Island off California Poised for Landmark Cruise Season

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The Port of Avalon on Catalina Island, California, is poised for a landmark year in cruise tourism, with a record number of first-time visits in 2024. The surge in tourism will significantly boost the island’s economy and local businesses.

A New Wave of Cruise Ships Arrives

In a surge of maritime activity, Catalina will host five inaugural cruise ship visits in 2024, marking a significant milestone in its role as a premier cruise destination. The series of first-time calls to the island underscores its growing appeal within the global cruise industry.

The inaugural season began on January 12, 2024, with the Seaborn Sojourn docking at the Port of Avalon. 

“Cruise ship visitors are important to the local economy, especially in winter and spring when other travel to the island tends to be at a much-reduced rate,” said Jim Luttjohann, Love Catalina’s president and CEO. “In most years, cruise ship visitors make up about 25% of total visitor volume for Catalina. Cruise passengers generate revenue for the City of Avalon through the payment of port fees too.”

On May 5, 2024, Avalon will host Celebrity Summit from Celebrity Cruises. Following closely, on May 13, Carnival Firenze, the new 4,126-passenger ship from Carnival Cruise Line, will make its maiden call. 

A highlight of the late summer will be the arrival of Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas on September 27, with another jewel in the fleet, Radiance of the Seasarriving for the first time on October 4.

Added island retail owner Catrina Awalt of Twos Company, “The diversity of this year’s ship line-up is wonderful news for retailers. We have some of the top lines calling on us, bringing a higher-end clientele to our shores. Having Royal Caribbean resume calling on us and recently the addition of Disney Cruises has really made a difference in our local economy.”

Welcoming a Fleet of Giants

The 2024 cruise schedule extends beyond inaugural visits, with regular stops by industry giants like Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Holland America, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Royal Caribbean.

Notably, Holland America’s Eurodam and Zaandam are returning after absences since 2028 and 2010, respectively.

January saw multiple visits from Carnival Radiance and Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seassetting the stage for a busy February with Carnival Miracle, which arrives on the 5th and 14th, and continued visits from Carnival Radiance.

Cruise Ship at Avalon, Catalina Island
Cruise Ship at Avalon, Catalina Island (Photo Credit: cvalle)

March is equally bustling, with Miracle and Radiance returning Carnival for six more visits, Zaandam’s arrival on the 21st, and Disney Wonder gracing the port on the 16th, 20th, and 31st.

Read Also: Disney Cruise Line Will Return to Catalina Island

While Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas and Carnival Radiance will be regular visitors throughout the year, select ships like Brilliance of the Seas will make special, one-time appearances.

The total capacity of these liners is projected to bring over 260,000 visitors to Catalina Island in 2024.

A Premier Destination

As Avalon gears up for its year of maritime activity, the broader appeal of Catalina Island, with its stunning natural beauty, rich history, and compressive amenities, remains a key attraction.

The island, located 22 miles off the coast of California, is becoming a popular cruise port for U.S. West Coast cruises and boasts 33 restaurants, lively seaside bars, and a wide variety of on- and off-water activities.

With eight marine sanctuaries and 48,000 acres of pristine protected wilderness under the stewardship of the Catalina Island Conservancy, Catalina’s allure offers endless opportunities for exploration.

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