbean is the classic destination with access now to countries from Cuba to Mexico, but there’s actually a greater variety leaving from Los Angeles or San Diego, also including Mexico. In fact, itineraries can feature Mexican Riviera, Hawaiian or California Coastal varieties, and, in the case of Holland America Line, some combo voyages feature two different routes consecutively. The bottom line, though, is the Caribbean is a more popular cruise destination than either of California’s accessible trio.

Thankfully, the Mexican Riviera is picking back up after a recent slump when it was perceived as dangerous for a period of time, but a wider selection of individual ports could help further. The number of available stops in the Caribbean is massive compared to frequented Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. Adding to that list, however, are the likes of Acapulco which is also on the rebound and ports in the Sea of Cortez. The problem is that sailings to these areas are often longer than the week long sweet spot for cruise duration.

The solution though might be to feature at least one Sea of Cortez port in combination with fewer of the classic ports as well as developing them all to be more convenient. True of Hawaiian and Californian cities besides those in Mexico is that many can only be visited via tender. If Cabo San Lucas, Catalina or Lahaina, for instance, were to have docks, they would be more enticing to new mega cruise ships. Or perhaps newly developed ports could be an answer as well.

Homeports

The other variable in the equation are turnaround home ports themselves—that is: could San Diego and Los Angeles’ San Pedro and Long Beach handle high volumes of passengers embarking and disembarking?

Carnival is investing in its facility at Long Beach for this very reason to soon accept the larger 3,006-guest Carnival Splendor, but it would take more to be able to process 4,000-passenger-plus vessels like Norwegian Cruise Line’s upcoming Norwegian Bliss heading for Alaska. Seasonally, this new ship would’ve been ideal in California when not north, but it too opted for Florida in the winter.

If the facilities could scale up to support the newest cruise ships in California, there would be plenty of other conveniences to tout, especially in San Diego. The ease of transportation from America’s Finest City is exemplary. Nearly a stone’s throw away from the port is the train station and within only three miles is the international airport. In fact, it’s so close you can watch the planes take off and land from onboard the cruise ships just across the bay.

Ultimately, what would make it happen is a cruise line taking a chance to trust in the “build it, and they will come” philosophy. That is, Florida’s cruise traffic may be less a result of the Caribbean’s popularity and more a result of the newest ships drawing people there. If a cruise line decided to put their latest in California instead and of course the facilities existed to support them, cruise travellers would very likely follow to experience it wherever it goes.

Future ships that might still fit the bill in California are Carnival Cruise Line’s third Vista-class ship, Royal Caribbean International’s fourth Oasis-class ship or even Norwegian Cruise Line’s fourth Breakaway Plus-class ship.

With such a glut of new vessels coming online, surely one of them will eventually have to first make it to California.

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Exclusive Glimpse: Carnival’s Biggest Ever Ship Officially On The Horizon

Carnival Cruise Line has just revealed the very beginning of the construction of their 26th ship in their fleet.

Carnival Horizon will be the second ship in the Vista class, along with Carnival Vista, and will officially arrive early 2018.

The ship is currently under construction at the Fincantieri Marghera shipyard in Italy and is still yet to hit some major construction milestones, including its first float out onto the water and the beginning of the fitting out phase.

Carnival have released images of what guests can expect from Carnival Horizon: below is the Atrium…

carnival atrium

The 4000-passenger, 133,500-tonne cruise ship will offer signature Carnival features along with firsts-at-sea like the IMAX theatre, Skyride- an extraordinary peddled roller coaster bike ride, the biggest SportsSquare sport complex, Havana cabins complex with pool, lounge and individual bar, and Family Harbor staterooms too.

IMAX theatre…

carnival IMAX

 

Havana top view…

carnival havana

 

Havana pool area…

carnival havana

 

The line, long known for its abundance of entertainment, is not holding back on new fun features with Horizon; passengers will find SkyRide onboard, the industry’s first open-air, pedal-powered aerial ride. Riders will climb onboard a hanging bike and cycle their way around the 800ft suspended track, 150 feet above sea level.

An alternative for adrenaline-seekers will be the SkyCourse ropes circuit which will be a part of the SportSquare, along with SkyRide. This will include an indoor hangout, mini-bowling, The Clubhouse, Ping-pong, sports video gaming, arcade basketball and more. Guests can also expect the biggest Carnival WaterWorks park which will include an enclosed Kaleid-O-Slide water tube with 455ft of turns and twists.

The Clubhouse…

carnival clubhouse

 

Families can delve into Camp Ocean where kids of the ages 2-11 can take part in a vast array of activities…

Penguin colony for ages 2-5…

carnival penguin colony

Stingrays for ages 6-8…

carnival stingrays

Sharks for ages 9-11…

carnival sharks

Dr Seuss’ Bookville…

carnival dr seuss

Carnival’s signature Cloud 9 Spa is back…

carnival cloud 9 spa

 

Carnival Horizon offers two main dining rooms, Horizons and Reflections, and seafood lovers will also be pampered with the Seafood Shack. This will be brand new to Carnival fleet and will be a New England-inspired casual eatery located on the ship’s top deck.

carnival seafood

Another option for guests will be Chef’s table, a dining experience that will afford a dozen guests to experience a multicourse dinner with the master chef, private cocktail reception and a tour of the galley. This exclusive option will typically take place in a non-traditional venue, such as the library or the galley.

carnival chefs table

Guests will also find a Bonsai Sushi Bar onboard…

carnival bonsai

 

The Lido Marketplace…

carnival lido marketplace

 

Ji Ji Asian Kitchen…

carnival jiji asian

 

Blelguana Cantina…

carnival bluelguana

 

Pizzeria del Capitano…

carnival pizzeria

Guests can choose from a number of bars, such as the Piano bar…

carnival piano bar

The Red Frog Rum Bar…

carnival red frog rum bar

The Alchemy Bar…

carnival achemy bar

 

Carnival Horizon will debut in March 2018 as the 26th and largest ship in the line’s fleet, together with sister ship Vista and Dream-class vessels Breeze, Magic and Dream.

P&O Cruises Australia Loses Vista Class Newbuilding

P&O Cruises Australia Loses Vista Class Newbuilding

Carnival Corporation has revealed that the new 133,500 gross ton cruise ship, originally designated for P&O Cruises Australia brand, will join Carnival Cruise Line’s fleet in late 2019.

The 4,200-passenger ship, being the third vessel in the company’s Vista class, is currently under construction at Fincantieri’s Monfalcone shipyard in Italy.

The ship’s name, homeport and itinerary details will be announced at a later date, according to Carnival.

Instead of the Vista-class cruise ship, Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Splendor, built in 2008, will be transferred to P&O Cruises Australia in late 2019, the company said.

The first Vista-class ship, the 133,500 gross ton Carnival Vista, was handed over to Carnival Cruise Line in April 2016.

Carnival Cruise Line has now two additional ships joining its fleet – Carnival Horizon, which is scheduled to be delivered in March 2018, and the third, yet-to-be-named Vista-class vessel.

Earlier this year, Carnival Corporation finalized contracts with Fincantieri to build five new cruise vessels, including the one intended for P&O Cruises Australia, as part of a memorandum of agreement signed in 2015.

Including the five new ship orders with Fincantieri, Carnival Corporation has a total of 16 new ships scheduled to be delivered between 2016 and 2020.