Photos by Angela Truong.
Carnival Cruise Line celebrated its official grand reopening of the Long Beach Cruise Terminal renovation and expansion on Saturday.
Carnival had previously used only half the geodesic dome, once home to the storied Spruce Goose, but is now using the entirety of the space with the expansion. The renovation began in April 2017 to expand the cruise line’s usage of the space from 67,000 square feet to 146,000 square feet.
“We wanted to change the way that we sell the experience of the cruising to our guests and for more perspective, we wanted that experience to start the moment you walk through that door,” said Carnival Vice President Carlos Torres de Navarra during the event.
“It became apparent that they needed more than just half the dome and it’s just wonderful that all the entities involved with the city worked together with Carlos and with Carnival to make this happen,” said President and CEO of the Long Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau Steve Goodling at the grand reopening.
The company has had issues with operating what was a one-way terminal in the past. The first thing they did was take the previously unused section of the dome to create a larger footprint for baggage. They also added an embarking and debarking ramp for guests.
“We believe there is potential that is intact in this market and part of the development you see here is because we believe Long Beach and the surrounding area have a lot to offer,” said Carnival President Christine Duffy during the event. “Having great terminal facilities is important to be able to embark and debark guests at the same time, to be able to have a better and more efficient processing for check-in.”
The designs within the dome are inspired by Long Beach history. A model of the Spruce Goose now hangs above the terminal, while faux palm trees signify the number of Hollywood movies that were filmed there. Three arcade games are placed in the waiting area to the left side of the entrance. There is also a Captains Lounge for VIP or frequent guests.
“This is just the beginning and a foundation of the future growth that we have envisioned for the west coast. I think this is such a great start,” said Duffy.
The grand reopening of the terminal coincided with the announcement of Carnival Splendor’s return to Long Beach from Miami. Carnival Splendor will be in Long Beach along with the two sister Carnival ships, Carnival Imagination and Carnival Inspiration. Together the three ships will carry more than 600,000 guests from Southern California on 250 cruises within three to four days. Duffy announced that Carnival Splendor will be moving to Sydney in 2019 to become the largest year-round ship in Australia.
It was also announced that the company is undertaking a major project with Ensenada, Mexico where Carnival offers three- to four- day cruises from Long Beach.
“We have made a decision at Carnival as part of our commitment and belief in this market, we are going to be bringing our third Vista-class ship Carnival Panorama to be based year-round right here in Long Beach starting in 2019,” said Duffy.
Duffy added that their focus is to provide their guests with an enhanced experience when they’re onshore in Ensenada and that the project will include indoor and outdoor features.
This is the first time in 20 years that Carnival will position a brand new ship straight from the yard in Long Beach. Carnival Panorama will accommodate nearly 5,000 passengers at full capacity and will be the largest year-round ship ever based in Southern California. The cruise ship will have all the innovations that they had introduced in 2016 on Carnival Vista, officials said.
Torres de Navarra added that by the time Panorama shows up, there could be close to about 750,000 guests regularly flowing through the Long Beach Cruise Terminal. Carnival will be announcing details about the project in the future, which is expected to be available to guests by 2020.