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Catalina Express Is Lowering Fares

The island ferry service is passing on fuel savings to guests (and expanding its schedule, too).

People who have birthdays — so all of us — have an adorable tendency to keep track of where the freebies can be found when their big day rolls back around. Gratis pancakes? On-the-house ice cream? A complimentary head massage? Birthday-havers just gotta know where to go.

But SoCal-based birthday-havers who love the island life have long known about one of the biggest freebies around: The Free Ride on Your Birthday from Catalina Express, the busy island ferry company that whisks people from the mainland to pretty Avalon, 22 miles-ish across the ocean from Los Angeles.

There's some asterisks to the deal, but the upshot is this: If it's your birthday, you get a round trip ride to Catalina Island.

Even if it doesn't happen to be your birthday today, you may feel as though a bit of birthday magic has visited you, thanks to the ferry company's recent announcement: Yep, the free birthday rides are still on, so phew to that, but the Catalina Express is also lowering fares, across the board.

True story.

We know, we know, it can make one pause, and even furrow their brow, given that prices for most things tend to follow somewhat of an upward arrow.

That price drop will be about four percent — so picture a pinch below 2012 prices — and it comes with more good news for Avalon aficionados: There's a fresh expanded departure schedule, as of March 11, if you're looking to change up your trips out to Two Harbors or the buffalo-y island interior.

As to why fares are inching down a bit? Greg Bombard, president of Catalina Express, says "Though costs are going up, the price of fuel has been dropping and we are pleased to pass the savings along to our passengers." 

"Our new schedule is designed to allow our vessels to run more efficiently," he continues, "giving our passengers more convenient departure times and to allow on-time departures and arrivals with crossing times remaining at just over an hour each way."

It's a route the company knows well, having ferried over 25 million passengers over 35 years of making the watery crossing.

Will the fare drop inspire you to make an impromptu visit to the island, in order to take a glass-bottom boat tour or admire the flying fish? And, honest now, have you signed up for your birthday freebie yet? It's as quintessentially Californian as gratis goodies come.

For more on the Catalina Express, and things to do on that enchanted isle that's but a hop/skip/jump across the Pacific from here, float your boat this way.

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