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Cruising from the West Coast is Getting Better

Travel Far and Wide without a Trip to the Airport

Cruising is the fastest-growing travel segment for good reason. While offering great value, cruises enable us to visit multiple destinations while unpacking only once; our floating hotels deliver us to the next place while we dine, enjoy entertainment and sleep.  

However, until recently, the options for cruising from our local Southern California ports were quite limited and mostly on older ships.

That has changed, ushering in a new golden age for cruises Laguna Niguel residents can take without flying. We have several shiny new ships filled with bells and whistles to breathe new life into classic routes like the famous “Love Boat” Mexican Riviera while offering fresh itineraries like 14-day Alaska cruises from San Pedro.

New Ships

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Bliss and Joy are beautiful new ships with 27 restaurants, top-flight entertainment, go-karts and laser tag. The options onboard actually compete for our attention with the destination, our prime reason for traveling. Cruising Alaska in the summer, these beauties do the Mexican Riviera and Panama Canal from September through April. Local note: The hull art on Norweigan Bliss is by the Laguna Beach’s marine art icon, Wyland. 

Carnival Cruise Line introduces its newest ship, Panorama, sailing from Long Beach in December. It will be the only ship doing seven-day Mexico cruises year-round, including summers when the other ships are in Alaska. This feature-packed floating resort offers families the most value-packed summer vacation imaginable. There is literally something for everybody including water slides, mini-golf and movies under the stars. The array of dining options range from classic steakhouse to sushi to Guy’s (Fieri of the Food Network) Burger Joint.

Princess Cruises has deployed one of its newest ships, Royal Princess, to Los Angeles, giving Princess loyalists the opportunity to do Mexico and Pacific Coastal cruises on one of the best ships of their favorite cruise line. 

Itineraries Going Far and Wide

Tests of Alaska cruises from Los Angeles have been so positive that Princess is doing an entire season of 14-day round-trip treks in 2020. The cost per day is phenomenal, similar to a seven-day cruise with flights to Seattle. So you can double your vacation and keep to your budget. Board the ship in flip flops and view glaciers in a couple of days—after being wined, dined and entertained along the way. What a spectacular experience! 

If you haven’t yet been to Alaska, you really need to go. Vast expanses of forests, soaring peaks and ever-present wildlife treat the senses like nowhere else. 

You also can cruise from Los Angeles (and San Diego) to warm places beyond Mexico’s west coast. The 15-day Hawaii round-trip is a popular one, but there also is a 28-day itinerary that goes to Tahiti, Bora and other French Polynesian islands—all without flights. These pristine islands have their own explosions of nature. 

As in Alaska, the water is as pure as you can find, but here it is much more comfortable to jump in, put on a mask, snorkel and fins, and peer into an underwater kaleidoscope of colorful fish, majestic sea turtles and playful dolphins. Did you know that the whales that summer in Alaska migrate to Hawaii for winter?

And don’t forget to look up. These remote islands have little ambient light and offer the best stargazing on earth. It's even better at higher altitudes of Hawaii Island’s Mauna Kea and Maui’s Haleakala. Alaska also offers stunning star-filled nights—plus a chance at seeing the Northern Lights.

In addition to these round-trip itineraries, cruise lines also offer a number of one-way cruises to and from the local ports. 

A classic is the 15-day Panama Canal, transiting that impressive engineering feat en route between Southern California and South Florida. Along the way are stops in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. Some cruises even continue up the East Coast to New York.

Ships departing San Pedro also head south to Santiago, Chile, on two-week cruises. Have another two weeks? You can continue around Cape Horn to Buenos Aires, Argentina. This itinerary provides immense variety from those adorable sloths in balmy Costa Rica to Chile’s chilly glacial fjords, penguins and Argentina’s iconic tango. In some cases, Antarctica is even touched.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, as cruise opportunities from Southern California, and around the world, keep growing. 

Chris Meyer is an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise partner. You can reach his team at 949.273.5444 or JShobe@CruiseShipCenters.com.

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