Port San Diego is located in Southern California and on San Diego Bay. The port city was founded in 1542 by Spanish conquistadors. San Diego is approx 120 mi (190 km / 2-hours drive) from Los Angeles (direction south) and approx 350 mi (560 km / 5-hours drive) from Las Vegas.
As cruise port, San Diego CA is a major departure port / homeport for turnaround operations (roundtrip itineraries). The Port's cruise ship schedule offers convenient departures to ports in Hawaii and Mexico's Riviera cities. The most popular itinerary from San Diego is the 7-day "Mexican Riviera Cruise" visiting Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas. Longer voyages go to South America or the South Pacific (Australia-New Zealand).
San Diego Bay (where the cruise port is located) features a coastline with numerous luxury hotels. The port alone is the landlord for 17 hotels. Here are still operational 3x shipyards - NASSCO (National Steel and Shipbuilding Company), Huntington Ingalls (Continental Maritime) and BAE Systems (Southwest Marine). NASSCO is West Coast USA's largest shipbuilding yard. It specializes in building auxiliary and support vessels (for the US Navy), as well as oil tankers and dry-bulk cargo carriers.
Port San Diego CA
Port San Diego was established in 1962 as a public-benefit corporation. As cargo port, it is ranked one of USA's top 30 containership ports, with annual cargo shipping volume of nearly 3 million tons. For FY2017 (fiscal year), the port reported USD 9,4 billion impact to state's economy. Its business supports over 44,300 local jobs (shipbuilding, cargo operations, tourism, hospitality).
Port's largest / main terminals are 10th Avenue Marine Terminal and National City Marine Terminal.
- 10th Avenue Marine Terminal covers an area of 96 acres (39 ha). It has 8 multi-purpose berths. The imported cargo includes refrigerated food, fertilizer, cement, break bulk cargoes, forest products. There is a large, on-dock cold storage warehouse (sized 300,000 ft2 / 28,000 m2) used for storing perishables (including fresh produce).
- National City Marine Terminal covers an area of 125 acres (51 ha). It has 7 berths and is operated by The Pasha Group. Annually, here are handled over 450,000 vehicles. The terminal serves as primary port for imported cars (Honda, Acura, Isuzu, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Hino Motors, VW).
San Diego is the primary port for imported in USA vehicles (the brands Fiat, Audi, VW, Honda, Mazda, Acura, Isuzu, Nissan, Mitsubishi). The seaport holds a lease with Dole Food Company (importing much of USA's bananas).
San Diego cruise port is located downtown. Its main passenger termnal facility (B Street Pier) has 3 cruise ship berths. The historic Broadway Pier was redeveloped (inaugurated in December 2010) as second cruise-terminal. The list of largest cruise companies homeporting vessels here includes Holland America, Celebrity, Disney, Royal Caribbean, Carnival. Each San Diego roundtrip voyage results in an average USD 2 million in economic impact to California.
Most cruises leaving from San Diego are to Mexico. In early April and early November are also offered Panama Canal repositioning cruises. The port is often included in around the world voyages offered by companies like Costa, Oceania, Phoenix Reisen.
In the period 2002-2006, the cruise port reported a 44% growth in ship calls - from 122 (in 2002) to 219 (in 2006). In that period, the passenger numbers jumped from 276,000 to 619,000. In 2008, the port reported a record year with handled 252 cruise ship calls and over 800,000 passengers. In 2007, this business declined due to slumping US economy and the violence in Mexico.
In May 2013, the port was visited by its largest so far cruise ship - Celebrity Solstice. In 2016, the cruise port reported a 50% increase in ship calls. The growth was largely based on turnaround operations by Holland America and Disney ships.
Port San Diego reported a total of 69 ship calls during season 2015-2016 and scheduled 83 calls in 2017-2018. The increase in passengers was from 198,000 (season 2015-2016) to over 242,000 (2017-2018). The increased passenger shipping traffic was mainly due to Mexican Riviera itineraries. Previous cruise port statistics show 200 ship calls (season 2009-2010) and a drop to 79 calls (2012-2013).
In 2017, Disney Wonder had scheduled 13 San Diego departures. Princess ships visit the port on round-trip Mexican Riviera itineraries leaving out of Los Angeles. HAL-Holland America Line also cruises to Mexico Riviera ports, as well as Panama Canal transition and Mexico-Hawaii cruises leaving out of San Diego and visiting Ensenada (Baja California). For season 2019-2020, HAL homeported here a small fleet of 3 liners (Oosterdam, Eurodam, Maasdam) for 7-day Mexican Riviera itineraries visiting Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas and Mazatlan.
For season 2018-2019, the port handled 92 ship calls (83 calls in 2017) and ~242,000 passengers (8% increase over 2017). The projected growth in cruise passenger numbers is 5-8% a year - to 280,000 by 2020. In 2019, Walt Disney Cruises expanded company's San Diego homeporting season to 2 months. Also in 2019, the seaport celebrates its 250th anniversary.
For season 2019-2020, the cruise port had scheduled (berth bookings) 104 ship calls with expected ~338,000 passengers (295,000 more than 2018-19). Season's highlight is the return of Carnival Cruise Lines (last homeporting here in 2011) with Carnival Miracle (beginning December 1, 2019) for 12 roundtrips. Carnival's planned itineraries included 7-day Mexican Riviera; 14-15-day Hawaiian Islands, 3-4-5-6-day Baja Mexico.
In 2020, the port opened a second shore-to-ship power connection. Using power supply from the city's power grid, ship-shore power reduces bad emissions from vessels while berthed in port. After 2020, cruise companies with more than 5 ship calls in California are required to plug-in (use shoreside power supply) for 80% of the calls. The mark before 2020 was 70%.
