Long Beach to get West Coast’s first new Carnival cruise ship in two decades

A behemoth new cruise ship will sail into Long Beach next week, marking the first new Carnival cruise vessel to be based on the West Coast in 20 years.

The 133,500-ton Carnival Panorama departed from the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy on Nov. 1 and made its way around the tip of South America last month. After a 17,000 mile journey, the Panorama is scheduled to arrive Tuesday at its new home in Long Beach, where the ship will be greeted with a naming ceremony, followed by an inaugural, three-day sail kicking off Wednesday.

Starting Dec. 14., the ship departs every Saturday for week-long voyages to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas.

Famed gameshow hostess Vanna White from “Wheel of Fortune” will serve as godmother for the Panorama at Tuesday’s naming ceremony.

The Miami-based cruise giant’s newest ship can hold roughly 4,000 passengers—about a thousand more than Long Beach’s current Carnival Splendor, which will move to Australia. 

It features a Sky Zone trampoline park, a first-in-fleet culinary studio with cooking classes, a water aqua park, a “bike in the sky,” and a variety of dining venues.

Carnival has had a home base in Long Beach since 2003. In addition to bringing in significant dollars for the city via more tourists and passenger fees, officials said the new ship will make Long Beach one of the country’s busiest cruise ship terminals based on passenger traffic.

However, the ship hasn’t come without controversy. The plans for Panorama have received pushback from environmentalists concerned over the environmental footprint and impact from the city’s planned terminal expansion project.

The Long Beach Planning Commission last month approved an expansion plan that included adding 657 new parking stalls and reconfigured the traffic lanes to accommodate the influx of cruise passengers. The city has determined that the project will have no significant environmental impact, but environmentalists say it deserves a more thorough review.

Appealing to the Long Beach City Council on Tuesday, Jerilyn Lopez-Mendoza, with the Coalition for Clean Air, said the coalition is not necessarily opposed to the project but that the city should do a deeper review of the ship’s impact on air quality to “reinforce the trust” of Long Beach residents.

The City Council unanimously approved the project Tuesday. The project is next expected to go before the Port of Long Beach Harbor Commission on Monday.

Environmentalists, including Friends of the Earth, have also raised concern over a plan to dredge up 33,250 cubic yards of the ocean floor just east of the Spruce Goose Dome to make it easier to maneuver the massive ship. The dredging must first be approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

 

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Kelly Puente is a general assignment and special projects reporter at the Long Beach Post. Her prolific reporting has taken her all over Southern California—even to the small Catalina Island town of Two Harbors. She is a Tiki mug collector and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Cal State Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected].
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