November 27, 2000
The West Coast is cruisedom's hot new homeport. Particularly southern California where Carnival Cruise Lines, which currently operates just one regularly scheduled itinerary from Los Angeles (short 3- and 4-day voyages to the Mexican Riviera) announced recently it will build a new terminal in Long Beach, California, adjacent to the Queen Mary. The terminal is due for completion in 2002. Look for bigger ship placements and a wider range of itineraries to result. More news on the L.A. front: Los Angeles-based Princess Cruises is homeporting its next 100,000 ton megaship -- the Star Princess -- in Southern California. Princess is the first line to put the proverbial money-where-the-mouth-is by committing to base the Grand Princess sister ship there, where it will offer regular Mexican Riviera itineraries that take travel roundtrip from L.A. with stops in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. Interestingly, Southern California has traditionally been the mainstay of the older, less amenity, fewer private-balconied ships of Royal Caribbean and Carnival, and focused on short itineraries that take in, oh, maybe one or two Mexican ports, at most. But the entry of Star Princess into that marketplace means cruisers no longer have to sign up for a longer, more expensive voyage -- say, for instance, a Panama Canal itinerary or an Alaskan repositioning trip -- to explore the Mexican Riviera. Star Princess is slated to launch March 16, 2002. But you don't have to wait that long for a weeklong Mexican Riviera voyage: the 77,000 ton (and amenity filled) Sea Princess begins an identical itinerary in fall 2001.