Carnival will offer guests a unique chance to journey through the Panama Canal in early 2018 when it moves one of its larger ships from Miami to Long Beach as part of the cruise giant’s planned expansion in Southern California.
On Jan. 14, 2018, the 3,006-passenger Carnival Splendor will embark on a 13-day cruise from the East Coast to the West, becoming the first Carnival ship to pass through the canal’s new lock system. The trip will include stops at ports in the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America.
Once the vessel reaches Long Beach, Carnival will begin offering seven-day cruises through the Mexican Riviera aboard Splendor, which will replace the Carnival Miracle as part of a 41 percent capacity increase to the line’s weeklong cruises from the West Coast. It will also offer 14-day Hawaii cruises round-trip from Long Beach.
The expansion is part of a deal reached with the city and Urban Commons, a real estate firm that recently took over a lease on the Queen Mary. The agreement allows Carnival to expand cruise operations to use the entire 142,000 square feet of the Queen Mary Dome, formerly home to the Spruce Goose. The cruise line has been using a portion of the dome for its operations since 2003.
Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, said the Long Beach expansion is a deal years in the making.
“Long Beach is a highly convenient and popular homeport and we’re delighted to provide our guests with exciting new year-round cruise vacation choices aboard a newer, larger ship in this market,” Duffy said in a statement. “At the same time, we’re also very pleased that we’re able to expand our terminal facilities in Long Beach with full utilization of the dome, which will ensure we can provide our guests with a high quality and efficient experience at the port.”
Urban Commons recently unveiled plans to renovate the interior of the Queen Mary and develop the 42 acres of land around it. Under the new agreement, the firm has also promised to build a replacement terminal for Carnival in the next five years, which will allow Urban Commons to regain full use of the dome in the future.
Courtney Tompkins is a writer for the Press-Telegram and can be reached at email@example.com.