Tampa Bay Cruise Port is on Florida's western coast. The city of Tampa is approx 85 mi (140 km) from Orlando City (Port Canaveral) to the west, via Highway I-4E (~1,5 hours drive distance). Regency Cruises and HAL-Holland America Line were the first companies to start homeporting/roundtrip voyages from Tampa (in the 1980s). CCL-Carnival Cruise Line started homeporting operations in 1994 with MS Tropicale (1982-built/2021-scrapped).
Tampa cruise port
The Port is approx 24 km (15 mi) from Tampa Airport (~20 min drive distance) and very close yo downtown. The Port's 3 cruise terminals (all located on Harbour Island) are near large-capacity parking garages. The nearest highway is Lee Roy Selmon Expressway (running along the port's northern border).
Popular tourist attractions in close proximity to the cruise port include Channelside Bay Plaza (shops, bars, restaurants, hotels), Florida Aquarium (1995-opened, floor area 250,000 ft2/23000 m2), Ybor City (1880s-founded historic neighborhood/aka Cigar City), Busch Gardens Tampa (1959-opened, African-themed amusement park owned by SeaWorld Entertainment Inc).
According to local business studies, a 3000-passenger cruiser generates ~USD 334,000 in onshore spending (crew and tourists) per visit in the homeport city. Recent leisure project developments resulted in new dining, shopping, accommodation and entertainment options.
Tampa is one of the USA's most popular homeports for liners deployed in the Western Caribbean. The largest companies homeporting in Tampa are CCL-Carnival, RCI-Royal Caribbean, HAL-Holland America, NCL-Norwegian.
Port's cruising season runs from November thru April. In 2014 were handled a total of 888,343 cruise passengers via 198 ship calls.
In 2017, Port Tampa for the first time handled ~1 million cruisers. The number was impressive, considering Sunshine Skyway Bridge's height limitations (180 ft / 55 m) and the strong competition from larger and better positioned around Florida ports.
Besides the Skyway Bridge's height limitation, the cruise port also has a navigation issue as it is prone to fog. Larger ships also experience difficulties to maneuver due to Port's shallow waters and narrow channels.
Carnival ships here have passenger capacity between 1000 and 2600, and generally operate on Western Caribbean roundtrip itineraries. Port's strategy is not homeporting megaships, but rather attracting smaller and recently refurbished vessels with itineraries to easy-to-reach destinations.
In 2017-Q1 (winter season) the port handled 239,301 passengers (3% increase over 2016-Q1). The number of homeported cruise liners increased to 7 (from 5 in 2016). One of the new boats based here for turnarounds/roundtrips was RCI's Empress of the Seas - which itineraries also visited Havana Cuba (starting April 2017). In 2017, the cruise port handled a total of 961,000 passengers. Also in 2017 was signed with RCI a 5-year agreement (optional 2 more years). It guaranteed min passenger numbers, while RCI spent ~USD 2 million in Terminal 6 upgrades.
In 2017, Holland America's MS Oosterdam replaced in Tampa the smaller MS Ryndam (now Aegean Goddess). Another newly refurbished and upgraded boat returning for homeporting was Carnival Pride (starting January 2017), after nearly 3 years (in 2016 was homeported in Baltimore).
In 2017, Carnival announced adding cruises from Tampa to Cuba to its 2017-2018 Caribbean program scheduled for Carnival Paradise (starting June 2017).
In 2018, Carnival Miracle started from Tampa year-round 7-day roundtrips. On September 22-23, 2018, Port Tampa Bay celebrated its 1 millionth cruise passenger. Another record was the Easter weekend (Mar 31 - Apr 1) when the cruise port handled 29,167 passengers on multiple ship calls.
Port Tampa cruise ship schedule includes roundtrips the whole year-round. The most common are the 7-day Western Caribbean itineraries visiting Key West Florida, Roatan Island Honduras, Cozumel Mexico, Costa Maya Mexico, Grand Cayman Island.
