Where Else Do the Cruise Ships That Visit Here Go?

The cruise ships that stop in Santa Barbara—what kind of routes are they on? Are there many other ports on the West Coast? —F.

The Waterfront Department‘s fall cruise schedule—ships are also allowed to come in the winter and spring, but not “typically” in June, July, or August—includes 13 visits between September 29 and November 10. (The winter season starts in January but sees few ships because of the weather; the busier spring season begins in March.) The ships arrive between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. and depart between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

For this fall’s remaining visits, most of the itineraries are a week long and start in L.A. or San Francisco, with additional stops at Catalina, San Diego, and/or Ensenada. Sometimes a longer cruise drops in, such as the 20-night Norwegian Sun one from Seattle to Port Canaveral, via the Panama Canal.

The argument for allowing cruise ships is economic. From a recent Independent article:

According to Waterfront Director Mike Wiltshire, the Cruise Ship Subcommittee has been meeting the past 18 months looking for ways to improve the program, but no recommendations have been released. Wiltshire added that a new economic study on the impacts of cruise-ship tourism is now underway and should be released in November. Two prior studies—one in 2013 and another in 2016—concluded that cruise ships generated an addition $2.4 million and $3.9 million, respectively. Wiltshire noted that the Waterfront Department collects $500,000 annually in fees collected directly from the cruise ships,” which pay the city $10 per passenger.

The argument against them is environmental. Take it away, Friends of the Earth:

Cruise ships are a catastrophe for the environment—and that’s not an overstatement. They dump toxic waste into our waters, fill the planet with carbon dioxide, and kill marine wildlife. […] Unfortunately, everything that cruise ships come in contact with are likely to be harmed along their journey. The air, water, fragile habitats, coastal communities, and wildlife are all affected. But most governments have refused to take actions to actually regulate the cruise industry and buried their heads in the sand to ignore the ongoing damage to the environment and communities.

Not all governments are ignoring the threat. The Wall Street Journal ran an article last month about port cities that are pushing back. Not mentioned is one closer to home: as of earlier this year, the city of Monterey has begun actively discouraging future visits. From an article in the Monterey Herald:

The Monterey City Council voted 3-2 Tuesday night in favor of terminating passenger landing services for incoming liners. […] Though not an outright ban on cruises—the city doesn’t have the authority to make that kind of sweeping decision—the council’s vote Tuesday means the city will not station staff at Monterey’s public wharf to help receive and process cruise ship passengers. City officials said they hope the decision will lead cruise lines to stop calling at Monterey Bay.

Got a question you’d like investigated? Email [email protected] or text 917-209-6473.


Previous Burning Questions:
••• What’s happening with the Pepper Tree Inn?
••• What is this large memorial in Ennisbrook?
••• What’s the large building under construction next to Highway 101?
••• Who bought the former St. Mary’s seminary—and why?
••• What will happen to the SBPD building when the new building is completed?
••• How does the city decide to mark bike lanes?
••• What’s the story with this house on W. Cota Street?
••• What are those little houses on Santa Barbara Street?
••• Which Highway 101 exits are getting renamed?
••• Is the Music Academy of the West adding pedestrian gates?
••• Why does the Coast Village Road median look so bad?
••• What’s the point of this light pole near the freeway?
••• Why are the city’s parking lots scanning license plates?
••• What’s inside Paseo Nuevo’s State Street tower?
••• What’s the point of these markings on Laguna Street?
••• Why is there a giant red shoe off Highway 101?
••• Are we no longer allowed on the SBHS baseball field?
••• What does “SBTP” on this post mean?
••• What’s up with the “no e-bike” signs on local trails?
↓↓↓ Why is Franceschi House in a holding pattern?
••• Why is there a train station inside this State Street storefront?
••• What’s happening with this derelict house in Summerland?
••• Why is there wood on some power lines?
••• Can you explain how sundowner winds work?
••• Why is there a pressure cooker attached to this utility pole?
••• What’s this concrete ramp thing on East Beach?
••• Why does “USA” get written on the street?
••• What are those poles in the ocean near the Ritz-Carlton Bacara?
••• Are people really allowed to set fires in the middle of Montecito?
••• What’s the story with the half-finished lot next to the Montecito Country Mart?


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I am in agreement with the folks in Monterey. The economic impact seems slight and the environmental impact while likely overstated is real. Okay I’ll admit to being a snob and cruise ships and all they stand for is just not how I view our community!


Hilarious – for pete’s sake, let people enjoy cruising the beautiful coast of California! These same people who poopoo the ships also poopoo oil derricks yet drive cars. The logic is skewed and not at all invisible. LIVE LIFE AND SAVOR WINE- you don’t live forever!

Sam Tababa

The city of SB is addicted to tourism tax revenue. They need it in order to pay for the bloated staff and decades of overpromising and overspending. The City of SB has a pension liability in the high 9 figures. That means it has committed more $ than it has or will have… They push for cruise ships and more hotels because it fills their budget holes and buys them time to kick the can down the road to your kids and grandkids. One day the bill will come due, but it wont be on their watch or on their dime. They’ll be enjoying their large pensions and their lifetime of medical care while your kids suffer through austerity.