Visit our travel agent friends at MEI Travel

Guide to cruises from Tampa

14 May 2022
Nicole Feist

Tampa offers a convenient embarkation port for cruises to the Western Caribbean, including many with Royal Caribbean.

When you think about cruising out of Florida, Miami and Fort Lauderdale are probably the first port’s that come to mind. If you are looking for something a little quieter, on Florida’s west coast sailing into the Gulf of Mexico, you’ll find Tampa. 

Port Tampa Bay is the home port for five ships from four cruise lines, offering itineraries to the Eastern, Western and Southern Caribbean and even Transatlantic cruises. 

How to get to the Tampa Cruise Port

Port Tampa Bay is located just 8 miles from the Tampa International Airport, and less than a mile from downtown Tampa, making it one of the easiest cruise ports to get to. 

The address of Port Tampa Bay is 1101 Channelside Dr, Tampa, FL 33602.

Royal Caribbean typically uses Terminal 2, but will also use Terminal 3 when needed. Passengers should follow the digital signage at the port to find the correct terminal for their ship. 

Flying to Tampa Cruise Port

Tampa International Airport

Tampa airport

Flying into the Tampa International Airport is the easiest for those needing to fly in prior to their cruise. With over 90 nonstop destinations and 260 daily departures, travelers have plenty of options to choose from to get to and from their cruise.

With the port located so close to the airport, it is recommended to use a taxi or rideshare app Port Tampa Bay, which will usually cost between $18 - $25. The drive should only take 15 - 20 minutes.

One of our biggest tips at Royal Caribbean Blog is to fly into your departure port the night before your cruise, to ensure that you don’t encounter delays that could make you miss your embarkation time. There are plenty of hotels to choose from located near both the Tampa airport and Port Tampa Bay, making getting to the port on embarkation day a breeze. 

What Time Should I Schedule My Flight from Tampa?

Tampa airport

When booking your travel home after your cruise, it is important to not book too early of a flight, as you do not want to risk missing the flight home. 

Even though TPA is located close to the port, we recommend booking a flight home no earlier than 11:30am. While you may be able to walk off the ship by 8:00 - 9:00AM on disembarkation day, it isn’t guaranteed, and you don’t want to end up missing a morning flight.

Royal Caribbean Shuttle Service

How to get from Orlando to Port Canaveral | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean offers shuttle service from the airport to the port (and vice versa), for an extra fee. There are also outside vendors who offer shuttle service such as Infinity Transportation.

Since the airport is located so close to the port, I recommend utilizing a rideshare or taxi service over a shuttle. Not only will prices typically be lower, you also won’t have to wait on a shuttle to fill up before being able to leave.

Parking at Port Tampa Bay

Port Tampa Bay has very convenient parking options for the cruise terminals. Since it is located so close to downtown Tampa, there are plenty of parking garages to choose from. 

The closest option is the Port Tampa Bay parking garage, located just across the street from the three terminals. Beginning on October 23, 2022 the price for self parking will increase from $15 to $15.75 per day, and oversized parking (RV's, etc) will increase from $30 to $31.50 per day. 

Port Tampa Bay also offers valet parking for $15.75 per day (effective October 23, 2022, previously $15), plus a one time fee of $20. This is a great option for those who have trouble walking, or don’t want to deal with the hassle of parking their car. To utilize this option, you simply pull up to the curbside of the terminal entrance, and the valets will take care of the rest. 

Where to stay the night before your cruise from Tampa

Tampa downtown

As we mentioned, it is highly recommended to fly in the day before your cruise departs. When doing that, booking a hotel is an important part of the planning process when cruising from Tampa. 

If your flight arrives earlier in the day, you may want to stay closer to the cruise port and downtown Tampa. This will give you an opportunity to explore the city and see the sights before leaving for your cruise. The Tampa Bay Riverwalk and Channelside areas offer plenty of dining, shopping and sights. 

If your flight is arriving later in the evening, you may want to stay closer to the airport and head to the cruise terminal in the morning. The Westshore area is located just outside the airport, and has plenty of hotels to choose from. 

Recommended hotels include:

Some hotels will offer a shuttle service to the terminal on embarkation day, but we still recommend using a rideshare service, as you will have flexibility on the timing. 

Which Royal Caribbean ships sail from Port Tampa Bay?

One of the best parts of cruising out of Tampa, is getting to sail under the iconic Sunshine Skyway Bridge to enter the Gulf of Mexico.

However, this bridge can only accommodate ships that measure 180 feet from the top of the waterline. For this reason, Royal Caribbean uses Port Tampa Bay for its Vision and Radiance class of ships. 

Enchantment of the Seas will call Tampa home beginning in November 2023, offering 7-night Caribbean cruises.

Radiance of the Seas will sail out of Tampa starting in November 2023, offering 4 and 5-night Bahamas and Caribbean cruises, visiting Cozumel, Puerto Costa Maya, Perfect Day at CocoCay and Nassau. 

Where to Watch a Sailaway

If you find yourself in Tampa before or after your cruise, and want to catch a ship sailing through Tampa Bay, there are plenty of areas to watch from. 

The closest viewing spot you’ll find is at the cruise terminal. Port Tampa Bay allows you to walk right up near the ships, for an unforgettable view. 

If the ship is leaving from Terminal 2, you can walk over to the Sparkman Wharf to take in the view, while grabbing a drink from the beer garden or a bite to eat from one of the many food stands.

Another great option is David Islands Beach, less than 15 minutes away from the port. Here you can sit back and relax with your toes in the sand, or even get in the water as you watch the ships sail away from Port Tampa Bay. 

Arguably, one of the best sites to see is the ship sailing under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. This bridge is located about a 30-45 minute drive south of Tampa, and it takes the ships about 2 hours after departure to reach the bridge.

While you can’t stop on the bridge to view the ships, you can go to either the north or south fishing piers to watch them sail under the bridge.

Get our newsletter

Stay up-to-date with cruise news & advice

    We never share your information with third parties and will protect it in accordance with our Privacy Policy