With Norwegian Cruise Line announcing its first-ever Mexican
Riviera program and Princess Cruises doubling its Hawaii
roundtrips, the Port of Los Angeles is rebounding from the blow it
took earlier this year with Carnival Cruise Lines’ move to Long
“We originally thought we were going to be down 50 percent but
right now we’re looking at probably being down 25 to 30 percent for
2003,” said Chris Chase, marketing manager for the Port of Los
The new seasonal programs announced last week by NCL and
Princess reflect the growing West Coast cruise trend and will add
thousands of arrivals at the World Cruise Center at Los
The arrivals will help bolster the center, which still retains
its ranking as the No. 1 cruise port on the Western U.S. coast, but
estimates its passenger count of 1 million in 2002 to drop to
700,000 to 800,000 this year. “Originally, when Carnival announced
it was leaving, we were very concerned,” Chase said.
“But with the large number of new ships coming onboard, the
shift to the homeland cruising mentality and having the
second-largest population in the country, we were able to leverage
that to get more ships.” Travel agents are welcoming the news.
“The more the merrier,” said Rick Kaplan, president of Cruises
Only in Culver City, Calif. “The more tonnage we get based on the
West Coast, the better it is for West Coast agents.”
Among the recent boosts for Los Angeles, NCL said its Norwegian
Star will operate eight-day cruises from Los Angeles starting Sept.
26, 2004, through April 30, 2005.
Princess, which had scheduled three 15-day Hawaii cruises from
Los Angeles this winter and eight in 2004 and 2005, said last week
that it will now operate 15 departures starting Sept. 21, 2004
through April 19, 2005. The new Island Princess is replacing the
“Princess is going big in Hawaii,” said Dean Brown, executive
vice president of customer service and sales for Princess. “We’ve
been incredibly pleased by the response to our first full program
of Hawaii sailings this year ... so next season we’ll offer twice
as many departures compared to our 2003-04 program.” NCL’s Star,
which has been based in Honolulu since December 2001, will operate
cruises that go all the way to Acapulco.
The journey will take two days at sea, but the Star’s 25-knot
speed makes the itinerary possible.
The Norwegian Star will also call at Zihuatanejo/ Ixtapa as well
as the familiar ports of Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas.
The Norwegian Star, which was prohibited from operating a casino
while in Hawaiian waters, will get a casino after it leaves the
islands next April. Another boost for Los Angeles came when Royal
Caribbean International based its newly renovated Monarch of the
Seas in Los Angeles year-round to operate three- and four-night
The line said the Monarch will be joined Sept. 28 by the Vision
of the Seas, which will operate weekly Mexico cruises through May
Chase said he would like the Vision, or any Royal Caribbean
ship, to remain in Los Angeles year-round for weeklong cruises.
“We’re really trying to work with Royal Caribbean to get a
seven-day ship here year-round,” he said. “That’s one of our areas
of attack now.” But the Port of L.A. now finds itself competing
against Carnival Corp.’s new cruise terminal near the Queen Mary in
Long Beach, the new year-round home of Carnival’s Ecstasy and
The Carnival Corp. family includes Carnival, Princess, Holland
America Line and several other brands. “We’re still competing for
Holland America and Princess business and Carnival too,” Chase
said. “We compete on price, but sometimes it’s just the
availability of a berth. We have three cruise berths and they only
Los Angeles also promotes its latest renovation, a $17-million
project completed last September.