How to Go to Amtrak Los Angeles Union Station From San Pedro Cruise Port

Note:  Thanks to a reader that informed me today, Amtrak is no longer providing the motor coach from Catalina Express Terminal to Union Station.  

Aboard Crystal Serenity, our Panama Canal cruise complete, we docked at dawn at the San Pedro Cruise Port. But I still had to get to Los Angeles Union Station for my train(s) back to Florida.

One of the two ports that comprise the Port of Los Angeles, San Pedro Cruise Port is also known as the The Port of Los Angeles World Cruise Center. Though a major cruise port, its location is kind of oddly located.

As I mentioned, Amtrak and San Pedro Cruise Port used to provide a dedicated motor coach to and from Amtrak Union Station in Los Angeles.

But the motor coach stop wasn’t where the cruise ships dock. The place where I caught the bus to Union Station was at the Catalina Express Terminal. That’s where I am standing as I faced Crystal Serenity in the photo above.

As you can see, Crystal Serenity looks incredibly close to the Catalina Express Terminal. And it would be if you could debark the ship on the side that you see in the photo. But you do not; there’s water and a chain link fence in-between. You exit the ship on the other side.

Los Angeles World Cruise Center San Pedro
Here’s my map to show you how you have to walk to get between San Pedro Cruise Port (World Cruise Center) and Catalina Express Terminal.

If you didn’t have luggage, it’s a fairly a short walk (about ¼ mile) to the Catalina Express Terminal to catch the motor coach.

Bad news…not good to do with luggage and it’s further than you’d guess.

How To Get to Catalina Express Terminal 

Los Angeles World Cruise Center San Pedro

As you exit your ship after you’ve claimed your luggage, exit the doors straight in front of you. Carefully cross the car and bus lanes to an island with a sign for the Cruise Ship Shuttle. It’s a small sign so hopefully this photo of it will help.

Depending on the day and time, you may have to wait 20-30 minutes for the shuttle. I suggest that you approach a port security person and ask her/him to contact the shuttle driver to let the driver know that there’s someone waiting to go to Catalina Express Terminal.

Think you would try to walk there? You have to walk out and around, (look again at the map above), cut through the parking lot where your ship is docked, find the way out the gate and into and through the parking lot for Catalina Express parking. The streets are bumpy, there are curbs and it’s easy to get confused with the security gates. Plus, you are cutting through two parking lots. I’d suggest that you wait for the shuttle.

Once on the shuttle, it’s only a 4-5 minute ride to Catalina Terminal. Amtrak’s motor coach would pick you up at the Catalina Express Terminal, right in front of the entrance gate, next to the round cement safety blocks. There’s a small sign, too.

At this time, your only way to Los Angeles Union Station from either the San Pedro cruise port or the Catalina Express Terminal is Uber or Lyft or a taxi.

Los Angeles World Cruise Center San Pedro
Entrance to Catalina Express Terminal.

Read more:  Aboard Amtrak Southwest Chief from Los Angeles to Chicago

If you have to wait, you can go into the Catalina Express Terminal where you’ll find a snack and coffee shop plus a small bar/lounge.

Los Angeles World Cruise Center San Pedro

On time, the Amtrak motor coach pulled in to the Catalina Express Terminal. I was the only passenger on the bus. There is one additional stop along the way where you might add another passenger or two en route to Los Angeles Union Station.

Facing the side entrance to Los Angeles Union Station after I exited the Amtrak bus from Catalina Express Terminal.

In the reverse, when you leave Los Angeles Union Station, you’ll exit through the side doors that lead to the garden area. The bus depot is just beyond the patio area. Look for the bus that’s marked Catalina Express Terminal.

Los Angeles Union Station Metropolian Lounge

My train to Chicago was set to depart Los Angeles at 6:40pm. I had already planned on at least a 7 hour wait at the station. Because I had reserved a sleeper, I could wait in the Metropolitan Lounge for the duration. 

At 6:15pm the Red Cap came to collect those of us who had requested service to board. Settled into my bedroom, the Southwest Chief left Union Station on time and ready for its two-night journey.



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  1. Hi Jeri,

    Oh no! I’ll have to amend the article and find out more info. Thank you very much for bringing this to my attention and for taking the time to read the article.

