Some of the most common destinations for those leaving from California include Mexico, Alaska and Hawaii. You'll also find cruises that go much further abroad, to places like the Panama Canal in Central America, South America and the South Pacific.
Click here to read about all the different cruise lines that leave from California and what destinations they serve. This page is more about the Southern California ports of call.
For comprehensive, hand-held cruise vacation planning, you can still depend on your favorite travel agent who can help you navigate through all the variables involved.
But it is becoming easier and easier to find great discounts by booking it yourself online through one of the many competing websites.
Some of the more popular cruise booking engines include cruisecompete.com, priceline.com and all-around travel booking giants like Expedia.com and Travelocity.com.
On cruisecompete.com, you choose the cruise you want, submit it, and then wait for cruise agencies bid their best deals to you via email.
Other online services include Orbitz, californiacruises.com, cruises.com, hotwire.com, Priceline and more.
You can also make bookings directly on the websites of individual cruise lines, but these aren't necessarily the best deals. Check around.
Before booking your cruise online, make sure the website, whatever it is, has a CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) and BBB (Better business Bureau) rating.
Sometimes the best prices can be had by booking far in advance or alternatively, last minute. (But then you may have to deal with last minute airfares, which can dampen your overall deal).
The more flexible you are with your cruise dates, departure ports and ports of call, the more apt you are to find the best bargain.
There are basically 5 cruise ship ports in Southern California: Long Beach, San Pedro, (both also referred to as Port of Los Angeles), San Diego, Catalina Island and Santa Barbara.
Catalina Island isn't a deep water port, where major cruises leave from, but more of a port of call for cruises from California. Short cruises leaving from Los Angeles or San Diego may stop here, often on the way to Ensenada, Mexico.
Once a ship anchors in Avalon Bay, the ship's smaller boats take you to the Catalina Boat Pier in Avalon. From there, it is a short walk to the Green Pleasure Pier, where many boating activities are available, such as the Glass Bottom Boat Ride and various boat rentals. There are also shops, restaurants and a small beach along the harbor.
Cruise lines that stop in Catalina include Carnival and Celebrity Cruises.
Port Of Los Angeles
When you think of taking a cruise ship into or out of Los Angeles, it generally means the Port of Long Beach, or the World Cruise Center in San Pedro.
Click here for information on cruises from Los Angeles.
You'll find everything from the luxurious Silversea Cruise Line to the fun filled Walt Disney Cruise Line.
Port Of Long Beach
Long Beach port is where the Carnival Corporation's cruise terminal resides. Most of the Carnival ships and the other cruise lines they own depart from here.
World Cruise Center In San Pedro
While Long Beach Port is the home of Carnival cruise lines, the Port of Los Angeles World Cruise Center in San Pedro is where the other cruise lines (not owned by Carnival) depart from.
Santa Barbara Port
Santa Barbara is a less frequently used port of call, not a major port where ships depart. Also known as the American Riviera, it's really beautiful, with the surrounding Santa Ynez mountains and the nearby Channel Islands out at sea.
Passengers get tendered into Sea Landing, which isn't too far from Stearns Wharf. Stearns Wharf is a pier with restaurants and shops. There's a trolley that can take you downtown, along the waterfront and up to the mission.
The Sapphire Princess' Coastal Sampler Cruise makes Santa Barbara one of their stops. Learn more about visiting Santa Barbara California.
Port Of San Diego
San Diego has a very busy port, with many cruise ships departing from there. Click here for information on cruises from San Diego.
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