The Port of Los Angeles has been around for 100 years. It’s part of the LA Waterfront, an officially recognized area that includes the port in addition to restaurants, entertainment, and tourist locations, hotels, and much more. The port is also the largest container port in the United States since 2000.
The Port of Los Angeles is also home to the Los Angeles World Cruise Center and is one of the biggest cruise ports in the country. There are two separate terminal buildings dedicated to cruises and more than a dozen different cruise companies that use the Port of Los Angeles
If you’re getting ready for a cruise out of the Port of Los Angeles, this article will give you everything you need to know. We’ve looked at parking, cruise companies, where you can find up to date schedules, entertainment, and local attractions, and more.
Cruises Operating Out of the Los Angeles World Cruise Center:
Many of the big-name cruise companies, along with many smaller operations, operate out of the Los Angeles World Cruise Center. There are too many companies to talk about each one individually, so instead, we’ve provided a list.
The big cruise operators, like Carnival, Royal Caribbean,
and Disney Cruise Lines, can all be found operating out of this port. If you
want to take a great cruise on the west coast, there’s a good chance you’ll
find yourself at one of the Los Angeles cruise terminals.
- Celebrity X Cruises
- Costa (cruising Italian style)
- Crystal Cruises
- Disney Cruise Lines
- Norwegian Cruise Lines
- Princess Cruises
- Royal Caribbean International
- Oceania Cruises
- Viking Cruises
- Holland American Line
- MSC Cruises
History of the Harbor
It would be a shame to tell you about the Los Angeles cruise terminals without some historical context. There’s a reason this port is the largest container port, in addition to hosting Los Angeles’s cruise terminals and the famous LA Waterfront.
First discovered by Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrilloin 1542, the Port of Los Angeles is built on a natural harbor. However, because the western side of the continent is rather inhospitable, the harbor and surrounding environment were largely untouched by colonization until 1769. In 1769, Spain decided to increase their colonization efforts along the West Coast.
San Pedro began to see commercial operations, increasing the need for and use of a port, in the mid-1800s.
However, San Pedro’s port was not then the Los Angeles Port. The Los Angeles Port was officially created in 1907 with the formation of a board of Harbor Commissioners. Two years later, in 1909, San Pedro and Willmington were annexed into the City of Los Angeles, setting the scene for the modern port.
The Modern Port
Initially, the port was a site of significant commercial enterprise. Fishing, shipbuilding, and oil building were all among the industries that operated on or in the harbor. Since the port brought in a significant amount of income for the city, in addition to generating jobs and attracting people to move to LA, it received significant attention and funding.
In 1912, the city invested in dredging the harbor and widening the main channel. This allowed for larger ships and more commercial traffic.
During WWII, the port underwent significant changes, focusing on wartime efforts instead of continuing expansion efforts. But, the war did create jobs, leading to the continued expansion and development of the port after the war was over.
The Los Angeles Cruise Terminal OR the Los Angeles World Cruise Center
As you can see, the Los Angeles Port comes from a very different kind of commercial history than luxury cruises. While the port as a whole is still dominated by shipping, the Los Angeles Cruise Terminal is a big cruise hub. We’ve already mentioned the many cruise operators working in the Los Angeles cruise terminals, and the list is expanding.
There are tons of cruises operating out of this port all year round. While here, it’s worth planning a couple of extra days to explore the LA waterfront in addition to the luxuries of your cruise experience. With a strong colonial history, war connections, and located in one of the cultural hubs of the United States, the Los Angeles cruise terminal is surrounded by experience opportunities.
Things to Do
Since it’s a good idea to arrive in the LA waterfront before you need to head to the Los Angeles cruise terminal, we wanted to include a short guide to the area. This large cultural development area is filled with hotels, entertainment, restaurants, and tourist attractions.
Since there is so much to do, we can’t highlight everything. But here are a few places to add to your vacation list.
If you’re looking for more to do, or want to build your own vacation plan, this map will help you plan locations and sightseeing.
The Los Angeles Naval Ship Museum
War buffs and naval aficionados alike should have this museum on their bucket list. This museum is a fantastic visit for a free-form walkthrough, or with a guided or unguided tour.
Tours focus on historical information and highlight specific details of the museum’s large collection. If you aren’t the tour type, there are lots of self-guided options through a museum app. We recommend downloading the app ahead of time if you choose this option.
The museum is family-friendly, with exhibits and tours ranging from a kid-friendly search for a historical dog to the VIP Turret Tour, and a self-guided tour focusing on what life was like as a naval crew member.
The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is a little different than most other aquariums in that it isn’t dedicated to global marine species. Instead, the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium hosts species exclusively from Southern California.
If you have little ones, this is a great way to help them bond and connect to a well-defined environment.
Some exhibits, like the Kelp Forest, also show how global certain biomes can be. While Giant Kelp doesn’t grow everywhere, floating kelp and sunken kelp both serve as food sources for many marine environments across the world.
