Catalina Express
Catalina Express

Catalina Express

All aboard!

There are many ways to plan a great vacation on Catalina Island (click here to read my 5 Steps to Planning a Catalina Getaway). Although there are numerous ways to enjoy time on Santa Catalina Island, located just 22 off California’s mainland, there are just a few ways to get there.

Catalina Express terminal in Long Beach. Photo by Carrie Finley Bajak.
Catalina Express terminal in Long Beach. Photo by Carrie Finley Bajak.

Catalina Express is standing by to help transport guests to the island. For over 35 years the company has been transporting visitors, in fact Catalina Express has helped transport more than 25 million passengers since  its inception in 1981.

Catalina Express
Catalina Express alongside in Avalon Harbor.
Catalina Island
The Casino building on Catalina Island. Photo by Carrie Finley Bajak.


Catalina Express docks close to the Green Pleasure Pier. photo by Carrie Finley Bajak
Catalina Express docks close to the Green Pleasure Pier. photo by Carrie Finley Bajak

Ride Free on Your Birthday

One promotion that the cruise line offers as an incentive is the hugely popular  Ride Free on Your Birthday program. The numbers are staggering: more than 350,000 people have ridden free on their birthday since the program started in 2011.

I sailed from the Long Beach terminal, which was a great idea because this port offers the shortest distance to the island, which is really helpful if there are choppy seas.

Catalina Express passengers can travel to Catalina for free on their birthdays, effective now through December 31, 2016. The offer is good for travel from all of Catalina Express’ mainland or island ports saving adult passengers up to $76.50 round trip.

Travel must begin on the passenger’s actual birthday, subject to availability, and the return trip must be completed within 30 days. Interested passengers need to pre-register online at, make a reservation and then present their printed Free Pass at time of check-in, with valid ID. Visit for more details.

Greg Bombard, president of Catalina Express, notes, “Catalina Express is proud to have transported more than 25 million passengers since our inception more than 35 years ago. The continuation of our birthday promotion is just one way we wish to thank the many who have supported us over the years..”  Birthday Island has sprung up around the Free Ride offer with more offers than ever before.Catalina restaurants, attractions and hotels have joined in to celebrate the birthday with more than 40 deals, discounts and freebies. Passengers can download a Birthday Island PDF from the Catalina Express website while registering and are given updated information at their ticket window.

For a limited time only – Birthday Island offers includes:


Free flight for the birthday person with any paid flight. Must fly tandem, subject to availability, must call to make reservations this birthday offer. Boarding from the GREEN PIER.


Bicycle rentals are the perfect way to explore Avalon. On guest’s birthday, rent a bike for two hours and get the rest of the day until 5pm + a bottle of water; (310) 510-0986;


The Descanso Climbing Wall and get an additional climb for free on your birthday. Open weekends and holidays only.


Free Admission. Receive complimentary admission on your birthday.


One of Avalon’s best Mexican restaurants is offering a very special birthday deal. Any meal on the Birthday menu (consisting of 20 items) is free on guest’s birthday. This deal is good on guest’s birthday only, limit one free meal per birthday, must show I.D. Free shuttle serviceto/from the restaurant; (310) 510-1323


Free cup of 12oz gourmet coffee for the birthday person. Must wear Catalina Express birthday ribbon and provide an email address. May be required to show I.D.; (310) 510-CHIP (2447); www.CatalinaCoffeeandCookieCo.Com


On visitor’s birthday, come by Lloyd’s for a treat:

  • *Free Scoop of Ice Cream
  • *Buy one pound of Catalina Salt Water Taffy and get an extra 1/4 Pound FREE
  • *Buy any iced coffee drink or smoothie and get a second of equal or lesser value 1/2 off
  • Must show I.D. for proof of birthday; (310) 510-0345;


Enjoy a Mani-Pedi special for $50, receive a 50-min Swedish massage or a 50-min facial for only $69. (M-Th); $79 (Fri-Sun), or a 25-min massage or facial for only $45. Bring a loved one and get the same special. Expires 12/31/16.


If a guest stays at the hotel on his/her birthday, receive a free bottle of wine or sparkling cider. Must mention birthday in reservation & ID required at check in; (310) 510-7070;


After taking a free birthday ride on Catalina Express, enjoy a complimentary bottle of champagne or wine on your birthday, celebratory balloons, continental breakfast, milk & cookies each evening, 10% off at Avalon’s best retail stores and a free gift. Prices start at just $116 per person per night in conjunction with the Catalina Express’ “Free Ride on your Birthday” promotion. Proof of birth date required at check-in; 310-510-1452;


Stay for 1 nights on your birthday and receive 10%; stay 2 and receive 20% off. 10% discounts for breakfast, lunch & dinner, and with a meal purchase, a free dessert at EL Galleon, Mi Casita Mexican Restaurant, Original Jack’s Country Kitchen or Antonio’s Pizzeria & Cabaret on your birthday. 10% off on any tour from the Catalina Adventure Tours. Restrictions


Receive a complimentary box of Lloyd’s of Avalon chocolates plus your choice of champagne or sparkling cider. Must ask for the “BIRTHDAY SPECIAL” at the time of reservation and present ID with proof of birth date at check-in.


20% discount on any room, enjoy a $50 savings on a couples massage at our A Touch of Heaven Day Spa. Additional nights 10% discount, ID required, restrictions may apply.

Carrie Finley

Carrie is ready to explore, discover, and share the wonderful world of cruise travel. My goal is to report live from the ships sharing information about the overall experience under my Blogger-at-Large series. You will find information about cruise ships and places near the sea. Explore what’s buzzing at the cruise lines and gain insight into the world of cruising. Make sure to connect with Carrie via social media outlets including Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Tumblr.
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