Long Beach, California
Long Beach Cruise Terminal is approximately 23 miles from the Los Angeles International Airport and 12.5 miles from the Long Beach Airport (formerly known as Long Beach Municipal Airport). Renting a taxi is the easiest way to get from either airport to the cruise terminal. If you are staying in the area for a few days, then renting a car makes sense as this is a driving city.
Long Beach is located in southern Los Angeles County, bordering Orange County, in California. It is about 18 miles south of downtown Los Angeles. The terminal is owned by Carnival Cruise Corp. and services its cruise ships, including those of Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Seabourn Cruise Line.
There are many good hotels within a three-mile radius of the Long Beach Cruise Terminal, including the Hyatt Regency Long Beach, the Westin Long Beach, Renaissance Long Beach Hotel, the Hilton Long Beach, and the Courtyard by Marriott Long Beach.
The Queen Mary Hotel is also an excellent choice and is actually a 1930s Cunard cruise ship that, when it retired in 1967, was converted into a hotel and convention center. Carnival Cruise lines opened a terminal adjacent to the Queen Mary in 2003 and became the first cruise line to operate in Long Beach.
Sunny beaches, palm trees and surfers all come to mind when we think of Long Beach, but the city has lots to offer that doesn’t involve sand. Yet, for all of its charm, it has the unlucky position of being part Los Angeles, part San Diego and a little bit of Anaheim. So, if you’re leaving from this port, you have a wide choice of tourism possibilities. Within an hour’s drive, you can explore the Universal Studios Hollywood, Disneyland, Disney’s California Adventure and every major Southern California attraction.
But, it also has its own identity. Long Beach is a movie hub so keep your eyes peeled for celebrities hard at work on a movie or television set. It’s also a wonderful city for people-watching. From bikinis to business suits, the city is home to a diverse population living in unique communities such as Naples — with its ethnic restaurants, canals and gondolas, and bohemian feel.
Avid shoppers can indulge in downtown shopping, or take a short day trip to the nearby greater Los Angeles area. Prefer to relax? Gaze up at the picturesque downtown skyline from a sandy beach.
And for something completely different, Catalina Island is just a short journey away from the port. On the island you can explore the oceanfront shops in the town of Avalon, dine on local island cuisine, tour the island’s vast interior to see wild buffalo and dramatic coastline vistas. Hike trails to hidden harbors and inlets or discover the crystal blue waters teeming with colorful fish by kayak, sailboat or snorkel.
On Long Beach itself, with its seaside walkways and waterfront marinas, the community has set the standard for “walkability” and is an ideal spot for strollers and bikers alike. Within close proximity, you will find first class accommodations, shopping, numerous entertainment options and more than 100 restaurants within an eight-block area. It also has the Bikestation, the first facility of its kind in the U.S., located on the First Street Transit Mall, offering attended indoor bicycle parking (free during regular business hours) as well as professional repair services.
Head to the 4th Street Corridor in Long Beach where an assortment of funky boutiques, antique stores and vintage clothing shopping awaits. For day trip options, the greater Los Angeles region contains a plethora of world-class shops, while for those seeking a great bargain should drive one-hour north to the Camarillo Premium Outlets (740 E. Ventura Boulevard). Here, you’ll find high-end designer labels at discounted outlet prices. They’ve even got a Barneys New York Outlet and an Off 5th Saks Fifth Avenue.
Things to do:
See fish. The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach at the mouth of the Los Angeles River contains almost 1,000 different species. Visit the three permanent galleries and learn about the aquatic life of the Pacific Ocean. It also contains a life-size, 88-foot model of a blue whale, and is the only facility to have successfully bred Weedy Sea Dragons in captivity (100 Aquarium Way, 562-590-3100.)
Learn Latin. Long Beach is home to The Museum of Latin American Art with a vast collection of contemporary art. Founded in 1996, the museum’s mission is to provide educational and cultural programs to visitors (628 Alamitos Avenue, 562-437-1689.)
Get artsy. Visit the arts district in downtown Long Beach where independent stores sell everything from designer jeans to used books and retro furniture. Grab a coffee and a crepe, or go for sushi, and if possible, catch the art receptions and special events in the shops and galleries during the Last Saturday festival, occurring the last Saturday of every month. (Ocean Boulevard to the south, Long Beach Boulevard to the west, 7th Street to the north and Alamitos Avenue to the east.)
The exterior of the Long Beach Sports Arena, part of the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center, is home to the world’s largest mural. The 11,000-square-meter painting is entitled Planet Ocean depicts migratory gray whales and other sea life found near Long Beach. (300 Ocean Boulevard, 562-436-3661.)
For the “hip” visitor, Long Beach is home to the VIP Records store featured in several hip hop and rap music videos. In one video, Snoop Dogg — who was born and raised in Long Beach — stands on its roof, and since then, the store has become somewhat of a tourist destination (1014 E. Pacific Coast Highway, 562-591-2349.
— Ray Chatelin