The West Coast -- California, Washington and parts of British Columbia -- will see steady cruise traffic and a majorly expanded terminal by the end of 2017.
The fate of the West Coast cruise industry still seems to hinge slightly on Alaska. Tourism to the Last Frontier either fuels port activity -- to the point where it needs to expand its long-term growth plan -- like in Seattle, or syphons business away, leaving ports in Los Angeles without a strong enough lineup of itineraries to draw more passengers and increase capacity.
The Canadian port of Victoria is hoping to take advantage of strong Alaska seasons by investing in its terminal facilities and infrastructure, aiming to become a homeport in the next few years.
Find out what cruise ports on the West Coast are doing to accommodate or attract demand in 2017 and beyond.
Port of Long Beach (Los Angeles)
- Since last year, Carnival Cruise Line (the only line that homeports at Long Beach) announced and initiated major upgrades to the terminal facilities. When the expansion is completed later this year, the Long Beach Cruise Terminal will increase from 66,000 square feet to 142,000 square feet, more than doubling its original size and becoming one of Carnival's largest homeports in the process. The renovation will also focus on improving embarkation/debarkation operations.
- In addition to the construction, Carnival plans to improve infrastructure by expanding shore power capabilities. This will better accommodate larger ships.
- Carnival Splendor will join Miracle, Inspiration and Imagination on cruises from Long Beach in 2018.
Port of Los Angeles (San Pedro)
- Eleven cruise lines and 24 ships will sail from the Port of Los Angeles at San Pedro this year.
- For 2016, the number of vessels was 118 with 601,541 passengers, a slight increase in passengers year over year. The port estimates about the same numbers of passengers for 2017 and 2018.
- Representatives from the port say they are seeing a trend in slightly larger cruise ships calling.
Port of San Diego
- Homeported lines at San Diego for the 2017 season include Holland America, Disney Cruise Line and Celebrity, sailing Mexican Riviera, Panama Canal, Hawaii and California Coast itineraries. Disney is increasing to 18 homeport calls and Holland America will offer regular seven-night cruises to the Mexican Riviera onboard Westerdam and Oosterdam during 2017 and 2018.
- Cruise terminal improvements at San Diego include removing outdated obstructions from the inside of its B Street terminal to reduce wait times. New fans and seating have been added, and plans for an escalator to be installed at the north end of the pier are scheduled for this summer.
- A second 400-room hotel is currently under construction, just across the street from the terminal.
Port of San Francisco
- A total of 14 cruise lines and 28 ships are visiting San Francisco in 2017, offering round trip itineraries with calls to Alaska, Mexico, Hawaii and the California Coast.
- Grand Princess continues to homeport year-round from San Francisco, with 33 calls this year.
- Five ships are making maiden calls to the Port of San Francisco in 2017, including Silver Whisper (January), Emerald Princess and Holland America's Noordam on September 28, and Seabourn Soujourn and Holland America's Eurodam in October.
- The Pier 29 Bulkhead Building, adjacent to the Pier 27 Cruise Terminal, is being developed as a retail facility, offering arts and crafts for purchase, cultural and exhibit space, and food service.
Port of Seattle
- The Port of Seattle expects its largest cruise season yet, in 2017, with more than 1 million passengers.
- A variety of ships will sail from Seattle this year including Holland America's Amsterdam, Eurodam and Oosterdam; Carnival Legend; Celebrity Solstice; Emerald Princess and Ruby Princess; Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas; Norwegian Jewel and Norwegian Pearl; Oceania's Regatta; and Lindblad's National Geographic Sea Bird and National Geographic Sea Lion, which are expedition vessels. The season begins on April 29.
- Lindblad Expeditions will be launching the 100-passenger National Geographic Quest on June 26. Currently being built in Seattle, the expedition ship is the first-ever new-build for the line. It will sail on two, 13-day “Treasures of the Inside Passage: Alaska & British Columbia” expeditions and multiple eight-day “Exploring Alaska’s Coastal Wilderness” voyages throughout the season.
- A 15-year agreement with Norwegian Cruise Line includes upgrading the passenger experience at the Pier 66 cruise terminal. The $30 million planned upgrades will add 150,000 square feet of check-in space, a new VIP lounge, expansive views of Elliott Bay and the addition of two new elevated passenger boarding bridges to provide easy and comfortable embarkation -- one gangway in 2017, and a second gangway being built for Norwegian Bliss in 2018.
