New Carnival cruise ship expected to triple the number of passengers to Long Beach

The new Carnival Panorama, which set out for its inaugural sail Wednesday, is expected to generate more revenue and passengers for Long Beach, a city official said.

The 133,500-ton Panorama, the West Coast’s first new Carnival ship in two decades, will depart every Saturday for week-long voyages to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas.

The ship arrived from the Fincantieri shipyard Italy on Tuesday and was honored with a naming ceremony featuring famed game show hostess Vanna White from “Wheel of Fortune.”

Among the shiny new amenities is an on-board brewery, an indoor trampoline park, a “bike in the sky” ride and an outdoor water park with a 455-foot-long slide.

One of the many pools onboard the Carnival Panorama overlooking the Long Beach skyline on Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

A lounge on the Carnival Panorama. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

The ship, which holds roughly 4,000 passengers, also features a first-in-fleet culinary studio with cooking classes. On Tuesday, the studio was christened by celebrity chefs Rudy Sodamin, Guy Fieri and Emeril Lagasse.

Christine Duffy, President of Carnival Cruises, stands with Chef Rudy Sodamin, Guy Fieri and Chef Emeril Lagasse as they cut the ribbon on the cruise line’s newest themed kitchen on the Carnival Panorama. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

Acting City Manager Tom Modica on Wednesday said Carnival has generated significant revenue for the city since its arrival in 2003.

“It’s been a fantastic relationship and we’ve worked very closely with them over the years,” he said.

Modica said the Panorama is expected to log about 1.5 million passenger movements next year, compared to 425,000 passenger movements logged in 2003, when Carnival first arrived.

The growth means an economic boost from more visitors to the city, in addition to more passenger fees, which will directly benefit the Queen Mary, he said.

Through its contract with Carnival, the city receives about $3 per passenger. Modica said the city is now expecting to generate about $3 million annually through the passenger fees, which technically will go to Urban Commons, which operates the Queen Mary, to be used for historic preservation of the ship.

The city’s lease agreement with Urban Commons, which it signed in 2016, mandates that the fees go into a preservation fund, he said. Last year, the city and Urban Commons issued $23 million in bonds on the passenger fees to pay for urgent repairs on the aging ship.

“One of the great things about the lease is that it dedicates funds directly for historic preservation,” he said.

The Skyride on the Carnival Panorama which includes many outdoor activities on the Lido Deck. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

But not everyone has been happy about Carnival’s larger presence.

The ship and a planned terminal expansion project have received pushback from environmentalists concerned about air quality and the environmental footprint.

The Long Beach City Council, Planning Commission and Harbor Commission all recently approved a cruise terminal 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, including Friends of the Earth, have argued that the process deserved a more thorough review.

In June, the Carnival Corp. agreed to pay a $20 million penalty for violating the terms of probation from a previous criminal conviction for dumping oil waste from its Princess Cruise ships.

In a Harbor Commission meeting on Monday, said the company is dedicated to reducing its environmental footprint. They said the Panorama has many new environmentally friendly features, including the ability to plug into shore power, LED lighting and the use of reverse osmosis to recycle sea water.

Company representatives said the ship generates more than 800 jobs, for a total of $40 million in direct payroll.

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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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