Four cruise ships were docked simultaneously at the Port of Los Angeles’ World Cruise Center on 5 January, while 13,000 passengers were conveyed to and from the vessels Golden Princess, Sapphire Princess, Crystal Symphony and Deutschland.

Although cruise traffic remains important for the California gateway, it has been falling steadily since the start of the recession, with only 153 ships and 755,000 passengers handled in 2010, a 36 per cent drop from 2008, and only 144 ships and 605,000 passengers are expected this year. Drug violence in nearby Mexico is adding to the problem, with some lines electing to leave Southern California ports entirely, in favour of more peaceful cruising areas.

This has seen Royal Caribbean International’s Mariner of the Seas choose Galveston, Texas as its 2011 winter base, while NCL’s Norwegian Star will reposition to Tampa, Florida in May. Next year Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Spirit will reposition to Australia in April to be based out of Sydney.