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

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Crystal Serenity, Panama Canal cruise complete, docked at dawn at the San Pedro Cruise Port. 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 odd.

Amtrak and San Pedro Cruise Port provide a dedicated motor coach to and from Amtrak Union Station in Los Angeles. But the motor coach stop isn’t where the cruise ships dock. The place to catch the bus to Union Station is 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.

Good news…the port and Amtrak run a shuttle between San Pedro World Cruise Center and the Catalina Express Terminal.  Confused? So was I.

How To Get to Catalina Express Terminal to Board the Amtrak Bus

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.

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Once on the shuttle, it’s only a 4-5 minute ride to Catalina Terminal.  Amtrak’s motor coach will 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.

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.

MOST IMPORTANT!

You MUST reserve your transfer to or from Los Angeles Union Station to Port of San Pedro when you book your Amtrak train.  It’s not automatically included nor will the bus company know that they are supposed to pick you up at either end of the trip.

 

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4 Comments

  1. Sherry Laskin
    Author
    October 14, 2018 / 6:55 pm

    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!
    Sherry

  2. Sharon
    August 28, 2018 / 8:22 pm

    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?

  3. Sherry Kennedy
    Author
    April 16, 2018 / 6:05 pm

    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.

    Sherry

  4. Loomis
    April 13, 2018 / 4:57 pm

    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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