Los Angeles is one of the biggest cruise ports in the nation, and it dominates the West Coast cruise market. If you’re planning a cruise in the Pacific, odds are good that you’re considering some cruises that depart from Los Angeles.
Whether that’s a good idea or not depends entirely on you and your preferences. Different cruise ports tend to offer different destinations, and the cruise port itself is an important part of the experience. We’ll cover the pros and cons for cruising from Los Angeles to help you make a decision.
One of the best things about the Los Angeles Cruise Port is that it’s in Los Angeles. If you have the time and the inclination, you can work the city into your trip. Los Angeles is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, and for good reason. There are tons of things to see and do.
Extending your trip for even a day or two can give you time to see some of the best sights. Los Angeles is full of iconic buildings and places, many of which have featured in your favorite films and TV Shows. This city is the beating heart of American culture, and you’ll want to take the time to explore it.
If, for some reason, you don’t want to extend your trip and explore Los Angeles, there are still some major benefits to cruising out of LA. First, it’s easy to get there. Los Angeles is a major population center, a huge tourist spot, and a busy port. Finding flights into Los Angeles is easy, and no matter where you live and what airport you’re flying out from there’s probably a direct flight.
Once you’ve landed in Los Angeles, getting from the airport to the cruise port is easy, too. If you don’t want to rent a car there are taxis, Uber and Lyft drivers, and even shuttles waiting to take you wherever you need to go. Most people fly in the day before their cruise leaves and stay in a hotel. If that’s the case, there’s a good chance that your hotel has a shuttle that will pick you up at the airport for no extra charge.
Los Angeles Weather
Los Angeles is famous for its great weather. It’s always sunny and warm, and it rarely gets uncomfortably hot or cold. That’s actually true for much of the West Coast, though. The weather on this side of the country is just milder in general than it is in most places. That means that, not only will you have pleasant weather when your cruise departs and returns, but you will probably have nice weather throughout the entire cruise, no matter what time of year it is.
The beauty of this is that it makes it somewhat perfect for just about everybody. If you live somewhere cold, you’ll love the warm weather. If you live somewhere hot, you love that the weather here is cooler.
Access to the Terminals
The cruise terminals in the Port of Los Angeles are easy to get to. If you are flying in and staying in a hotel, it’s common to find hotels near the cruise port that will pick you up at the airport and drive you to and from the cruise terminal. That way you never have to worry about renting a car.
If you’re not flying in, it’s still easy to find the terminals. They aren’t stashed away in some far part of the Port, they’re actually one of the first things you’ll see in the Port. The terminals are located just off the highway and close to other major attractions, which makes them very easy to get to no matter how you’re getting there.
Los Angeles is a driving city. Public transit exists, but this is a city that’s built around cars. Everyone drives everywhere here, and that’s reflected in the way that the city is built and laid out. Parking is a big deal in Los Angeles and any business that expects lots of customers will need to provide ample parking.
The cruise terminals are no different. While lots of passengers fly into to LA from elsewhere to board a cruise ship in Los Angeles, plenty of passengers still drive in. These are either Los Angeles residents or Californians who decided to drive in rather than fly in. If that’s you, know that there is a ton of parking available near the cruise terminals.
It isn’t free parking, mind you, but it’s not terribly expensive and it’s incredibly convenient. Being able to walk off the cruise ship and get right into your car and go home is wonderful, and makes the whole trip that much better.
One of the biggest deciding factors when choosing a cruise port should always be the destinations you can choose from. If you’re looking at cruises out of Los Angeles, one of the biggest benefits is the sheer diversity of destinations.
The nearest cruise port, Long Beach, sends cruises mainly south to the Mexican Riviera, and it can be difficult to find cruises from Long Beach that go anywhere else. Los Angeles offers far more destinations.
Partly, that’s because there are more cruise lines leaving from Los Angeles than Long Beach. Long Beach is exclusively a Carnival cruise port, but Los Angeles plays host to Carnival, Princess, Norwegian, Celebrity, and Crystal cruise lines.
Here are the potential destinations you can cruise to from Los Angeles, broken down by cruise line.
Most Carnival cruises on the West Coast depart from Long Beach, but they have cruises leaving from San Diego and San Francisco as well as from the Los Angeles World Cruise Center.
First, you should know that looking for Carnival cruises online can be a bit confusing. The Los Angeles World Cruise Center website clearly lists Carnival cruises as one of their cruise lines, but Carnival’s website doesn’t list any cruises departing from the World Cruise Center. What gives?
