(5 p.m. EDT) -- The California dream has turned into something of a nightmare. Add Holland America to the list of big-ship lines that have recently announced pull-outs from the increasingly depressed So-Cal cruise market.
Oosterdam, which had been offering regular ex-San Diego Mexican Riviera cruises from October to April, is being redeployed to Australia in October 2012.
HAL has not, however, announced all its deployments beyond fall 2012, and it declined to comment on whether a ship would replace Oosterdam on the Mexico route. In a statement, HAL would say only that the "city and port have been wonderful for us and our operations and we expect that relationship will continue."
Still, Port of San Diego official Rita Vandergaw told the San Diego Union-Tribune that, for now, it appears the city will no longer offer regular Mexico sailings. At its peak in 2008, 255 ships docked at the port, a number expected to fall to 103 this year and lower still the next.
The redeployment of Oosterdam is just the latest blow to the So-Cal cruise industry. In January, Carnival announced that it was sending 88,500-ton, 2,124-passenger Carnival Spirit, which has been splitting time between San Diego (for Mexico) and Seattle (for Alaska), to a year-round post in Sydney starting in October 2012.
In recent years, San Diego and Los Angeles have seen a mass exodus, courtesy of redeployments by Carnival, NCL and Royal Caribbean. Lines have cited a combination of factors for the departures, including a struggling local economy, the swine flu scare and disinterest with staid Mexican Riviera ports.
--by Dan Askin, News Editor