Los Angeles Seeks Input to Double Cruise Terminals with Outer Harbor 

Los Angeles cruise port
Princess Cruises' recently launched Discovery Princess is one of the largest cruise ships homeported in Los Angeles (Port of LA photo)

Published Jan 31, 2023 4:21 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Port of Los Angeles is looking to expand its cruise port operations by taking the first steps for the long proposed new cruise terminal which could double the port’s dedicated cruise operations. The step comes as the cruise industry has shown strong growth in Southern California as travelers sought “close to home” options for their vacations after cruising resumed during the pandemic.

“This cruise development initiative is critical to our business, our community, and the LA Waterfront, and we want to make sure it’s done right,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka. “Each cruise ship that calls the Port of Los Angeles generates more than $1 million into the local economy, so it’s important that we maximize our opportunities to bring more visitors and revenue into the community.”

The port experienced a dramatic rebound after cruising resumed in 2021. Los Angeles reports that it had 229 cruise ship calls in 2022, the most since 2008. Port officials further forecasted that cruise ship port calls are expected to rise to an estimated 250 by 2026 and include larger ships carrying more passengers. 

Los Angeles currently shares the cruise business with the neighboring Port of Long Beach where Carnival Cruise Line is based. Los Angeles is the home port to cruise ships from Princess Cruises as well as Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, and others. Norwegian’s 167,000 gross ton Norwegian Bliss and Norwegian Joy (1,096 feet in length) have been the largest cruise ships to be homeported in Los Angeles, but the port aims to expand its facilities to accommodate the largest cruise ships in the world.

The Port of Los Angeles is launching a two-step process for its cruise development. Today, January 31, they released a draft request for proposal providing an opportunity to comment before the final RFP is completed. Unlike other major ports, Los Angeles is proceeding independently instead of working with a specific cruise company for the development of a terminal. Miami, Port Everglades, and Galveston have partnered with the cruise lines to develop dedicated new terminals.

Los Angeles’ RFP scope includes development, redevelopment, and management of all cruise operations at the port. The planned project will entail the creation of a new Outer Harbor Cruise Terminal at Berths 45-51, a site that offers panoramic views of the coastline and Catalina Island. It consists of 13 acres of backland, two existing wharves, and 14 acres of associated off-site parking. The Outer Harbor area has two existing wharves, one measuring 900 feet with an at-berth water depth exceeding 45 feet, and the second berth is currently 900 feet with a current minimum at-berth water depths of 35 to 45 feet but has the potential to be extended up to 1,400 feet.

The existing World Cruise Center, referred to as the Inner Harbor Cruise Terminal site, consists of 22 acres, two existing cruise berths, two existing terminal buildings, and a baggage handling structure. The cruise berths are 800, 1,200, and 1,400 feet. In addition, Los Angeles raises the possibility of relocating the battleship USS Iowa, which is currently a museum in the port, to make an additional inner harbor berth available for cruise ships.

The RFP presents several different configuration options and requests input and proposals for the final design of the cruise terminals. Timing of the process they said is subject to market conditions.