  2. Hi Sheri,
    Thank you for reading my article and taking the time to write your question. And that’s a really good question. Because Los Angeles is SO spread out, if it were me, I’d probably head to LAX or have a meet up at Union Station in LA. My first suggestion would be to call Amtrak (1-800-USA-RAIL) and ask for information from San Pedro or Long Beach cruise terminals to downtown Union Station. Amtrak runs their courtesy bus to Union Station. Your friend from LAX could then meet you downtown. Even though San Pedro and Long Beach cruise terminals are in the same region, they are really 7 miles apart. That’s just my suggestion.

    Thank you again for reading my article. Have a terrific cruise and a fun vacation.

  3. Hi,
    I am arriving in San Pedro Feb 1 via Princess Cruise ship. I need to meet a friend at LAX and then travel to Ventura. Great information on catching the courtesy shuttle from the ship to Catalina Express terminal. Any suggestions on how to manage the Meetup with my friend? Should I try to go to LAX or is there a better train station to meet at to travel together to Ventura? Thanks for your help!

  4. Hi Cynthia,
    This is a little complicated but definitely do-able, as I described. From the San website: “Amtrak now provides daily Thruway service to Cruise Line Port Area in San Pedro. Direct Thruways operate from Los Angeles Union Station to Catalina Terminal in San Pedro (where shuttles take you to the nearby San Pedro Cruise Ship Terminal”. This is what I mentioned but I was relieved to read it again on their official site. It’s a beautiful train ride from San Diego to Los Angeles Union Station. But if this is the route you choose, you MUST notify Amtrak that you want to reserve space on their Thruways bus to Los Angeles San Pedro pier. You will probably have to change buses at Catalina Express. The ride from Los Angeles Union Station to San Pedro is about an hour or so. If it was possible, I would definitely suggest doing this transfer on Oct. 26 and stay overnight in San Pedro or even onboard the Queen Mary cruise ship hotel! It will ease the stress and should give you a smoother morning on embarkation day. I hope this is helpful. The only other mode to get there with the least amount of cost might be to rent a car. If you do, again I’d suggest arriving the day before departure. Have a wonderful cruise and thank you again for taking the time to write.

  5. Departing San Diego (US Grant Hotel) Sunday morning 27Oct19. Destination San Pedro Cruise Terminal (boarding 11:00am Norwegian Cruise Line).

    Amtrak? Union Station? Shuttle? Taxi? Rental Car drop off at the terminal?

  6. Hi Cheryl,
    I’m not sure from where you want to catch a shuttle bus. Amtrak has a dedicated motor coach from the port of Long Beach and San Pedro to Los Angeles Union Station. Call Amtrak and ask the reservation person how to connect from your ship at debarkation to Union Station. I’ve done it a few times and it’s always been fine. It’s about an hour and five minutes from the port of Long Beach to Union Station. I hope this helps.

  7. Please help, booked an Amtrak from Union Station to San Diego. There was no where on any page a place to reserve a shuttle bus. Can you help me out? I looked into Prime Time shuttle and the complaints at the BBB are outrageous! Thanks in advance.Cheryl McMahon

  8. Hi Sharon, sorry…but I don’t know. Debarkation from cruise ships can’t be depended upon for a fixed time…things can happen and delay leaving the ship. This in turn can delay embarkation, which is what you are asking. Schedules are determined partly by ridership…so I really don’t know the answer to your dilemma. Have a wonderful cruise!

  9. No trains leaving Fresno early enough to get us to ship on time so would have to spend night in hotel…..why don’t they have an early train and early bus to San Pedro?

  10. Hi Loomis,

    Trying to catch the 10:10am train is really cutting it too close. If you do self-assist walk-off from your cruise and have a taxi ready to pick you up, it’s still a good 45 minutes to the station in downtown LA. I would really suggest staying an overnight in LA, near the station and then having an easy morning to the train. Amtrak may have a dedicated shuttle bus from the Port of Long Beach to Union Station. I know they do for Port of Los Angeles at San Pedro.

    If you ship is delayed, traffic is jammed or customs is slow, you could miss your train. I’d recommend against it…but I tend to err on the side of caution. Good luck and have a great cruise.


  11. We have planned a Holland America Cruise that will end in LA on December 21, 2018. We live in Seattle and wish to take the Coast Starlight back home. Assuming the ship docks at 7am with debarking by 8am?, then, I assume, US Customs, what is the safest means to the LA train station before 10:10am when the Coast Starlight is scheduled to leave? Commercial shuttle co., taxi, etc.? Or is this two hour window unrealistic?

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