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Setting Sail: The Ultimate Guide to Los Angeles Cruise Ports

Navigator of the Seas docked at San Pedro cruise port, Los Angeles

Many cruise lines sail out of one of Los Angeles’ two cruise ports in San Pedro (World Cruise Center) or Long Beach. However, relative to the massive cruise volume in Florida, the Port of Los Angeles has smaller cruise ports with just 500,000 passengers annually.

If you have a booked a cruise out of L.A., in this guide, you’ll discover the options for getting to the different ports, cost of parking, and where to stay before embarkation day.

My wife Karen and I have sailed on both Carnival, Celebrity, and Princess out of Los Angeles to the Mexican Riviera. It’s the perfect winter getaway and a short flight for anyone living near the West Coast.

Los Angeles & Long Beach Cruise Port Locations

Both ports are located just a few miles from each other, with one in San Pedro and the other in Long Beach. 

Los Angeles cruise ports map
Los Angeles cruise ports map (courtesy of Google)

Long Beach Cruise Terminal is used exclusively by Carnival Cruise Line. We sailed on the Carnival Miracle to the Mexican Riviera out of Long Beach.

The Long Beach terminal has a lower passenger volume than San Pedro, but we had a great experience when we sailed. The staff were efficient, friendly, and got us boarded quickly.

San Pedro (World Cruise Terminal) handles other cruise lines and is just a short distance from Long Beach in case you happen to go take an Uber to the wrong cruise terminal!

Los Angeles is a popular cruise port for the millions of Americans living within a few hours’ drive or a short flight from L.A. It’s also favored by anyone living on the West Coast (including Canadians like us!). 

We have taken the short flight from Vancouver many times to Los Angeles to take a winter-break cruise. Our latest was a cruise on the Discovery Princess in January with Karen’s 81-year-old mum.

Should I Arrive The Day Before My Cruise?

If you are arriving in Los Angeles by plane, a common question is, “Do I need to arrive the day before I cruise?” The short answer is “YES!”

A ship docked at the Los Angeles cruise port, and signage at the port
Like it, PIN IT!

Our flight to Los Angeles is 2 hrs. 30 mins. Before COVID, we would fly in the morning of our cruise. Post-COVID, there have been high incidents of delays and canceled flights.

While you’ll need a hotel stay flying a day earlier, you won’t be at risk of missing your cruise.

You are probably okay to fly same day if you are coming from Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Francisco, or Sacramento. However, from these cities, you could as easily make the drive and pay for parking at the cruise port.

For cities like Albuquerque, Salt Lake City, or anywhere in Texas, even catching an early flight can be a problem. Karen and I fly down from Vancouver, Canada, and choose to fly the day before.

However, even catching an early flight, we don’t want the risk of being delayed and missing embarkation. On our last cruise, it was comical to hear the announcements for passengers who were late boarding.

If you are late for your ship leaving, your only option is to attempt to catch a flight to the next port and board the ship there.

Should I Book My Flight Through The Cruise Line?

Another option is to book your flight to Los Angeles through your cruise line. If you are the type of traveler who already uses a travel agent, this may be your best choice.

The cruise line arranges the flights and will get you to the cruise terminal. The advantage is that if your flights are late, the cruise line will ensure you get transportation to the cruise ship. 

If you are sailing out of Los Angeles and your first port is Cabo San Lucas, the cruise line would arrange a last-minute flight to Cabo. This would enable you to join the ship at the first port.

However, you may pay a higher price than directly booking yourself or using your airline points. There are several pros and cons, and we have never booked our flights through the cruise line.

On the other hand, if your first stop was Santa Barbara in California, you wouldn’t have far to go.

I generally would not book flights through the cruise line because we like to book online ourselves. However, you decide whatever works best for you and gives you peace of mind.

Which Cruise Lines Sail Out Of Los Angeles

The Long Beach Cruise Terminal is used exclusively by Carnival Cruise Lines.

San Pedro cruise terminal 91-92
San Pedro cruise terminal 91-92

The World Cruise Center in San Pedro is home to many other cruise lines, such as:

  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Cunard Line
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Oceania Cruise Line
  • Princess Cruise Line
  • Royal Caribbean Cruise Line
  • Regent Cruise Line
  • Seabourn Cruise Line
  • Viking Cruise Line

Los Angeles Cruise Port (World Cruise Center)

The World Cruise Center is typically busy, with often multiple ships sailing each day. Ports America has a handy website if you want to see what cruise ships are in port on the day of your cruise.

The World Cruise Center offers a jumping point to itineraries of the Panama Canal, Hawaii, Mexico, and Pacific Ocean crossings to Asia and Australia.

Touring the USS Iowa Battleship
Touring the USS Iowa

If you’re arriving a day early, consider touring the USS Iowa, visiting the Los Angeles Maritime Museum, or strolling the LA waterfront.

How To Get To Los Angeles Cruise Port (World Cruise Center)

The World Cruise Center is located at 100 Swinford Street, San Pedro, CA. The terminal is 20-23 miles (32-37 km) from the Los Angeles International Airport. 

Taxi prices can vary but expect to pay at least USD 65 or more if traveling from LAX International Airport to the Long Beach Cruise terminal. From Long Beach Airport, you’ll pay USD 35.

If driving from the North, take 405 South to 110 South. Then you will follow the signs to the World Cruise Center.

Parking At The World Cruise Center

San Pedro cruise port entrance
San Pedro cruise port entrance

The parking area is next to the terminal and costs USD 20 per day. For a 7-day cruise, you can expect to pay USD 140. There are no discounts for weekly parking.

