This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2018 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.
2018 will prove to be a banner year for cruises from Port Tampa Bay in the US. Located on Florida’s west coast, the port city is on pace to set a record for passenger throughput thanks to numerous options offered by Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, Holland America Line and Norwegian Cruise Line.
Carnival operates two cruise ships year-round from Tampa: Carnival Miracle and Carnival Paradise. Guests can board Carnival Miracle and enjoy seven-day itineraries that include stops in Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands; Mahogany Bay on the island of Roatan in Honduras; Belize; and Cozumel, Mexico.
Meanwhile, Carnival Paradise offers four- and five-day itineraries to Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Mahogany Bay, Key West in Florida and Havana, Cuba.
“There is a long history of Cuban heritage and connection with Tampa and it’s a natural fit,” said Gus Antorcha, chief operating officer at Carnival Cruise Line.
Royal Caribbean International homeports two ships in Tampa during the winter season. Both Brilliance of the Seas and Rhapsody of the Seas sail to various Caribbean destinations, with the former sailing four- and five-night itineraries and the latter offering seven-night voyages.
Holland America Line provides an ideal alternative for travellers who want to experience a more extensive itinerary that widely explores the southern and western Caribbean. The company, which has been serving the premium market from Tampa for more than 35 years, offers several itineraries that last between seven and 21 days.
And for music lovers, Norwegian Cruise Line is bringing the Sixthman music festivals back to Tampa for the winter 2018-2019 season. Guests will be able to enjoy country music, rock, the blues and more when they take to the high seas onboard Norwegian Pearl from Tampa.
Tampa is centrally located on Florida’s west coast, which is home to several beaches that are consistently rated top in the US – including Caladesi Island, Honeymoon Island and Clearwater Beach. The cruise terminal is within a 30-minute drive of these beaches, making them an ideal spot for a relaxing and stress-free pre- or post-cruise excursion. Those seeking family fun can head to one of Florida’s famous theme parks, such as Busch Gardens or Walt Disney World Resort, which are less than 10 miles and 75 miles from Tampa respectively. In fact, six of the world’s largest theme parks are in central Florida and are within a one-hour drive from Tampa.
Together, these beaches and tourist attractions, the famous Latin quarter Ybor City and Tampa’s close proximity to Cuba and the Western Caribbean help Port Tampa Bay to attract more than one million cruise passengers every year. The port is also less than 20 minutes’ drive from the award-winning Tampa International Airport and offers abundant parking facilities. This makes it easy and hassle-free for guests to travel to and from the port, ensuring they enjoy an exceptional experience whenever they start or end their cruise at Port Tampa Bay.
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