Friday, January 19 , 2018, 8:15 pm | Fair 57º


Local News

Cruise Ship Docks and Visitors Swarm State Street

More than 2,600 passengers from the 952-foot Sapphire Princess of Princess Cruises embark at Sea Landing

When Heather Tulack and Barbara Karpp visited Santa Barbara in college, they walked State Street to shop at the antique and thrift stores. Although not all of their familiar storefronts remained, they enjoyed revisiting the popular downtown street with their families Friday afternoon.

“We walked from here to the CVS, and we absolutely loved Hampstead Village,” said Tulack, who was visiting from Louisiana. “Downtown was accessible and quaint. Next time we would like to visit for a weekend and see the Santa Barbara Zoo.”

The two were among the 2,600-plus passengers from the 952-foot Sapphire Princess of Princess Cruises who stepped ashore at Sea Landing on Friday morning.

The ship made a port call in Santa Barbara on a trip out of Los Angeles that also included stops in San Francisco, San Diego and Ensenada, Mexico.

Visitors like Jessica and Luke Heely packed downtown Santa Barbara.

“My favorite thing was the trolley — we took it to the Paseo Nuevo mall and ate at Sandbar,” said Jessica Heely of Pittsburgh, Pa., who carried an H&M bag. “It was really busy. On the way back we were looking at the hotels along the beach for our next visit. The scenery was beautiful, we loved the architecture and design.”

A barista at Hot Spots Espresso at 36 State St. said they had been slammed all day.

But business depends on the traveler demographic, according to Natalie Olivas of Wheel Fun Rentals.

“It depended on the crowd. If it’s a lot of elderly people, they will stay on the ship,” she said. “Our bike rental was pretty much the same, but the Trolley Tours were really popular. It definitely benefits lower State Street. We love the cruise ships.”

Ashleigh Davis is marketing director for the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization, which pitches white tents outside the Sea Landing and directs visitors.

“It’s great for downtown so we can direct people in the right direction. A lot of people assume downtown stops at the freeway,” Davis said. “It makes downtown more accessible. Ultimately, we’re always trying to promote downtown to regional visitors and hope it will result in return visits.”

While traffic increases at many retail stores, the cruise may not have a major monetary impact on local businesses, Davis said.

“We have heard positive feedback from downtown businesses that they have seen an influx of guests, but we heard that they haven’t seen huge increase or decrease in business,” she said. “A lot of the visitors head to wine country or destinations they want to go.”

These days, there aren’t many specialty shops unique to Santa Barbara, said Fred Sidon, a former cruise industry employee and president of the French Network of Santa Barbara. The city should promote a guided tour that emphasizes Santa Barbara’s historical significance, he said.

“If you go to Saks Fifth Avenue on State, why would you do that?” Sidon said. “I don’t see anything exceptional that I would take home to Princeton, New Jersey.” 

The overcrowded downtown streets can be a nuisance, he added.

“Who wants to go downtown so we can go elbow each other at a Macy’s counter?” Sidon said.

While Tulack and Jessica Heely plan to make another visit, Princess Cruises will, too. More visitors will dock on Easter Sunday.

“We can’t wait to come back,” Tulack said.

Noozhawk business writer Alex Kacik can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >