Port of Los Angeles Seeks to Enhance and Expand

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As the home to one of the biggest cruise ports in the country, the Port of Los Angeles is preparing for the future – and this future includes the rise of mega cruise ships. 

Throughout its decades of service, the Los Angeles World Cruise Center – which is located within the port – has welcomed ships from mainstream cruise brands since 1907.

Most of these ships are more modestly sized – with the average vessel carrying around 3,000 passengers. The increasingly popular mega-ships can host over 4,000 cruisers at a time. 

The current largest cruise ship in the world – Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas – can accommodate 7,600 guests at maximum capacity.

The San Pedro-based cruise port needs to prepare for an expected increase in calls by mega-cruise ships with changes to its infrastructure – and the port has issued a request for proposals from vendors who are up to the task.  

The first part of the plan is to redevelop the existing World Cruise Center, which currently has two cruise berths, two terminal buildings, and a baggage handling structure that is shared by multiple cruise lines. 

As part of a recently approved San Pedro Waterfront Connectivity Plan, the port is also looking for proposals to build a new Outer Harbor Cruise Terminal, which will come with Berths 46 to 50 in San Pedro Bay. 

The proposed location also includes access to 20 acres of land that could easily be developed into a parking structure with more than 2,000 spaces. 

“Over the past 20 years, our Port has invested over $1 billion in enhancing, operating and programming LA Waterfront infrastructure,” said Mike Galvin, the Port’s Director of Waterfront and Commercial Real Estate Development. 

“These two proposed cruise terminal projects represent the next stage of that investment, and the continued transformation of the waterfront into a dynamic and multi-use visitor destination,” continued Gavin. 

It’s unclear when a vendor will be chosen or when the work will be completed, although proposals from interested firms are due by November 12, 2024. 

Demand For Cruises Out Of Los Angeles Is Growing

The Port of Los Angeles, which is located about 20 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, is arguably the more popular of the two major cruise ports in LA. The Port of Long Beach, which is only about 5 miles away, is often referred to as San Pedro’s sister port. 

In the past two years, the World Cruise Center has welcomed more than 200 cruise ships – with each vessel’s arrival generating more than $1 million in local economic activity – and a record number of cruise guests.

Cruise Ship at Port of Los Angeles
Cruise Ship at Port of Los Angeles (Photo Credit: Underawesternsky / Shutterstock)

“We have seen increased demand for cruises out of the LA Waterfront over the last several years, with a record 1.3 million cruise passengers in 2023,said Port Executive Director Gene Seroka.

Read Also: Los Angeles Cruise Port: Terminals, Getting Around, What’s Nearby

Of the two major ports serving the LA area, San Pedro is arguably the more popular option, likely because it seems to be a gateway to more destinations. 

While cruises out of Long Beach primarily sail to the Mexican Riviera, the World Cruise Center is the starting point for voyages to destinations like the Pacific Coast, the South Pacific, Alaska, the Panama Canal, and Europe, as well as Mexico. 

The other factor is that Long Beach primarily services Carnival Cruise Line, and occasionally ships operated by Carnival’s sister brands, while The Los Angeles World Cruise Center welcomes more of the major players in the cruise industry. 

Celebrity Cruise Line, Costa Cruise Line, Crystal Cruises, Cunard Line, Disney Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Viking Cruises, and Royal Caribbean all sail out of San Pedro.

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