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Port Review: Long Beach, California, USA

Joanna Hall

Although it's regarded by some as an outer suburb of Los Angeles, locals of Long Beach think differently, dubbing their beach home the “Aquatic Capital of America”.

The Facts

Location: On the west coast of the USA in southern California.

Language: English.

Currency: US Dollar.

Docking/Anchoring: Cruise ships dock at the Long Beach Cruise Terminal next to The Queen Mary.

Transport: As this is largely an embarkation/disembarkation port, there are usually taxis at the terminal when a ship is in port. There are also shuttles to take you to the airport.


Long Beach undeniably is a little big city with it all. The esteemed lineup includes 10 kilometres of beaches, its own local airport, a huge harbour, great shopping, dining, and plenty of wide open spaces, which lead it to being voted one of America’s most walkable cities. Long Beach is also an underrated destination which blends the urban sophistication of a big city with the relaxed vibe of a beach resort. Many people recognise photos of the city thanks to the iconic Queen Mary, the original liner aptly docked next to the Cruise Terminal and operating today as a hotel, but the city has eight distinct neighbourhoods tucked away behind the waterfront. It also enjoys a prime location between bustling Los Angeles to the north, and the theme parks and famous beach communities of Orange County to the south.

Don’t Miss

The Aquarium of the Pacific is the place to take a trip through the world’s largest ocean, where you will meet over 11,000 animals in over 50 exhibits, touch shark and ray species, and get up-close with a penguin. It’s especially great for kids.

If you’re a true fan of cruising you have to visit the iconic ship-cum-hotel, The Queen Mary, at least once. The full experience includes a Behind The Scenes Guide Tour including areas not open to the general public, or you can just come for a look around her public areas, and enjoy a light lunch or a cocktail.

Catalina Island is just an hour away by ferry, and a great place to enjoy a spot of snorkelling, dining, shopping, and panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean back to the Southern California coastline. Ferries depart from the Port of Long Beach.

Battleship Iowa is a site where you can truly celebrate the American spirit. A real ship museum, it’s the west coast’s only battleship open to the public, a ship which takes you on a virtual journey through history including World War II, the Korean War and the Cold War.

Best Photo Op 

The sail in or sail out to Long Beach, or to Catalina Island, or back from Catalina Island on a good weather day will probably give you the best photos of this great beach city. However, for cruise fans it’s also hard to beat a photo of the Queen Mary either from a distance or up close. 


Being a US city there are plenty of shopping ops at almost every turn, and Long Beach has no shortage of specialty shops, markets and trendy fashion stores to choose from. The best places to flex your wallet include Downtown, Fourth Street for funky flair, and Second Street’s boutique shops. 

Food and Drink

Pick a cuisine type and Long Beach has it. You can eat on the Queen Mary too for something a bit different, and there are plenty of outdoor cafes and restaurants from which to soak up the good life, while enjoying Mexican, Moroccan, steaks and ribs, Chinese and more. Just get out on foot and explore, and go where your fancy takes you.

Pick Of The Excursions 

As Long Beach is largely a jumping on and off point for a Carnival cruise you may only have time to explore on your own for a few hours. However there are free Long Beach Transport Passport buses which connect all the must-see attractions, and local buses which take you to some of the city’s neighbourhoods such as Belmont Shore and Alamitos Bay for a nominal fee. If your ship offers you a disembarkation city tour ahead of a late afternoon or evening flight, it is worth considering.


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  1. Posted by on 8th Jul 2019 Verified Customer

    Don't Bother With Queen Mary 3 Star Review

    Our family stayed here before a mexico cruise with carnival a few years ago, we did one night at the queen mary and it was super creepy and noisy and you could near everything in the room next door! Better in a nice resort nearby.

  2. Posted by on 8th Jul 2019 Verified Customer

    Never Cruised 4 Star Review

    I have never cruised but have to admit I've been reading up on your port reviews and cruise ideas and the concept is growing on me. That could make a nice wedding anniversary trip with a difference for next year what's the most romantic ship and place to cruise? Any suggestions welcomed.

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