Carnival cruises are not regularly scheduled to depart from the World Cruise Center, since they have exclusive use of the Long Beach Cruise terminal. It does happen though, whether for scheduling reasons of because the Long Beach Terminal is undergoing maintenance. The vast majority of these cruises head south to the Mexican Riviera.
The Mexican Riviera is a broad term for a series of resort ports along the Pacific Coast of Mexico. The specific ports you stop will depend on the duration of the cruise.
Celebrity Cruises offers two primary cruises out of Los Angeles. The California Coastal cruise is a seven-night cruise that first heads north to San Francisco, then turns south to Monterrey, Catalina Island, and all the way down to Ensenada before turning back north and returning to Los Angeles.
The Panama Canal Eastbound cruise is a lengthy one. Over 16 nights, the cruise south stopping in San Diego, Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Puerta Quetzal, Puntarenas, and then cruises through the Canal and stops at Colon, Panama and Cartagena, Colombia before turning north and finishing the cruise in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Crystal Cruises is a luxury cruise line that offers some of the most incredible cruise packages you’ll find anywhere. As one example, they offer an 89-night cruise from Los Angeles to Rome. It sails south into the South Pacific, stopping at the most famous islands along the way before hitting up the major tourist sites in New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and India. After India, the cruise travels up through the Red Sea through the Suez Canal, and then through the Mediterranean to Rome.
Not all of their cruises are quite as extravagant. They also have, for instance, a 12-night cruise to French Polynesia in the South Pacific.
Princess Cruises operate most of the cruises that depart from the Los Angeles World Cruise Center, largely because they’re a huge cruise line and cater to people looking for shorter, more affordable cruise vacations.
The Pacific coastal cruises are popular. These are 3, 4, or 5 day cruises that sail north from Los Angeles to to Vancouver. The difference in the length of each cruise is related to the number of stops. Longer cruises have more stops along the way.
They also have 5 day cruises to Cabo San Lucas, Mexican Riviera Cruises, California coast cruises, and 10-day cruises around the Baja peninsula and the Sea of Cortez. A 15 day, coast-to-coast cruise down through the Panama Canal that ends in Fort Lauderdale is offered, too.
You’ll notice that many of Princess’s offerings are following the same or similar routes as other cruise lines. Often, they offer the same experience at a more affordable price.
Princess also cruises to Alaska from Los Angeles through the Inside Passage and a 21-day cruise across the Pacific to New Zealand. They have by far the widest range of destinations and cruise options of any cruise line operating out of Los Angeles. They even sail down to the coast of South America.
Norwegian cruises departing from Los Angeles mostly head down to the Mexican Riviera on cruises of varying lengths. They also cruise to Ft Lauderdale through the Panama Canal, and Pacific coastal cruises that explore the coast of California.
One thing to note when you’re looking at the cruise lines that depart from the Los Angeles World Cruise Center is that the LAWCC website, oddly, lists several cruise lines that do not operate from there. It isn’t clear why that’s the case. The cruise lines listed above are the only cruise lines that regularly schedule cruises from LA, but they cover just about any destination you could want.
As you can see, cruising from Los Angeles gives you the option to cruise to nearly anywhere: from Alaska to South America to Hawaii to Australia and everywhere in between.
Now that we’ve covered all the benefits of cruising out of Los Angeles, we have to talk about the downsides. While the benefits here are numerous, there are some definite drawbacks to cruises out of Los Angeles.
Even though we listed the city as a pro, it can also be a con, depending on who you are. Los Angeles has its problems. For one thing, it’s very expensive.
Hotel rooms and transportation costs are higher in Los Angeles than they are in many other cities. Eating out can easily get very expensive, and buying souvenirs or checking out the big tourist sites isn’t cheap, either. It’s entirely possible that cruising out of Los Angeles will end up costing you more than cruising elsewhere.
Los Angeles’ West Coast location is also a problem for many people. If you live in the Midwest it’s usually more expensive to travel to LA than to an East Coast location. If you live in the South there are plenty of cruise ports on the Gulf Coast that are much, much closer to you. Flying all the way to Los Angeles for a cruise may not be the best way to go.
While Los Angeles is full of great things to see and do, you may not be able to extend your trip to see them. If that’s true, then maybe another, cheaper port is a better option.
With the exception of the Fort Lauderdale cruises, if you’re cruising from Los Angeles you’re limited to Pacific and West Coast destinations. And frankly, the Ft Lauderdale cruises are all at least two weeks long, and many of us can’t take a cruise that long.
