Carnival Cruise Lines is making moves that will put Long Beach among the busiest cruise ports on the West Coast.
The company, which operates 24 ships to destinations such as the Bahamas, Tahiti, Australia and New Zealand, has positioned itself for future expansion with the January arrival of Carnival Imagination and plans to shift Carnival Miracle to year-round service to the Mexican Riviera in October and add services to Hawaii.
These ships, paired with Carnival Inspiration, make Long Beach the home of three year-round Carnival ships carrying more than 600,000 passengers annually.
“Adding year-round Mexican Riviera cruises allows us to further bolster our leadership position on the West Coast,” said company spokesman Vance Gulliksen, adding that the services catering to more than a half-million people are more than any other cruise operator.
When the Press-Telegram first reported the announcement of a third Carnival ship in 2012, city and tourism officials lauded the news.
Mayor Bob Foster said in 2012 that Carnival’s addition will not only have a significant local economic impact on Long Beach, but an environmental impact as well because the company will plug in ships for power while docked here.
Steve Goodling, president and CEO of the Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau, said at the time that the additional ship “will continue to elevate and build brand recognition of Long Beach as a prime destination in Southern California.”
Carnival has seven-day Mexican Riviera cruises, as well as Hawaii cruises, including round-trip voyages from Long Beach, and demand has grown in recent years.
“Our guests and travel agent partners have been asking for more Mexican Riviera cruises — particularly in the summer months, which are peak travel times in the cruise industry — and this new deployment of the Carnival Miracle is the result of this important feedback,” Gulliksen said.
Starting Oct. 4, Carnival will offer three different week-long services, including a new cruise that stops at Mazatlán, Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta.
Carnival Miracle, which will undergo enhancements in March 2015 to feature new not-yet-announced ship amenities, will also run services to Hawaii in 2015-2016.
Carnival will offer three 15-day voyages from Long Beach on Oct. 17 and Nov. 28, 2015, and Nov. 16, 2016, with stops in Maui, Honolulu, Kauai, Kona and Hilo.
Meanwhile, Carnival Imagination’s three- and four-day services to Ensenada and Catalina Island that started in January have been successful.
“These short cruises are popular with folks who are looking for a convenient, affordable getaway and attracts a significant number of guests from the West Coast as well as the Southwestern U.S.,” Gulliksen said.
By Karen Robes Meeks, Long Beach Press Telegram
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