Carnival stopped to homeport ships here in 2012. Carnival Elation was the first homeported year-round in San Diego (between 2007-2010), followed by Carnival Spirit (2011-2012, then relocated to Australia). Starting December 1, 2019, here was homeported Carnival Miracle (previously deployed in Tampa FL) for a 3-month season to Hawaii (14-15-day) and Mexico (5-7-day).
In late-July 2020, Port San Diego was approved by CBP (US Customs and Border Protection) to activate an FTZ (Foreign Trade Zone) at TAMT (10th Avenue Marine Terminal / 96-acres / 39-hectares site). The FTZ offers as business benefits duty reduction (in merchandise processing fees), deferral (flow savings until cargoes are imported/exported), logistical, cost savings. At the FTZ, equipment manufacturers can assemble components to create USA-made products, thus obtaining additional savings (duty drawbacks). As of 2020, San Diego County has 19x FTZx (mainly warehouses). The seaport has two cargo terminals - TAMT and NCMT (National City Marine Terminal) - both benefiting from the deep-water and well-protected harbor.
San Diego’s cruise industry is facing an economic hit as major cruise companies, from Disney to Holland America, are now cancelling scheduled sailings well into the remainder of 2020 due to the still serious threat of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
At a time when the port city would normally be getting ready to launch in September its fall-to-spring season, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has extended its no-sail order through September 30, while cruise companies have decided to take more aggressive steps, with some cancelling planned sailings into mid-December 2020.
Due to the global Coronavirus crisis, in 2020 Port San Diego lost 49 cruise ship calls (~174,000 tourists) or ~40% of the planned for season 2020-2021 (September-May) a total of 137 calls (expected ~450,000 tourists). The cancelled 49 ship calls (12 by Disney and 17 by HAL-Holland America Line) resulted in ~USD 79 million loss of revenues for the port city.
San Diego cruise terminal
San Diego cruise terminal is very close to downtown, being located at B Street Pier (at 1140 Harbor Drive). The Airport is just 5 mi (8 km) from the cruise port.
The “first green building” or the Port Pavilion at Broadway Pier also has a terminal.
It is used if more than 4 vessels are in port or if the "B Street" Terminal is not operational (generally due to maintenance works).
Both San Diego cruise port terminals offer a wide range of passenger-use facilities. Parking fees are USD 10–20 daily (Port Authority subject to change).
B Street Pier has 5x wharves. Wharf 1 and Wharf 2 are on the north side, Wharf 3 is on the west and Wharf 4 and Wharf 5 are on the south side. Wharves 1, 2, 4 and 5 can accommodate bigger cruise liners. Smaller vessels dock at Wharf 3. In October 2017, at B Street Cruise Terminal was installed a new passenger boarding bridge.
San Diego tours, shore excursions, hotels
City Tours and Shore Excursions
- USS Midway Museum: it is within 5 minutes walking time from San Diego cruise port, along North Harbor Drive. Discover the naval tradition of San Diego.
- San Diego Maritime Museum: amazing historic ships collection. It is north of San Diego cruise port. You will find ships like Berkeley, Star of India and Californian.
- Seaport Village: the best place for shopping. It is 2/3 miles away from San Diego cruise port.
- Embarcadero Marine Park: located just across Seaport Village.
- Balboa Park: 12,000 acres with 15 galleries and museums like San Diego Museum of Art and the San Diego Natural History Museum.. There is also the San Diego zoo, the Japanese Friendship Garden and the Inez Rose Parker Memorial Rose Garden.
- Gaslamp Quarter: the most attractive area of San Diego. It dates from 1867. Discover wide range of restaurants, fashion shops,sidewalk cafes,galleries, jazz clubs, nightclubs and bars. The Victorian atmosphere combines with a party atmosphere for an amazing experience.
- Spanish Missions: there 21 catholic missions. The first one is Mission San Diego de Alcala, known also as Mother of the Missions.
- Coronado Beach: you will need half an hour by ferry to reach Coronado island and discover that lovely beach.
- Cruise Industry
San Diego’s cruise industry is facing an economic hit as major cruise companies, from Disney to Holland America, are now cancelling scheduled...August 16, 2020
- Cruise Industry
CCL-Carnival Cruise Line announced new plans for its fleet expected to generate tremendous passenger excitement once the company resumes sailing...July 23, 2020
Three cruise ships are currently at sea and waiting for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to end, with dozens of ill crew onboard, Port San Diego...May 2, 2020
A cruise passenger and 3 crew members who arrived in San Diego CA on Monday have tested positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19). According to county...April 1, 2020
The RCCL-owned cruise liner Celebrity Eclipse is scheduled to disembark ~1500 passengers at Port San Diego CA on Monday, March 30, after South...March 30, 2020
Holland America Line's liner ms Maasdam arrived at Port San Diego on Thursday, March 26, with 800+ passengers. San Diego Port Authority...March 27, 2020
The Coast Guard medevaced a 28-year-old woman from a Princess Cruises' ship approx 160 miles (257.5 kilometres) west of San Diego CA on Tuesday...January 23, 2020
A Coast Guard helicopter crew have hoisted a possible stroke victim from a Viking Cruises ship off the Mexican coast and flew the woman to a San...January 2, 2020
Passengers onboard the Holland America ship ms Oosterdam had an extra day to spend in San Diego CA this weekend when propeller issues delayed the...December 9, 2019
- Cruise Industry
Carnival Cruise Line launched new California-Mexico itineraries from homeport San Diego. The liner Carnival Miracle is homeporting in San Diego...December 3, 2019
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