Catalina Island News

Possible Cruise Ship Facility in Avalon

City of Avalon

The Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce has begun the process to determine the feasibility of building a cruise ship passenger disembarkation/embarkation facility in the vicinity of Cabrillo Mole.  At the City Council meeting on July 20th, the Chamber asked the Avalon City Council to participate in the study and to contribute up to $10,000 of the study's cost.  The remainder of funding for the study is expected to come from the cruise industry and local businesses. The City Council voted unanimously 5-0 in favor of approving the Chamber's Request.

At the City Council meeting, Wayne Griffin, CEO of the Chamber relayed that recent cruise ship decisions have made it desirable to build an embarkation/disembarkation facility in order to eliminate the need to tender cruise ship passengers.  "In recent years, most major cruise lines have adopted policies that eliminate from consideration those cruise ship ports of call in which passengers must be tendered between the ship and shore, stated Mr. Griffin.  "Surveys conducted in Caribbean ports show that cruise ship passengers who are able to walk on and off the ship at a cruise ship destination spend 20% more time ashore and spend up to 30% more money in the port.  It would be advantageous to our local economy to receive the full benefits of a cruise ship in Avalon."

The Chamber has been in discussions with a major cruise line for some time about conducting this feasibility study for a disembarkation/embarkation facility in Avalon.  If the study confirms that building such a facility is indeed feasible, this cruise line has agreed to guarantee funding for the estimated $20 million cost of construction.

The feasibility study is the first step in a very long process. "The study will not only tell us if building a passenger disembarkation/embarkation facility is feasible, but will give us some idea of what such a facility might look like," said David Creigh, chair of the Chamber's Cruise Ship Committee and volunteer Director of Cruise Development for the City of Avalon.  "This information will enable the community to make fact-based decisions about moving forward with the project," added Creigh.

Several local business owners joined the Chamber in asking the City Council to participate in the feasibility study.  Local retailer and hotelier, Jerry Dunn and Doug Bombard, Chairman of Catalina Express spoke in favor of the request and a letter from long standing local businessman Roy Rose in favor of the facility was read into the minutes. No one spoke in opposition.  Once the City approved the financial contribution to the feasibility study, the City Council appointed Council Members Morrow and Ponce to serve on a Chamber Task Force to oversee the study.

Should a new facility be built it would be done as a part of the Mole renovation that the City has had scheduled for some time and one of the goals is to greatly improve the experience of all arriving and departing visitors, whether traveling on cruise ships or cross-channel carriers.