Port Tampa Bay recently welcomed its 1-millionth cruise passenger for the first time ever per single year.
The cruise port hit the milestone September 17, when the count for this fiscal year (ending September 30) hit 1,000,524. Over the weekend it rose further when 3 more vessels called at the port. Port Tampa projected a year-end total of over 1.04 million passengers, that would be a 9% increase over 2017.
Port Tampa is limited in the range of vessels that can call here because the largest ones, that can carry up to 6,000 passengers, won’t fit under Sunshine Skyway bridge. But the port has grown its cruise business nearly 20% since 2016 through bringing in refurbished smaller vessels in the 3,000-passenger range, and by taking advantage of state’s growing population and serving destinations that are easy to reach.
Over the past year:
- The cruise port set a single-weekend record over March 31-April 1 Easter weekend, when a total of 29,167 passengers came ashore or sailed from the port.
- Royal Caribbean put a bigger ship, its 880ft-long Majesty of the Seas, in rotation, to accommodate customer demand for cruises between Tampa and Cuba.
- Carnival Cruise Line added 20 voyages to Cuba, finished the makeover of Carnival Paradise and doubled line’s capacity locally via adding Carnival Miracle’s year-long program with 7-day itineraries from Port Tampa Bay.
Port's administrators expect cruise passenger numbers to continue to grow due to the development of the US$3 billion Water Street Tampa project. It includes the transformation of chronically under-performing Channelside Bay Plaza into Sparkman Wharf with more options for shopping, touring and dining out.