If you are close enough to drive to the cruise terminal, bringing your own car will save you the cost of airfare! If you have stayed overnight at a hotel, some offer discounted parking rates for cruise guests.

How Many Ships Can Dock At San Pedro?

This LA cruise port has two terminals, berths 91 to 93. Berth 93 can accommodate one vessel. The other terminal can dock two smaller ships at berths 91 and 92. Larger vessels dock here and take the space of two ships. Both terminals are covered, should it rain.

On the rare occasion, San Pedro sees three ships which can’t dock at these two terminals. So, they utilize berth 46, much further away. Since berth 46 only sees a ship once every seven months, the port creates a makeshift passenger terminal from large tents.

Makeshift terminal at berth 46 at San Pedro, Los Angeles
Makeshift terminal at San Pedro’s berth 46

So, if you’re embarking at berth 46, make sure your shuttle, taxi or rideshare takes you to the correct place. If you’re left at berth 91-93, complimentary shuttles will transport you to the right area.

If rain is forecasted for embarkation day and you’re boarding at berth 46, cruise passengers line up outside the tents. So, wear a raincoat and bring an umbrella.

Our embarkation at berth 46 was chaotic with long lines waiting to drop off luggage. Then another line to check in. After check in, we were told to get back on a bus to drive the few hundred feet to board the ship. We chose to walk.

World Cruise Center Accommodation

There are several options very close to the World Cruise Center. Here are some we recommend.

Exterior of the Crowne Plaza Los Angeles Harbor Hotel
Crowne Plaza Los Angeles Harbor Hotel

Crowne Plaza Hotel Los Angeles Harbor – It’s under a mile from the cruise port and a favorite among cruisers. The Crowne Plaza provides a port shuttle if needed and has an inhouse restaurant.

It offers stay and park packages for cruise guests. Parking costs USD 15 per night, a nice savings over cruise port parking.

Vagabond Inn San Pedro – Complimentary continental breakfast included, and just a 3-minute drive to the World Cruise Center.

The West Harbor Inn – Port of Los Angeles San Pedro. it’s just 1.2 miles (2 km) to the cruise terminal. Good value in a modest hotel.

If you’re flying in on a late flight, staying at a hotel near LAX makes more sense. 

Long Beach Cruise Terminal

Long Beach cruise terminal
Long Beach cruise terminal

The Port of Long Beach is used solely by Carnival Cruise Line, offering Mexican Riviera Cruises or short getaways to Catalina Island and Ensenada, Mexico.

The dome-shaped structure provides embarkation, debarkation, and security services. You’ll find it next to the RMS Queen Mary. 

The Queen Mary is an original ocean liner that sailed across the Atlantic Ocean from 1936 to 1967. It was owned by Cunard-White Star until 1967 when it was purchased by the City of Long Beach. 

Converted to a hotel, accommodation, and tours were available until the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020. The cost of maintenance and required repairs may ultimately lead to its permanent retirement.

RMS Queen Mary at Long Beach
RMS Queen Mary

How To Get To Long Beach Cruise Port

The Long Beach Cruise Terminal is located at 231 Windsor Way, Long Beach, CA. You can contact them by phone at (305) 599-2600 ext. 35015.

The terminal is 23 miles (37 km) from the Los Angeles International Airport. Expect to pay USD 65+ for a taxi from LAX and USD 35 from Long Beach Airport.

Uber prices can vary but expect to pay about USD 35+ if traveling from LAX to the Long Beach Cruise terminal.

If driving from the North, take 405 South to 710 South. Note that the 710 Freeway ends at the Long Beach port, so then you will follow the signs to the cruise terminal.

If driving from the South, take I-5 North to 405 North. Next, take the 710 Freeway to the end at the Long Beach Cruise Port. Follow the signs to the cruise terminal.

Parking At The Long Beach Cruise Port

If driving your own car, you can pay to park during your cruise for approx. USD 23 per day. As a result, for a 7-day cruise, expect to pay USD 161 or more.

Carnival Miracle docked at the Long Beach cruise port
Carnival Miracle docked at Long Beach cruise port

Accommodation Near the Long Beach Cruise Port

There are several hotels or accommodations near the Long Beach Cruise Port. As mentioned earlier, I would recommend flying in the day before your cruise just to be safe.

For the cost of a 1-night stay at a local hotel, you will have peace of mind and be guaranteed you won’t miss your cruise. 

Here are some hotels that you can stay at near the Long Beach Cruise Terminal:

Hotel Maya Long Beach – Very close to the Long Beach port. Hotel Maya also has a cruise terminal shuttle with continental and American breakfast options.

Residence Inn Long Beach in downtown. This hotel is less than a mile from the cruise terminal. They offer a complimentary hot breakfast.

Best Western Plus Hotel at the Convention Center. When staying here, you will get a hot buffet breakfast. A complimentary shuttle to the Long Beach Cruise Terminal is included.

Hilton Hotel Long Beach – This Hilton Hotel offers a complimentary cruise shuttle.

Final Thoughts

Los Angeles is an incredible city to visit and one of our favorite ports to cruise out of. Due to its convenient location on the West Coast, it’s a short flight for anyone on the West Coast of the United States. 

On our first cruise, we extended our stay a few days so we could take in Universal Studios and Disneyland before flying back to Vancouver. It was great fun with memories to last a lifetime!

Unless you are sailing on Carnival, you will always cruise out of the World Cruise Center in San Pedro. Located in Southern California, the Lost Angeles Cruise Terminal is the perfect embarkation for winter cruises.

I hope this guide helped to answer some of your questions so you can have a hassle-free cruise. 

Navigator of the Seas at the Los Angeles cruise port