On April 12, Carnival Cruise Line marked the beginning of a multimillion-dollar renovation of its Long Beach Cruise Terminal with a “FUNstruction” groundbreaking featuring a ceremonial piece of drywall and sledge hammers.


“What’s exciting to me is this idea that Long Beach is essentially the largest cruise terminal in North America and that we’re going to grow,” Mayor Robert Garcia said. “We’re already seeing record numbers of visitors and tourists. We believe this expansion is only going to grow and continue to make that stronger and a larger part of our local economy.”

Officials and executives gathered for a “FUNstruction” groundbreaking ceremony for the Long Beach Cruise Terminal expansion by Carnival Cruise Line on April 12. The expansion will increase terminal size from 66,000 square feet to 142,000 square feet, allowing it to accommodate larger vessels. Pictured from left: Steve Goodling, president and CEO of the Long Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau; Carlos Torres de Navarra, vice president of commercial port operations for Carnival Cruise Line; Mayor Robert Garcia; and Duane Kenagy, interim chief executive of the Port of Long Beach. (Photograph by the Business Journal’s Larry Duncan)


Carnival unveiled designs for the terminal, which will increase space from 66,000 square feet to approximately 142,000 square feet, activating the entire geodesic dome structure, former home to Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose. Garcia noted the dome’s prominence as a Long Beach landmark, known by millions worldwide.


Carlos Torres de Navarra, VP of commercial port operations for Carnival Cruise Line, explained that the terminal expansion will increase passenger movement because the terminal will no longer be one-way.


“One of the challenges that we have always had here is it is a one-way terminal, meaning everybody needs to get out of the terminal before letting one guest in to get onto the ship,” Torres de Navarra said. “That has limited the size of the ships we have been able to deploy here.”


With the expansion, passengers will be able to check in while ships offload passengers, allowing larger ships to be utilized. Carnival currently operates three ships out of Long Beach: Carnival Inspiration and Carnival magination, which each offer three- and four-day Baja cruises, and Carnival Miracle, which operates weeklong Mexican Riviera cruises and 14- and 15-day cruises to Hawaii and Alaska.


In 2018, the larger Carnival Splendor will replace the Miracle and will result in the cruise line carrying more than 700,000 guests annually from Southern California on nearly 250 three- to 14-day cruises.


Duane Kenagy, interim chief executive for the Port of Long Beach, made special mention of the expansion’s addition of shore power, also known as cold-ironing, which allows docked ships to plug into the local electrical grid to reduce exhaust emissions.


“We applaud Carnival for its commitment to air quality and the improvements that you have planned,” Kenagy said. “At the Port of Long Beach, our goal is to lead the world in the most productive and sustainable facilities. So the Carnival project is helping Long Beach to thrive and keeping us on track to a bright, green future.”

During the groundbreaking ceremony, Carnival Cruise Line and the Carnival Foundation made a joint donation of $25,000 to the Mayor’s Fund for Education. Pictured from left: Mayor Garcia; Karissa Selvester, executive director of the Mayor’s Fund for Education; and Torres de Navarra.  (Photograph by the Business Journal’s Larry Duncan)


Carnival has run the Long Beach Cruise Terminal since 2003, making it the only privately operated cruise terminal in the United States. Ships dock at the facility five days per week, resulting in a more than 70% utilization rate, making it one of the busiest terminals in North America.


“I think, together with the expansion that Carnival is seeing, together with everything we are doing in our new development and in our master plan – I think it’s just a win-win for everybody,” Taylor Woods, principal at Urban Commons, leaseholder of the terminal property, said. “It creates a tremendous amount of synergy and allows people to spend more time in Long Beach, which is great for everybody.”


In addition to the groundbreaking ceremony, Torres de Navarra announced a donation of $25,000 to the Mayor’s Fund for Education. Carnival Cruise Line and Carnival Foundation made the donation jointly as part of the Carnival Corporation’s ongoing support of nonprofit education and charities within the communities it operates.


“For those of you who are unaware, the Mayor’s Fund is set up to help education and support our schools in Long Beach – in particular, supporting preschools,” Garcia said. “This contribution is going to help so many young minds and young kids and families have access to quality preschool. Thank you, Carnival, for your support.”


For more information about Carnival Cruise Line, visit www.carnival.com.

Brandon Richardson is a reporter and photojournalist for the Long Beach Post and Long Beach Business Journal.