They are also committed to conservation and can help you learn how to make a difference in ocean conservation on your cruise and at home.
Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles
Crafted is a specialty shopping mall, and you should absolutely leave some room in your luggage for the hand-produced items found here.
The mall specializes in artisanal goods of all varieties. Beautiful photography shops exist right next to ceramics, handcrafted kitchen tools and accessories, food, and jewelry.
Entry is free, and so is parking, making this another great place for killing a couple of hours before boarding.
If you’ve ever thought of a product you’d love, you’ll probably find it here. Homemade preserves, soaps, all the way through counter-top appliances, beauty products, and so much more.
Plus, since the artists have a decent amount of control over their market space, it’s also just a fun and eclectic place to explore. While we recommend leaving some luggage space for your new treasures, it’s worth visiting Crafted even if you don’t have room for mementos.
San Pedro Fish Market
The San Pedro Fish Market is both a fish market and a world-famous restaurant. It’s also a free parking location if you’re looking for somewhere to leave your vehicle during a short cruise.
This is a busy spot though, so don’t expect parking to be easy.
At the Fish Market, you’ll be able to make a custom meal, picking your fish, your preparation, toppings, and more. Custom ordering your food doesn’t slow this restaurant down. Food is incredibly fresh, fast, and absolutely delectable.
Seafood lovers should make a point of visiting this location before you leave LA>.
Babouch Moroccan Restaurant
If you’re looking for something a little more adventurous, but also delicious, Babouch is a good destination. Moroccan food will taste familiar to both Middle Eastern food and Ethiopian food but is also distinct and wonderful.
You can order like a standard restaurant, buying appetizers drinks and entrees separately, or you can pay for a 6-course traditional meal and pick your entrée.
The restaurant is relatively convenient to the harbor and Terminal Island, but you should still plan a little extra time for LA traffic.
San Pedro Brewing Company
If you’re looking for something a little more familiar, San Pedro Brewing Company offers craft beer and American classic pub food.
Opened in 1999, after the expansion of John T’s Tavern, San Pedro Brewing Company lays claim to the title “the original ‘Brew Co’ of San Pedro”. Open all week, San Pedro Brewing Company does add late-night hours Friday and Saturday. It can be a fun destination after your cruise as you transition back to your day-to-day.
Siren’s Java and Tea
If you aren’t ready to leave the sea quite yet, Siren’s Java and Tea is a great local location for a caffeinated pick me up. Mostly a standard coffee shop, Siren’s Java and Tea is bright and welcoming. Its oceanic theme is fun. The staff provide excellent service and tasty coffee.
Japanese American Fishing Village Memorial on Terminal Island
If you have a little time to kill on Terminal Island itself, take a moment to look at the memorial statue for Furusato. Furusato was an isolated community that was almost entirely composed of Japanese immigrants and their descendants.
However, the residents of Furusato were forced to relocate after Executive Order 9066 sent Japanese Americans into internment camps. While residents were gone, their homes and the community school were bulldozed by the U.S. Navy.
While the residents were unable to return, forming a club for former residents now on the mainland, there is now a memorial statue for the village and community that was lost.
This is just a small sampling of the restaurants and entertainments in the LA waterfront. There are options for just about any type of food, cultural experience, or hotel you could hope for. Just remember, the LA Waterfront and Port are incredibly busy places. Plan extra time for transit, and have a transportation plan in place before you arrive.
Facilities at the Terminals
Since there are so many options for food and entertainment in the LA Waterfront area, the Los Angeles Terminals themselves are purpose-built. You’ll be able to find bathrooms and other necessities in the terminal, but they are mostly functional buildings that you’ll only occupy immediately before boarding.
Depending on the cruise, and the anticipated wait time, your cruise operators may provide snacks while you’re going through luggage check.
You’ll move through 100,000 square feet of luggage check areas. Don’t worry, this process will feel familiar if you’ve ever flown on a plane.
You and your luggage will be checked by the Expedited U.S. Customs security clearance and baggage handling.
There are courtesy shuttles running between the parking lot and the terminal, which is especially useful if you have to bring a lot of luggage.
If you have any trouble or are uncertain where to go after passing your Customs check, there are plenty of signs and lots of staff ready to point you in the right direction.
Parking is one of the biggest concerns for many cruise-goers. While it’s common to fly in or to hire an Uber or Taxi, you can choose to drive to the Los Angeles Cruise Terminals. However, the parking lots are busy and often full.
You can’t reserve space in the parking lots, they don’t require or allow reservations. Daily fee limits are $19 for standard-sized vehicles and $38 for oversized vehicles.
There are several parking lots, but the parking lots in the immediate area can fill up. There are parking alternatives, but it’s something to keep in mind if you are planning to bring your own vehicle.
For shorter visits, parking is $2 an hour.