- Norwegian Cruise Line's newest ship, Norwegian Bliss, will debut in Seattle next June sailing cruises to Alaska.
- Seattle cruise passengers this season will be able to get their airline boarding pass and check their bags onboard so they can check out Seattle before flying home. The Cruise Luggage Valet Program is a complimentary service of the Port of Seattle that will allow passengers to spend time in the city to see the sights before returning home.
- Seattle's annual Green Gateway Awards are recognizing Carnival Cruise Line for its recycling incentive program along with participating in Coastal Cleanup Day & World Oceans Day; Celebrity Cruises for its installation of solar panels that integrate into its ships' energy grid; Holland America Line for its use of shore power while in port, along with its use of electronic data logging for environmental information; Norwegian Cruise Line for establishing a hotline to report environmental violations, along with an innovative key card activation system for lights and A/C in cabins for energy savings; and Princess Cruises for its use of shore power and installation of LED lighting.
Port of Vancouver
- The Port of Vancouver is expecting another strong season in 2017 with just over 840,000 passengers on 237 calls. The cruise season this year kicks off April 11 with a Star Princess sailing.
- In addition to Princess Cruises, who will have five ships sailing from Vancouver in 2017, cruisers will see three Celebrity Cruises' ships: Infinity, Millennium and Solstice; Disney Wonder cruises; an impressive seven ships from Holland America; Oceania's Regatta; Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas; Norwegian Pearl, Sun and Jewel; Regent's Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas Navigator; Silver Shadow; and one Carnival Legend sailing in September.
- The majority of itineraries out of Vancouver are bound for Alaska, but the port will also see a number of Hawaii and Pacific Coastal itineraries in April and September. Star Princess will close out the season with a three-night coastal voyage in December this year.
- The World, the largest private residential ship, will call on Vancouver for one stop on its worldwide itinerary.
- The port is doing a lot of work around signage and wayfinding at the cruise terminal. Dynamic signs will be installed in the terminal this season, aimed at improving passenger flow; the same space is used for disembarking and embarking passengers within the terminal.
Greater Victoria Harbour
- Victoria, British Columbia expects an increase in ship visits of 10 percent in 2017, with more than 240 calls. In 2016, the Ogden Point terminal in Victoria welcomed 224 cruise ships with 550,000 passengers. In 2017, the port expects just fewer than 558,000 passengers. The Greater Victoria Harbour is Canada's busiest cruise ship port of call.
- Inaugural calls to Victoria in 2017 will include Holland America's Eurodam, Emerald Princess and Seabourn Sojourn.
- Victoria will add a longer mooring dolphin (piles driven into a seabed) on Pier B to accommodate the 1,082-foot-long Norwegian Bliss, which will make its first call in 2018 on its Alaska route.
- The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority has made some minor adjustments to the passenger terminal at Pier B this year to get people off ships and to their transportation faster, or to walking excursions in downtown Victoria and along the shoreline. The port is also working on a large-scale signage and wayfinding project to improve passengers' arrival experience.
- In the past year, the Port of Victoria has made considerable changes to its ground transportation operations at Ogden Point for environmental sustainability. It is currently piloting North America's first fully electric double-decker bus as a shore excursion shuttle, and in 2016 it introduced incentives for its coach partners to operate newer buses with lower emissions out of Ogden Point. In 2015, the average bus at Ogden Point was built in 1986; in 2016, the average bus was built in 2003.
- In late 2016, the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority completed the final draft of a master plan for Ogden Point, which will transform the site of Victoria's cruise ship terminal with one of the city's largest-ever development projects, to be phased in over 30 years. The plan is to upgrade Ogden Point as a welcoming gateway for cruise passengers, and create a waterfront community hub for retail, hospitality, marine industry and cultural events adjacent to the James Bay neighborhood. One of the key goals of the master plan is to establish Victoria as a homeport for cruise lines in the early 2020s.
The "Pulse of the Ports" series offers a glimpse of what's happening around the country at our nation's cruise ports. From multimillion-dollar expansions and projects that widen waterways to the cruise ships calling there, we let you know what's happening this year from the East Coast to the West Coast, down to the Gulf Coast and on over to Florida and Alaska, home to some of the world's most popular ports of call.