Port Tampa Bay
Port Tampa Bay is ranked Florida state's largest port. The seaport is located close to downtown Tampa (Channel District) and is accessed directly from Tampa Bay. The port is approx 46 km (30 mi) from Gulf of Mexico. Port Tampa Bay has capacity to serve world's largest container carriers, tankers and cruise liners.
In 2013, the port Tampa was ranked USA's 16th largest (by domestic trade tonnage), 32nd largest (by foreign cargo tonnage) and 22nd (total shipping tonnage). Port's impact on Florida's economy is over USD 15 billion, with supported over 80,000 local jobs. Most handled vessels are bulk carriers and tankers, also Ro-Ro ships (car carries) and boxships (container carriers). The port also has drydocks for ship repairs. Most of the traffic is with Asian ports.
Ports America Holdings Inc (US Terminal Operator and Stevedore) operates a container terminal with two berths. The terminal is served by 3x gantry cranes and 1x Mobile Harbor Crane (100-ton). In 2014, the port purchased two new China-made gantry cranes (from ZPMC / Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries) for USD 21,5 million.
For FY2017 (fiscal year), Port Tampa Bay reported a record operating revenue of USD 55,4 million. Port's previous records were USD 51,3 million (2015) and USD 49,2 million (2016). The increase was mainly due to additional cruise activities, new and expanded facilities leases, as well as increase of commodities import (petroleum, cement, steel).
Since January 2019, world's 6th largest containership company COSCO Shipping (China) added Port Tampa Bay to company's GME Transpacific service (Gulf of Mexico Express). COSCO is also member of Ocean Alliance (together with CMA-CGM, OOCL, Evergreen Marine). The new GME service connects cargo ports Shanghai-Ningbo-Xiamen-Yantian-Houston-Mobile-Tampa, with Shanghai-Tampa transit times 31 days (import) and 27 days (export).
Since June 2019, Port Tampa Bay is part of PEX3 (Pacific Express 3) service of CMA-CGM. The new (roundtrip Singapore) container service links ports Singapore-Vietnam (Vung Tau)-China (Hong Kong-Shekou-Ningbo-Shanghai)-Korea (Busan)-Panama Canal-USA (Houston TX- Mobile AL-NOLA New Orleans-Tampa-Miami)-Singapore. On June 13, 2019, the port handled its ever-largest boxship - the 2010-built "CMA CGM Dalila" (IMO 9450624). The vessel (max TEU capacity 9500 containers) docked at The Ports America Terminal arriving from Vietnam.
Due to the Coronavirus crisis, Port Tampa's homeporting cruise shipping operations were paused for 18+ months (March 14, 2020, thru October 16, 2021).
Tampa cruise terminal
Port Tampa has 3 cruise terminals. Cruise port's address is "1101 Channelside Drive, Tampa, FL 33602". Port Tampa's parking facilities (Channelside Parking Garage, multi-storey) are located across the street from cruise terminals 2 and 3. Self-serve parking costs USD 15 per car per day (for oversize vehicles USD 30 per day). Valet parking costs USD 20 more (35 and 50, respectively). In most cases, passenger check-in process starts at 10 am.
In May 2019 starts an USD 10 million project with planned renovations of all the 3 cruise ship terminals. Works (by Gilbane Building Company) include interior improvements and adding of escalators in Cruise Terminals 2 and 6. Cruise Terminal 2 will also be refurbished and upgraded to be able to handle transit itineraries, and not only roundtrips without passengers embarking from non-US ports.
Project's Phase 1 (May-October 2019) and Phase 2 (May-October 2020) are both during off-season. Phase 2 involves works at Cruise Terminal 3, including adding a second escalator and renovations to terminal's processing area in order to meet the requirements of the US Customs and Border Protection agency.
