Carnival deploying new ship in Long Beach

|
The Long Beach Terminal features a scale model of the Spruce Goose that was flown in the Howard Hughes bio-pic "The Aviator."
The Long Beach Terminal features a scale model of the Spruce Goose that was flown in the Howard Hughes bio-pic "The Aviator." Photo Credit: Tom Stieghorst

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Carnival Cruise Line will put a new ship in Long Beach in 2019, marking the first time in decades that one of its newbuilds will sail an inaugural season in a U.S. city outside of Miami.

The new ship, the Carnival Panorama, is the third in a class that started with Carnival Vista in 2016.

Carnival president Christine Duffy announced the deployment at a ceremony to dedicate an expanded Carnival terminal in Long Beach. She said the decision underscores Carnival's ambitions for the Southern California gateway.

"I think this demonstrates to everyone the commitment that we at Carnival have made to the West Coast operation," Duffy said. "I'm sure for travel agents in this community it will be a great opportunity to sell even more people on cruising."

Carnival Cruise Line president Christine Duffy dedicates Carnival's expanded terminal in Long Beach.
Carnival Cruise Line president Christine Duffy dedicates Carnival's expanded terminal in Long Beach. Photo Credit: Tom Stieghorst

Duffy also disclosed that Carnival will make a big investment to upgrade the passenger experience in Ensenada, Mexico, a stop featured on all Carnival short cruises from Long Beach.

The Ensenada improvements, which will include both indoor and outdoor features, are expected to be finished by 2020. Duffy said details would be forthcoming at a later date.

Betsy Geiser, vice president at Uniglobe Travel, Irvine, Ca., said the Ensenada upgrades will be especially welcome for repeat passengers. "Everybody who cruises out of Southern California has been there 20 times," she said.

For the past 15 years, Carnival's operation in Long Beach has been separate from other cruise lines, located in an unusual geodesic dome that was originally built to house the Howard Hughes-designed Spruce Goose aircraft.

The cruise line has used only part of the 146,000-square-foot dome, with exhibitions and an annual ice sculpting competition in the other part. Carnival reached agreement to lease the entire building and began using the expanded terminal on Jan. 25.

The most important impact is that it can now board and disembark passengers simultaneously. Before, arriving passengers sometimes had to wait outside the building in the weather while ships were emptied.

Carnival's new Long Beach Terminal features artificial trees and a large cut-out display of a California mountain.
Carnival's new Long Beach Terminal features artificial trees and a large cut-out display of a California mountain. Photo Credit: Tom Stieghorst

Carnival is using the expanded terminal to debut a streamlined mobile check-in, which in most cases lets agents swipe identification through a mobile device and take a ID card photo in a minute or two.

"With our new embark technology people are able with just a swipe to come in and relax before they board the ship," Duffy said.

The enlarged terminal affords more room and a better set-up for Customs and Border Protection.

Carnival also created elaborate theming for the cavernous interior of the dome, with a 30-foot high billboard representation of Thunder Mountain in the Sierra Nevada range, and dozens of freeze-dried trees for decoration.

Carnival also obtained a scale model of the Spruce Goose that was flown in the Hughes bio-pic "The Aviator." It has been installed on a second -floor landing where embarking passengers can pose with it for photos.

The giant Spruce Goose, formally the Hughes H-4 Hercules, was an eight-engine prototype made of wood and had the largest wingspan of any plane ever flown. It made one brief flight in 1947 but was rejected for production by the U.S. military. It was hangered in Long Beach from 1980 to 1991.

Comments
JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI