Photo by John Schreiber.
Carnival ship at Long Beach terminal next to Queen Mary. Top of terminal’s white dome can be seen just behind Queen Mary. photo by John Schreiber.

Even the home of Howard Hughes’ enormous, legendary wooden “Spruce Goose” is now too small for Carnival Cruise Line ships.

So Carnival Cruise Line Monday announced an agreement with landlord Urban Commons and the city of Long Beach to expand the Long Beach Cruise Terminal facility to accommodate larger ships and enhance its terminal operations.

The deal will nearly triple the size of Carnival’s current terminal facility from 66,000 square feet to 142,000 square feet, according to the cruise line.

Carnival has operated at the Long Beach Cruise Terminal since 2003 using a partial area of the massive white Geodesic Dome that was the former museum housing Howard Hughes’ “Spruce Goose” attraction.

“The agreement gives Carnival 100 percent use of the Dome, allowing for larger ships and providing additional space needed to accommodate two-way operations, enabling embarking guests to access the terminal prior to completion of disembarkation,” according to a Carnival statement.

Construction is slated to be completed late next year.

The famed eight-engine “Spruce Goose” was the largest airplane ever constructed at the time it was built. It made only one flight, with Howard Hughes as pilot in 1947. It was a tourist attraction next to the Queen Mary for years until it was sent to Oregon, arriving in 1993 where it remains on display. The aircraft’s home was then later turned into a passenger liner cruise terminal.

“For years we have been working toward reaching an agreement to expand the Long Beach Cruise Terminal to accommodate larger ships on the West Coast, and we’re thrilled to finally be able to move forward with our plans to assume full usage of the Dome, making Long Beach one of our largest homeport facilities,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.

Mayor Robert Garcia said the expansion of the Carnival Cruise terminal “is great news for Long Beach and great news for visitors to our city.”

“The added capacity will bring more tourism and economic activity to Long Beach, and we’re pleased to continue working with Carnival for many years to come,” he said.

Plans include expansion of portside cold-ironing capacity to accommodate larger vessels. The technology enables cruise ships to plug into the local electric grid and reduce exhaust emissions while docked.

Carnival is also working with Urban Commons on enhancements to the area surrounding the dome and the adjacent Queen Mary attraction, as well as ways to expand parking capacity to accommodate future growth.

Currently, the Carnival Inspiration and Carnival Imagination operate year-round, three- and four-day Baja cruises from Long Beach, while Carnival Miracle sails seven-day voyages to the Mexican Riviera and 14- and 15-day cruises to Hawaii and Alaska.

—City News Service

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