For shorter, more reasonable cruise, most of the options are destinations up and down the West Coast of the US. If you want a tropical vacation, you might be better off leaving on a cruise from the Gulf Coast.
Worth Reading: 50 Best Things to Do in Los Angeles for Cruise Visitors
If you’re looking for a family-friendly cruise line like Disney, they don’t leave from Los Angeles. Most cruises have something going on for children, but Disney cruises are widely preferred for families with young kids, and you won’t find them here.
While the Los Angeles Cruise Port has a variety of cruise lines to choose from, your preferred cruise line may not be among them. That’s something to consider if you’re an experienced cruiser and yo have a line that you prefer to cruise on.
It’s difficult to simply recommend a cruise port to someone, since choosing the right port really depends almost entirely on your personal preferences. Cruising from Los Angeles has a lot of advantages; there are things to do and see all over the city, so the cruise port itself becomes a crucial part of the vacation.
The number of potential destinations for your cruise is staggering, too. You can sail to almost any location on the West Coast of North or South America, or cruise through the Panama Canal. You can even cross the Pacific and, if you have the time and money, sail all the way through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean.
Getting into and out of the port is easy, too, since LA is such a major city and economic hub. There’s not shortage of flights into the airport and transportation from the airport to the cruise port is easy to find.
Still, as we’ve seen, for some people the very things that make Los Angeles attractive might be a major drawback for others. Some people would rather cruise to the Caribbean, others won’t like the cost of hotels, food, and souvenirs in Los Angeles. As we said, it all comes down to what you want.
FAQ on Cruises from Los Angeles
Cruise ships depart from the Los Angeles World Cruise Center. This is located in the Port of Los Angeles which is actually in the city of San Pedro. The Cruise Center is right next to the USS Iowa.
The Port of Los Angeles is in San Pedro, which is on the southwest side of Los Angeles. Cruise ships are based out of the Los Angeles World Cruise Center, which is located within the Port, between the Battleship Iowa and the Catalina Island Express Terminal.
That depends on the specific cruise line and the cruise you pick. Cruises out of Los Angeles are not inherently more expensive than cruises from the East Coast, but there are several factors to consider. For instance, if you live closer to the East Coast, the overall cost of your trip would be less if you cruised from the East coast, since your travel costs would be less.
The city of Los Angeles is also a more expensive place than many East coast cities, so if you’re considering hotel costs and the cost of dining out before your cruise, an LA cruise might be more expensive. If you live closer to the West Coast, then it will probably cost less to cruise from LA than from the East Coast.
Just about every major cruise line sails out of somewhere in California. Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Disney, Norwegian, and more all operate in California, and some sail out of multiple ports. Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Francisco and San Diego all have cruise ports. Not every cruise line sails from every port, though.
The majority of the cruises that leave from Los Angeles sail up and down the West Coast for a few days, stopping in other major cities like San Francisco and Vancouver. That said, cruises from Los Angeles go almost everywhere in the Pacific. You can find cruises to Alaska and South America as well as cruises to Hawaii, French Polynesia, and Australia. Some cruises even travel through the Panama Canal and disembark in Florida.
LAX is 19.7 miles away from the cruise port.
That’s really going to depend on what you want in a hotel. For the best overall experience it’d be hard to be the Queen Mary or the Crowne Plaza. If you’re looking for the most affordable hotel there are several places that can compete for that, and the Sunrise Hotel is the closest. Take your pick- they’re all good.
That depends on which parking lot you choose. The parking lot at the San Pedro Fish Market is in the Port, and it’s free. The World Cruise Center parking lot is $17 per day. Parking at the Battleship Iowa or the Catalina Sea and Air Terminal is $19 per day.
The paid parking lots all have security guards to make sure that your vehicle is safe while you’re on your cruise. The hotel parking lots do, as well. The free parking lots don’t have dedicated security guards, but they are well-lit and break-ins or vehicle theft are rare.
No, there is no covered parking available at the Port of Los Angeles. All of the paid parking here is uncovered, and so is all of the free parking. Some of the hotels offering room and parking packages may have covered parking available, but you would need to check with them first. Fortunately, Los Angeles rarely has the sort of weather that requires covered parking.
Yes. The San Pedro Fish Market is in the Port, and there are dozens of restaurants nearby.
The biggest difference, aside from location, is that the Long Beach Cruise Terminal is the exclusive port of Carnival cruises- you can’t sail with any other cruise line out of Long Beach. Los Angeles is home to far more cruise lines.