“We came out of Covid stronger than we were going in,” said Chris Chase, marketing manager for the Port of Los Angeles.
The port now has year-round business from Royal Caribbean, which was in the works pre-pandemic, but is now a reality, he said.
“They were not in the Pacific market and we worked hard to get them to come back,” Chase said.
Add in bigger ships from Norwegian and more calls from Princess and the port expected to close out 2023 with 1.2 million guests and 220 calls.
Helping the numbers were some ships that needed a place to homeport, said Chase, with the Asia restart taking longer than anticipated.
Next year the port expects 10 calls from Viking and the return of Crystal, Chase noted.
“We are staying pretty stable going into 2024,” said Chase, with Los Angeles expecting about 1.1 million guests.
The Navigator of the Seas leaves for eight weeks to drydock in Singapore, impacting the numbers.
“We are getting back to our early 2000s numbers, before we took a big hit on the economic downturn and some of the issues in Mexico.”
He said he sees the growth continuing over the rest of the decade, with more and bigger ships driving the numbers.
A new second cruise terminal could be online by the end of the decade, with the port planning to issue an RFP in early 2024. Shore power will be installed ahead of time.
“Looking at the orderbook, the ships heading to the North American market are certainly not getting any smaller,” Chase said. “Looking into the next decade, we want to take advantage of the ships sailing in Alaska.”
The port has responded to the mix of transportation options changing and more demand for parking.
Chase said that some ships that were sailing pre-pandemic would average about 250 to 300 parked cars per sailing. That number is now about 400. One ship is seeing 800 parked cars per sailing.
“We have some offsite locations we are utilizing when necessary,” he said, adding that a new parking lot is also being built and that the potential site for the new cruise terminal was also being used as overflow parking with a shuttle system.