Tampa cruise port directions
From Orlando FL take highway Interstate-4 West to Exit 1, continue south on 21st Street, on Adamo Drive turn right, then left onto Channelside Drive.
From Clearwater FL take Highway 60 East (across Tampa Bay), follow the signs to Interstate-275 North that merges with Interstate-4 East. Follow Interstate-4 East to Exit 1.
From Tampa International Airport take FL-60 E (3 miles) northeast on George J Bean Inbound Parkway, continue for 2,3 miles, take the right ramp to FL-60 E (0,5 miles), at the fork keep right and follow the signs for Tampa to merge onto FL-60 E. Take Interstate-275 North to McKay Ave (7 miles), turn right onto McKay Ave. United Cab and Yellow Cab taxi service is available outside airport's Baggage Claim Level. To the cruise terminal, taxis charge flat rate fee USD 28.
Cruise Terminal 2
In the late-1990s, Cruise Terminal 2 creation was incorporated in the Garrison Seaport Center scheme. The terminal offers facilities like customs, cab rank, restrooms, a snack shop and a luggage carts. It has only one wharf.
Terminal 2 serves exclusively Carnival and Royal Caribbean ships.
Cruise Terminal 3
Tampa Cruise Port Terminal 3 was built in 2002. The terminal offers facilities like fast security and luggage carts. The embarkation and disembarkation of passengers is streamlined. It has only one wharf.
Terminal 3 serves ships of NCL Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean and Holland America Line.
Cruise Terminal 6
Tampa Cruise Port Terminal 6 is located half a mile away from Terminal 3, direction North. In 2011 it was renovated. It has only one wharf.
There is a parking area at the site. Terminal 6 serves Holland America Line. Parking: is USD 14 daily (Port Authority subject to change).
Tampa tours, shore excursions, hotels
City Tours and Shore Excursions
- Get a taste of Florida wildlife on this 2.5-hour sightseeing tour from Tampa. You'll visit Croc Encounters and learn about this sanctuary's conservation efforts and make a stop in Clearwater Beach to see the aquarium where the famous dolphins, Hope and Winter live. For groups of 6 or more please contact The Entourage Tours if you wish to be picked up from your location?
The Entourage Tours Wildlife PM Tours - Tampa | Book Now
- Florida Aquarium: discover the great variety of sea life. You will see Wetlands, Ocean Commotion, Bays and Beaches, Dragons Down Under and Explore A Shore exhibitions. It is next to Tampa Cruise Port Terminal 3.
- SS American Victory: this cargo ship served during the World War II, the Vietnam War and the Korean War. Currently it is a museum docked near the Florida Aquarium. Discover galley, cargo equipment, food hall, lifeboats and the bridge.
- Channelside Bay Plaza: center with many eateries, bars, retail outlets and entertainment places.
- Tampa’s Riverwalk: across the Garrison channel you will be able to see SS American Victory, Florida Aquarium, Channelside Bay Plaza, Tampa Cruise Port Terminal 2, Teco Line Streetcar, Tampa Bay History Center, Florida Museum Of Photographic Arts, MacDill Park, Tampa Museum of Art and Kiley Gardens.
- Ybor City: styled in Cuban way with narrow alleys, brick buildings and iron railings. It has a unique charm with its flamenco dancers and cigars made by hand.
- Henry B Plant Museum: discover the interesting life of the famous railroad tycoon.
- Busch Gardens Theme Park: located 8 miles away from Tampa Cruise Port, direction North.
Port Tampa cruise ship schedule shows timetable calendars of all arrival and departure dates by month. The port's schedule lists all ships (in links) with cruises going to or leaving from Tampa, Florida. To see the full itineraries (ports of call dates and arrival / departure times) and their lowest rates – just follow the corresponding ship-link.
|1 September, 2022|
|5 September, 2022|
|10 September, 2022|
|15 September, 2022|
|19 September, 2022|
|24 September, 2022|
|29 September, 2022|
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