When compared to popular destinations like the Bahamas or Bermuda, you won't find too many cruises that visit the California coast, as these are typically offered only once or twice a year as repositioning cruises. Popular California ports of call include Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Santa Barbara. These cruises will often either include a stop in Mexico or start or end in Vancouver.
Princess Cruises Seven-Night Pacific Wine Country
Princess Cruises offers the biggest selection of California coast cruises. Wine lovers will want to take note of the seven-night Pacific Wine Country itinerary that departs from Vancouver and ends in Los Angeles.
Highlights include some of the most picturesque ports that are also gateways to California's wine country. In addition to stops in San Francisco and Santa Barbara, you'll also visit Astoria, Oregon as you make your way down to Los Angeles.
This cruise would appeal to wine lovers and those looking for a mid-range cruise fare. With rates starting at around $700 for an interior cabin, this works out to about $100 a night per person for a week-long vacation.
There are some disadvantages to a cruise like this. There is only one sailing per year, since it's a repositioning cruise, meaning there is less flexibility on dates. Also, you may have to incur the cost of at least a one-way flight or train ride as the cruise doesn't embark and disembark from the same home port.
Crystal Cruises 10-Night Coastal Collection
Cruisers looking for a more luxurious option should take note of the Crystal Cruises 10-Night Coastal Collection. This itinerary departs from San Francisco and includes stops in Monterey, Catalina Island, Cabo San Lucas, and San Diego.
This is an ideal cruise for travelers who want to leave and arrive back in the same port; this voyage both departs from and ends in San Francisco. This cruise is also one of the most comprehensive itineraries that really focuses on California, with the added bonus of two days in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
One obvious drawback to this cruise is the price. Being a luxury cruise line, balcony rates start at nearly $6,000.
More California Cruises
If you're looking for other options for cruising the California coastline, consider one of these options:
- Princess Four-Night West Coast Getaway: For inexpensive options, consider a quick four-night West Coast Getaway from Los Angeles that includes stops at Catalina Island and Ensenada, Mexico. Rates start at around $400 for an interior cabin.
- Disney Five-Night California Coast Cruise: If you're a Disney fan, consider combining a trip to Disneyland with a five-night Disney California Coast Cruise that departs from San Diego. Inside cabins start at about $2,600 for a May sailing.
- Princess 10-Night Classic California Coast: Princess' 10-Day Classic California Coast Cruise sails round trip from Vancouver with stops in Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and two days in San Francisco. Balcony cabins start at just under $1,700 per person.
- Celebrity 10-Night Pacific Coastal Cruise: Another great option for a west coast repositioning cruise is Celebrity's 10-night Pacific Coastal Cruise. This itinerary starts in San Diego and includes stops in Santa Barbara, Monterey, and San Francisco, as well as Oregon, Washington, and Victoria, B.C., before ending in Vancouver. Rates start at just under $1,000 for an interior cabin.
Tips for California Coastal Cruises
In most cases, the cruises along the California coast are only offered once or twice a year, as cruise lines prepare to start or end their Alaska cruise season. This means you need to be pretty patient, yet quick to book, if you have your heart set on a particular ship and itinerary. In most cases, the best times of the year to find these cruises are around April and May or September.
If you live on the West Coast or have the flexibility to travel on short notice, keep your eye on last-minute cruise fares as you may luck out and score an even better deal than some discounts available on cruise aggregator sites.