PHOENIX — More travelers are looking for an oceangoing getaway.
AAA is seeing high demand from Arizonans for West Coast cruises out of San Diego, Los Angeles and Long Beach – the closest ports to Arizona – as well as San Francisco, Seattle and Vancouver.
Cruisers are booking trips well into 2024, AAA spokesman Aldo Vazquez said.
“Cruising was a popular vacation for many prior to the pandemic and seems to be gaining renewed popularity as ships return to sailing,” he said.
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Cruising has rebounded strongly
Cruise travel is making a comeback after the industry endured a year-and-a-half-long shutdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A recent survey from Cruise Lines International Association, a cruise industry trade group, found consumer intent to cruise is rebounding.
It said 63% of cruisers polled are “very likely” or “likely” to cruise in the next two years, while 69% of people who never cruised are considering a cruise vacation, a higher percentage than pre-pandemic.
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Global cruise passenger volume is predicted to surpass the 29.7 million people who cruised in 2019 by next year, Kelly Craighead, the trade group’s president and CEO, said in a statement.
“Cruising is accessible, responsible and experiential – making it the best way to see the world for people of all ages and interests,” she said. “With the support of an incredibly resilient community, the future of the cruise industry is bright.”
Cruises have broad appeal, in part because of their value and all-inclusive nature as hotel, restaurant and entertainment center all in one, Vazquez said.
What cruises leave from Southern California
Most cruises from California sail on itineraries to the Mexican Riviera, which encompasses several Pacific Coast towns known for sandy beaches with crystal blue waters, vibrant nightlife, ample watersports opportunities and stunning landscape views.
Port stops on Mexican Riviera cruises include Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, La Paz, Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas.
Cruises to Mexico from Southern California typically run shorter, while cruises to Alaska, Hawaii and Europe run longer because of the distances involved to get to the destination.
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Some cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean International and Carnival Cruise Line, offer short cruises to Ensenada that also stop at Santa Catalina Island, which is 22 miles off the California coast and only accessible by boat or plane. Catalina is known for its views, kayaking, paddleboarding, wildlife viewing opportunities and seafood restaurants.
Panama Canal cruises from Southern California stop in port cities along the man-made waterway that connects the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. These trips may include stops in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia.
Be aware that Panama Canal cruises are one-way sailings and do not return to California, so you’ll need a way to return home from where the ship disembarks.
Some northern Pacific Coast itineraries include stops at Victoria and Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada. But like the Panama Canal sailings, they aren’t round-trip.
Cruises to Hawaii are available from San Diego with Holland America Line and from Los Angeles with Carnival. The itineraries include five stops in four islands: Maui, Honolulu in Oahu, Kauai, and Kona and Hilo in Hawaii (the Big Island).
Carnival also has a two-week cruise to Alaska from Los Angeles. It stops in Sitka, Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point and Ketchikan, with one of the sea days including views of the glaciers and waterfalls along Tracy Arm Fjord. Near the end of the sailing is a stop in Victoria, Canada.
Reach the reporter at Michael.Salerno@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @salerno_phx.