By: Cory Bilicko
Passengers waiting to board ships at the Long Beach Cruise Terminal will soon have a comfortable, inviting area in which to lounge, and larger cruise liners docked at the shore will have better, “greener” access to the local electricity grid now that Carnival Cruise Line is undertaking a multi-milllion-dollar renovation of the facility inside the dome that once housed The Spruce Goose.
Carnival officials said the renovation will enlarge the space the company currently occupies in the facility from approximately 66,000 square feet to 142,000 square feet. Carnival, which has operated the terminal since 2003, has been using only a portion of the geodesic dome for customs and guest check-in activities. The renovation will make the entire dome available for the company’s cruise operations.
Carnival representatives and city officals marked the beginning of the renovation with a press conference and ceremony Wednesday afternoon at the facility.
Carlos Torres de Navarra, vice president of Commercial Port Operations for Carnvial Cruise Line, provided some background information on the project and said the renovation will allow guests to have better experiences at the boarding site, which he said is the busiest cruise terminal in North America.
“One of the challenges we’ve always had here is, as we’ve brought continually larger ships, because it is a one-way terminal, everybody needs to get out of the terminal before we can let one guest [onto] the ship,” he said. “That has limited the size of the ships we’ve been able to pull here. So, with these terminal improvements and the assumption of the rest of the dome, now we have the ability of all those guests that want to come into the terminal to check in, sit down and relax while the [returning] guests are coming off the ship, and they can wait in a comfortable environment. We all know that it doesn’t rain in Southern California, but, for whatever reason, on days that we have ships here, it rains.”
Torres de Navarra said the reason his company is taking on the renovation is twofold: the upsides of cruising from Long Beach, of which, “the sky’s the limit”; and cold-ironing technology, which enables ships to connect to the local electric grid and reduce exhaust fumes while docked.
“And that’s something that’s not only a commitment to the City of Long Beach, but it’s also a commitment to the people of Long Beach but also to the environment in general,” he said.
Mayor Robert Garcia was also at the event and said seeing the historic, iconic dome being used in such a way is “a good moment for the city.”
“This space has truly been underutilized and not really had full operations since the grand airplane that was in this building left,” Garcia said, referring to the wooden strategic airlift flying boat designed and built by the Hughes Aircraft Company. “So, this really marks, I think, a special moment for the city as well, to really use the space completely year-round.”
Further enhancements to the area surrounding the geodesic dome that houses the cruise terminal and the adjacent Queen Mary attraction are also planned.
Torres de Navarra also announced Carnival Cruise Line and Carnival Foundation’s donation of $25,000 to the Mayor’s Fund for Education.