Southern California cruise ship fans will get a special buzz on voyages to Mexico soon. Two new vessels that just floated out of ship builders' docks will be offering Mexican Riviera itineraries from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
South-of-the-border cruises are a staple for Southern California residents who have long been able to take mini-cruises or weeklong voyages from local ports. Itineraries sail to destinations such as Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlán.
But the ships have been vintage carriers for the most part. For the first time in 20 years, Mexico cruises will be offered on newly launched ships: Norwegian Cruise Line's Bliss, which will sail three voyages this fall and two in April 2019; and Carnival Panorama, which kicks off a year-round, seven-day Mexican Riviera schedule from Long Beach on Dec. 14, 2019.
Carnival Cruise Line began accepting reservations for the 133,500-ton Panorama last week; Norwegian has been accepting reservations for its five voyages for several months.
Bliss, which launches in April, will hold 4,000 passengers and features a two-story racetrack, galactic laser tag and a 180-degree observation lounge. Rates for the Mexican cruises start at $899 per person, double occupancy. The ship will also sail to Alaska this summer from Seattle.
Carnival Panorama will launch in December, 2019 and hold about 3,500 passengers. Rates for an inside room start at about $550 per person, double occupancy.
The ship's regular seven-day itinerary will include the ports of Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta. It will depart every Saturday from the newly refurbished Long Beach Cruise Terminal, which is housed in the 146,000-square-foot geodesic dome that once housed Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose airplane.
Panorama, currently under construction, will offer attractions like a bike-ride-in-the-sky attraction called SkyRide, a WaterWorks aqua park, and an adults-only area.