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David Loe: Cruise ships find waters around Santa Barbara inviting

Have you noticed? Santa Barbara has become a bona fide cruise port. Over the years when traveling north on the Highway 101, I’ve occasionally spotted a cruise ship anchored off of Santa Barbara. Lately, I’ve noticed that more often. That got me curious.

I discovered that Santa Barbara is now entertaining cruise ship visits 20 to 29 times a year. Not only that, these ships are from a who’s who of cruise lines. This year alone, Crystal, Princess, Holland America, Celebrity, and Oceania cruise lines will make multiple visits.

Of course, Santa Barbara doesn’t have a deepwater port, so it’s a tendering cruise stop. Ventura County’s Port of Hueneme is the only deepwater port between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Tendering means small craft ferry the passengers from the anchored ship to Santa Barbara’s harbor.

Usually, the ship’s lifeboats are used. It’s a bit cumbersome, and definitely not as convenient for the cruisers as stepping off the ship onto terra firma. But not so cumbersome that over 36,000 passengers opted to be transferred ashore last year in Santa Barbara.

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