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Royal Caribbean's new home port should get West Coast cruisers excited

March 17, 2021
5 min read
Navigator of the Seas
Royal Caribbean's new home port should get West Coast cruisers excited
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In a big development for West Coast cruising, Royal Caribbean on Wednesday announced plans to base a ship in Los Angeles -- something it hasn't done in a decade.

The world's largest cruise line said its 3,386-passenger Navigator of the Seas would sail year-round to Mexico from the city starting in June 2022, offering a range of three- to seven-night voyages.

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Royal Caribbean said the voyages would include three-, four- and five-night trips that feature a mix of stops in Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and California's Catalina Island. The ship also will operate some longer, seven-night holiday sailings to Mexico.

The voyages will go on sale the week of March 29, the line said.

“We’re excited to return to Los Angeles to add bigger, bolder vacation options along the West Coast," Royal Caribbean president and CEO Michael Bayley said in a statement accompanying the announcement. "With a ship like Navigator of the Seas, complete with waterslides, activities from day to night and a lineup of restaurants, bars and lounges, friends and families alike are in for a memorable getaway.”

Sailing since 2002, Navigator of the Seas isn't a new vessel. But it underwent an unusually massive, bow-to-stern makeover in 2019 designed to transform it into the king of short-haul cruises out of its current home, Miami.

Related: The best credit cards for booking cruises

The new pool deck on Navigator of the Seas. (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

The overhaul brought the ship such brag-worthy features as the longest waterslide at sea and the only headfirst mat racer waterslide at sea.

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The ship also got a completely revamped pool zone complete with a three-level bar hangout called The Lime and Coconut. Other changes included the addition of glow-in-the-dark laser tag (set in the ship’s ice-skating rink during the daytime and offered as an activity at no extra charge) and an escape room, plus a bunch of new dining and drinking venues.

Royal Caribbean executives have said the changes to Navigator of the Seas were designed to wow newcomers to cruising, who often start out with short cruises out of Miami. The ship's move to Los Angeles for short sailings will no doubt help the line bring in more first-time cruisers on the West Coast.

In deploying a ship year-round to Los Angeles, Royal Caribbean is going up against Carnival Cruise Line, which currently is the leader in cruises out of the Los Angeles area by a wide margin. Carnival traditionally has based three ships in the Los Angeles area year-round for sailings to Mexico and Hawaii, with departures out of the Port of Long Beach.

Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas is home to The Blaster, the longest water slide at sea. (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean).

The announcement also comes as cruise lines eye more "close-to-home" sailings in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, which has shut down most cruising around the world for a year. Short sailings out of Los Angeles that Californians and other West Coasters can reach in a few hours by car fit right into that trend.

Los Angeles is one of the biggest cruise hubs on the West Coast. But it doesn't compare in size as a cruise hub to such East Coast cruising centers as PortMiami and Port Canaveral in Florida.

This is, in part, due to the limited number of cruise destinations that can be reached in a few days of sailings from Los Angeles. Most cruises from Los Angeles are to the West Coast of Mexico, known as the Mexican Riviera -- a region that has a limited number of port towns suitable for cruise ships.

Other West Coast cruise hubs include Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, which serve as the bases for summer cruises to Alaska.

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Featured image by Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more