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As Carnival Cruise Line celebrates the reopening of its expanded terminal in Long Beach, Calif., the brand also has some great news for travel agents selling West Coast itineraries.
The 3,934-passenger Carnival Panorama will debut in Long Beach next year — the first new ship from Carnival to be based in Southern California in 20 years. Panorama, the third Vista-class vessel, will take the place of the 3,006-passenger Carnival Splendor (currently the largest ship operating from Southern California), which is moving from Long Beach to Australia. Between Splendor’s weeklong cruises and the three- and four-night voyages sailed by Carnival Imagination and Carnival Inspiration, the line carries around 600,000 passengers per year from Long Beach. Once Panorama debuts, the company projects that some 730,000 guests will depart from the terminal.
“The expansion of the terminal and arrival of this exciting new ship is great news for the city of Long Beach and underscores Carnival’s longstanding commitment to our community while adding additional opportunities for growing our economy and promoting all that our wonderful city has to offer,” said Robert Garcia, mayor of Long Beach. “Carnival has been an excellent partner for 15 years, and we look forward to working with them for many years to come.”
This is the third recent announcement of megaships on the West Coast from the Big Three cruise lines, with Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Bliss arriving this year and Royal Caribbean International’s Ovation of the Seas coming in 2019. Additionally, MSC Cruises, the fourth largest cruise line, has repeatedly noted that it is a matter of when — not if — the company will send a ship to the West Coast.
Panorama’s first sailings out of Long Beach — which will begin in December 2019 — will be available for booking later this month.
The ship will feature Vista-class signatures such as the 800-foot-long SkyRide aerial bike track, the giant WaterWorks aqua park, the SportSquare recreation area and outdoor ropes courses.
Likewise, the new vessel will offer signature dining venues including Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse, Library Bar and Bonsai Sushi. It will also feature the Vista-class ships’ special accommodation categories of Havana Cabana, with tropical decor and a Cuban-themed bar and pool, and colorful Family Harbor, with a dedicated lounge, complimentary breakfast and snacks and a family concierge.
Carnival also is beefing up its shorter cruise product from Long Beach onboard Imagination and Inspiration, which sail to Catalina Island or Ensenada, Mexico. The company is launching a multimillion-dollar port development project in Ensenada to set up unique shore excursions for guests on Mexican Riviera cruises, as well as for those stopping by while on Panama Canal or Hawaii itineraries.
All of this is supported by the recent expansion of the Long Beach Cruise Terminal, which has more than doubled in size and been redesigned to make passenger flow easier and more efficient. In addition, the level of shore power was raised so that large ships in port can plug in to access local electricity and reduce emissions.
The terminal is housed in the world’s largest, free-span geodesic dome, originally built for Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose; a model of the famous flying boat is suspended from the ceiling. There’s also a 1980s-style arcade inside, where passengers can amuse themselves while they wait. Carnival formerly used a 46,000-square-foot space in the terminal; now it has around 140,000 square feet for its exclusive use.
“The West Coast is an important market with vast growth potential, and these initiatives further demonstrate the confidence in our future success in Long Beach,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival. “We are very much looking forward to having Carnival Panorama homeported here beginning next year.”