In 2017, Tampa Port for the first time was poised to handle vessels carrying around 1 million cruise passengers. The number was impressive, considering the height limitations of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge (180 feet / 55 m) and the strong competition from larger and better positioned around Florida cruise ports.
Port's strategy is not bringing in the megaships, but rather attracting smaller and recently refurbished ships with itineraries to easy-to-reach destinations.
In 2016, the cruise port handled a total of 813,800 passengers. During 2017's first quarter (winter cruising season) the port had scheduled 239,301 passengers, which was a 3% increase over 2016. The number of cruise liners homeported in Tampa was also increased - from 5 (in 2016) to 7 (in 2017).