California Boats


Harbor Breeze Cruises, Long Beach

You Never Know What You'll See On a Harbor Cruise–From Ships to Celebrities

You can take a Harbor Tour, see 4th of July Fireworks, take a Whale Watching Tour or a Charter

Harbor Breeze Cruises see:
100 Aquarium Way, Dock 2,
Rainbow Harbor
Long Beach, CA
(562) 432-4900

By C. MacDonald

ABOARD THE HARBOR BREEZE'S TOUR BOAT, KARIN LYNN--You never know what you're going to see on a tour around Long Beach Harbor. "Every trip is different," said Captain Nic Robbins, who pilots six tours a day from Rainbow Harbor's Dock 2, next to the Aquarium of the Pacific. "You see a lot of smiling faces and waving folks on fishing boats and slumbering sea lions atop buoys but we might also see porpoises and brown pelicans, a CSI TV show being taped or a huge oil tanker dropping an anchor."

"It's fun just spotting all the various vessels--from catamarans, riverboats, cargo ships, cruise ships, paddleboats, fishing boats, tugboats, sailing ships and motorboats," said the friendly man, who explains just what his passengers are seeing on the 45-minute tour. You learn a lot about the sights.

The tour's star is the spectacular Queen Mary, once the world's largest luxury liner. From the time of her maiden voyage in 1936, the over 1,000-foot long ship attracted the famous, including Winston Churchill, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, David Niven, Fred Astaire and Bob Hope. During World War II it ferried soldiers--over 15,000, including my friend Art Leavitt, on a single trip across the Atlantic Ocean. Her final voyage to Long Beach was in 1967. She still serves as a floating hotel and one of the world's major tourist attractions. Next to the queen, you'll see the Russian Cold War submarine, Scorpion.

Nearly everything you view on the tour is huge and memorable, including the world's largest Break Wall, running 9 1/2 miles from Alamitos Bay to San Pedro. The Long Beach and Los Angeles Port's Container Terminals are amazing and the entry point for more than 40% of our country's imports. You'll witness 900-foot-long cargo ships being loaded and unloaded by gigantic cranes. Some of the ships that come from all over the world, can carry over 8,000 metal containers.

Fascinating to tourists and locals alike are the four Oil Islands that look more like resorts, with wells and derricks cleverly hidden by facades, palm trees, vegetation and even a waterfall, that changes colors. Disney designers created amazing illusions in the 1960s for the beautification of the harbor. Powerful tugboats are ever present--pushing barges back and forth from the islands and the mainland.

You'll see beautiful views of Downtown Long Beach and it's incredible architecture and buildings, like the ageless Hotel Riviera, which now features condos with fabulous views. "Being out on the water really gives you a different perspective of how Long Beach looks," said Dan Heidrick, who has driven over the city's streets for years. "It gives the buildings a whole new dimension, while you feel the invigorating breeze, smell the fresh air and feel the sunshine. Nothing beats a harbor tour!"

Steven Quang, first mate on the cruise, recommends visitors bring a camera and a jacket. "It can sometimes get 10-degrees colder when you're on the water, which is a refreshing thing on warm summer days."

Note: We were first introduced to Harbor Breeze Cruises when they offered tours to see the battleship USS Iowa arriving in Southern California.

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