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Cruises to Catalina Island

Catalina Island (California) (Photo:Chris Grant/Shutterstock)
Catalina Island (California) (Photo:Chris Grant/Shutterstock)

About Catalina Island

Catalina, third largest of the Channel Islands, feels like a world away.

Twenty-two miles west into the Pacific from Los Angeles, the island combines natural beauty with a wide range of amenities and activities. With over fifty miles of shoreline, secluded coves and dramatic views, this destination has earned a reputation as "the island of romance."

Fittingly, Avalon, Catalina's mile-square port city, is named for an island paradise in the King Arthur legend. Catalina's most famous landmark, the 1929 Art Deco Casino, dominates the waterfront. Rows of shops, restaurants and hotels stretch along Crescent Avenue and up into narrow streets dotted with bougainvillea-framed bungalows. Most of the town's attractions are within comfortable walking distance from the pier - snorkeling, kayaking, dining and shopping.

The good news is that Catalina's charms should be enjoyed for years to come. The Santa Catalina Island Conservancy, a non-profit organization, owns and manages over 80% of the 76-square-mile island, a gift from the family of chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. The Conservancy's holdings include Catalina's rugged interior and most of the coastline. Its goal is to restore and preserve the island's natural state.

Catalina is a relaxed, friendly island with a Mediterranean feel, easy to explore on foot or by golf cart. Its rich marine life and clear calm waters make it a popular destination for water sports, from fishing and wake boarding to snorkeling and kayaking.

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7 Night
Cruise to Catalina Island

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
San Francisco, Monterey ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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9 Night
Cruise to Catalina Island

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Catalina Island, Ensenada ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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DAY 1: San Diego

4 Night
Cruise to Catalina Island

Leaving:
San Diego
Visiting:
Catalina Island, Ensenada ...
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Cruise Line:
Disney Cruise Line
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DAY 1: San Diego

7 Night
Cruise to Catalina Island

Leaving:
San Diego
Visiting:
Catalina Island, Santa Barbara ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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7 Night
Cruise to Catalina Island

Leaving:
San Diego
Visiting:
Catalina Island, Santa Barbara ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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7 Night
Cruise to Catalina Island

Leaving:
San Diego
Visiting:
Catalina Island, Santa Barbara ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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4 Night
Cruise to Catalina Island

Leaving:
San Diego
Visiting:
Catalina Island, Ensenada ...
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Cruise Line:
Disney Cruise Line
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18 Night
Cruise to Catalina Island

Leaving:
San Francisco
Visiting:
Catalina Island, Ensenada ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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9 Night
Cruise to Catalina Island

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Catalina Island, Ensenada ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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36 Night
Cruise to Catalina Island

Leaving:
Tahiti
Visiting:
Bora Bora, Rangiroa ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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9 Night
Cruise to Catalina Island

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Ensenada, San Diego ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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5 Night
Cruise to Catalina Island

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Channel Islands, Catalina Island ...
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Cruise Line:
Lindblad Expeditions
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5 Night
Cruise to Catalina Island

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Channel Islands, Catalina Island ...
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Cruise Line:
Lindblad Expeditions
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5 Night
Cruise to Catalina Island

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Channel Islands, Catalina Island ...
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Cruise Line:
Lindblad Expeditions
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Why go to Catalina Island?

Pros:

The island's casino is still in exquisite shape; its Avalon Theatre debuted the first films with sound

Cons:

There's not much for free; you'll pay for tours, water sports, scooter rentals and even the beach

Bottom Line:

Once the retreat of the rich and famous, Catalina still offers vacationers an afternoon of amusement

Catalina Island Cruise Port Facilities?

Green Pleasure Pier is a hub of activity. It's home to the Visitors Bureau, as well as rentals for motorboats, wave runners and fishing equipment. Glass bottom boat tours and semi-submersible tours launch from here. For years, the pier has been Avalon's official weigh station for sport fishermen, including Zane Grey, Cecil B. DeMille and Charlie Chaplin. Nearby Crescent Avenue is a pleasant place to window shop and enjoy an ice cream cone.

Insider's Tip: On weekdays, tourists easily mingle with the island's 3,800 year-round residents. But on weekends and during the summer, it can be tough to find a place to lay your beach towel. To escape the crowds, bring your mask and snorkel on a short walk from the boat dock to the preserve at Lover's Cove. With no fishing or boat anchorage allowed, the Cove is rich in marine life. Or visit Little Harbor on the southwest shore, reached by Catalina Safari Shuttle Bus. Rugged waves crash on two beautiful sandy beaches at this secluded cove.

Getting Around?

Cars are limited on Catalina (there's a 8-10 year waiting list to own a car on the island). Most folks walk or rent golf carts and bicycles, the preferred modes of transportation. Even the sheriff drives a golf cart fitted with a siren and special high-speed gears (about $30/hour for carts for those 25 and older with a driver's license; $10/hour for bikes).

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

The U.S. dollar is the official currency and ATMs are plentiful.

Language?

English.

Where You're Docked?

Catalina's port is too small for cruise ships. Instead, ships anchor outside the harbor and tender passengers to Green Pleasure Pier in the center of downtown Avalon.


Catalina Island Cruise Reviews

Celebrity Eclipse
packedcountdown
Sail Date: Nov 2019
I really enjoyed walking around Catalina and visiting the shops. Very casual and friendly town.... Read More
Carnival Inspiration
pamommy
Sail Date: Dec 2019
We had a great time and got to see the whole island... Read More
Carnival Imagination
RobinCruiser
Sail Date: Sep 2019
We chose not to book an excursion and instead rented a golf cart to do a tour of the island. This was fun and provided a unique way to see the island. Following our trip around the island, we explored shops in town... Read More
Carnival Inspiration
Razz21
Sail Date: Feb 2019
Love Catalina.... Read More
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