The USS Iowa
Whether you take an additional tour, or just drive by, one of the coolest things you’ll see at the Los Angeles Cruise Terminal is the USS Iowa. The ship often offers a discount for cruise passengers if you want a closer look.
This famous ship lives right next to parking at the port. If you’re dropped off, you’ll drive past it on your way to boarding. If you park, you’ll see the ship while you shuttle from parking to the boarding area.
Even people who know nothing about naval battleships will enjoy getting to see the USS Iowa up close and personal. It’s a historic and storied battleship, and the whole thing is maintained for civilian tours.
This is a great destination, especially if you’ve already visited the Los Angeles Naval Museum, or have some time to kill before boarding.
Tips and Tricks for Navigating the Los Angeles Cruise Terminals
Whether you’re a cruise veteran or a newcomer, these tips and tricks will make your trip through the Los Angeles Cruise Terminals much easier.
Arrive Early for Every Step
Much like going to an airport, it’s important to plan extra time for every step of your journey.
If you’re arriving in LA by plane, plan to arrive quite a bit earlier than your boarding time. The day before is ideal, in case your flight is delayed.
Whether you’re driving yourself or arriving via taxi, plan to arrive at the port several hours before boarding. While you may be bored for a little while, this will make sure you have plenty of time to go through customs and find your way to your boarding area.
In case you haven’t looked it up already, the address for the Los Angeles Cruise Terminals is 100 Swinford St, San Pedro, CA 90731.
Print and Protect Luggage Tags Well in Advance
You’ll be provided printable luggage tags when you confirm your cruise. Make sure you print these out before leaving. Don’t count on print services at the port or in LA if you can avoid it. Trying to print your luggage tags and ticket information the day of takes time and energy better spent on the cruise itself.
Ideally, put all your luggage tags in ziplock or similar bags. Squeeze all the air out. Staple or zip tie these bags to your luggage. The plastic will protect the tags and help prevent your luggage being lost or delaying delivery to your room on the ship.
Big bags are a huge benefit for this process. Come with everything you and your family will need for a couple of hours after boarding prepped.
While luggage will be delivered to your room, it usually takes a couple of hours to arrive. You don’t want to be caught flat-footed and unable to enjoy the start of your cruise.
Some things to consider bringing on board with you:
- Swimsuits (and swim shoes if you have them)
- Phone and device chargers
- Your phones
- Photo ID
- Any and all Medications
Opt for Drop Off If You Can
One great way to expedite your boarding experience is to be dropped off instead of parking. Especially if you have local friends or family who can take you to the port, take advantage of that opportunity.
Uber and Taxis will also often offer drop off services, but the fees will be worse if you run into traffic or delays. The Los Angeles Cruise Terminal is notorious for traffic, so be prepared since you’ll likely have some delays at the port itself, as well as traffic on the way in.
One option, especially if you fly in the night before boarding, is to book with a hotel that offers a shuttle to the port. Many local hotels will offer busing to the ports, and this can be one of the most convenient navigation options.
For long cruises, you may find yourself daunted by the daily cost of parking your vehicle outside the Los Angeles Cruise Terminal. Fortunately, it isn’t your only option. You won’t even have to pay for vehicle storage or another parking lot.
Many local hotels offer an additional parking service for a small fee on top of your stay. While these fees may not be worth it for short cruises, think anything under 5 days, they’re a great value for longer cruises.
Especially when these hotels offer a flat fee, instead of a daily rate, you can cut your cruise expenses significantly by parking at the hotel and shuttling to the LA Cruise Terminal.
Los Angeles Cruise Parking FAQ
Your cruise ship will dock somewhere in berths 91-93. It’s important to be at your terminal early since boarding is quick and can be chaotic if you aren’t used to the boarding process.
There are two terminal buildings, with almost 3,000 square feet or docking space.
Fortunately, the cost of parking is standardized across the Port of Los Angeles. Your first hour is free, but each additional hour costs $2.00.
There are daily maximums as well, in case you’re leaving a vehicle parked during your cruise. The maximum, as of writing, for standard cars is $19.00. The daily maximum for oversized vehicles is $38.00.
Yes! Several shuttles run between the parking lots and the terminals, operating out of parking lots 6, 7, and 8. Unfortunately, those shuttles are not currently wheelchair accessible.
We’ve gone over everything you need to know before your next cruise out of the Los Angeles Cruise Terminal.
The Terminals themselves are pretty bare-bones, so plan ahead if you need water or snacks. Our tips and tricks include everything from boarding tips to preparation you can take before you ever leave home.
We’ve gone over a sliver of the attractions that can be found on Terminal Island and in the surrounding LA Waterfront. You’ll even be able to amaze friends and family with facts about the harbor’s discovery and the Lost Japanese Fishing Village that once occupied Terminal Island.
But, there’s one last thing missing. Enjoy your trip to the Los Angeles Cruise Terminals! Enjoy your cruise! Relax! Rejuvenate! And, take a little time to enjoy the Los Angeles Waterfront. You won’t regret it.