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Royal Caribbean is first cruise line to restart cruises from Tampa

16 Oct 2021

The cruise industry restart has reached the Port of Tampa.

Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas arrived in Tampa on Saturday to begin offering cruises from West Florida, which is the first time a cruise ship has sailed from the Port of Tampa since 2020.

Serenade of the Seas will depart Terminal 6 on Saturday to begin a new cruise season there, having just wrapped up an abbreviated cruise season in Alaska.

Serenade will offer 4- and 5-night Western Caribbean cruises from Tampa, Florida, starting Oct. 16; and 7-night Caribbean itineraries, beginning December.

Royal Caribbean's return to Tampa is just as ceremonial as it is tangible to the area. Business Research & Economic Advisors estimated that a 3,000-passenger ship generates an average of $334,000 in passenger and crew onshore spending per call in a homeport city. 

Cruises have been able to restart from other ports in Florida, including Port Everglades, PortMiami and Port Canaveral, but this is the first time Tampa has been able to see ships leave.

Photos courtesy Port of Tampa

Later in December, Brilliance of the Seas will return to Tampa to offer 4- and 5-night Bahamas and Western Caribbean cruises beginning on December 16.

What's next for the restart

Four more Royal Caribbean cruises ships will restart operations before the year comes to a close.

Explorer of the Seas is scheduled to restart cruises when she sails from San Juan, Puerto Rico beginning on November 7. Explorer will sail 7-night Southern Caribbean sailings.

Royal Caribbean is especially excited to see Navigator of the Seas return to service, because it means the restart of cruises for the cruise line from the west coast.

Spotted: Royal Caribbean ship scheduled to sail from Los Angeles, California in 2021 | Royal Caribbean Blog

Navigator will offer 3-, 4- and 5-night Catalina Island, California, and Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico cruises from Los Angeles, beginning November 19.

Grandeur of the Seas will start cruising again when she offers  7- and 14-night Southern Caribbean sailings from Bridgetown, Barbados, starting December 5.

Finally, Enchantment of the Seas will begin cruising again in December, when she sails from Baltimore on December 23, offering 8-night Bahamas sailings, and select 12-night cruises to the Southern Caribbean.

You can see Royal Caribbean's cruise ship restart plans for more deployment information leading into 2022.

Royal Caribbean could be first cruise line to restart cruises in Tampa by October

18 Aug 2021

While cruise ships have restarted from most of Florida's ports, Tampa has been conspicuously absent.

Many cruise fans have wondered when cruise ships would start sailing from the western Florida port, and October might be the first opportunity.

At the Tampa Port Authority board meeting this week, port officials said a mid-October is possible.

Royal Caribbean announced earlier this month Serenade of the Seas would offer 4- and 5-night Western Caribbean cruises from Tampa, Florida, starting Oct. 16.

The first sailing is a five-night cruise to the Bahamas, followed by a 4-night sailing to Cozumel on October 21st.

Brilliance of the Seas is also scheduled to sail from Tampa to offer 4- and 5-night Bahamas and Western Caribbean cruises from Tampa, starting Dec. 16

Tampa officials now seem to echo that announcement in their own plans.

Tampa Port Authority Vice President of Business Development, Wade Elliott, said at a meeting that a mid-October restart is what they are expecting, "We anticipate that we will begin to see regular sailings from Port Tampa Bay starting again in mid-October, so we’re excited about that."

"We are encouraged to see the cruise industry slowly starting back up across the county."

Elliott said Port Tampa Bay’s facilities teams have been making cosmetic tune-ups to the terminals and the port will be ready for cruise travel in weeks.

"Structurally, we’re in good shape," he said.

Tampa Cruise Port: Embarkation, parking, directions & more

04 Sep 2018

The Tampa cruise port is a very convenient port of embarkation, located on the west coast of Florida and offering many Royal Caribbean cruises, primarily in the fall and winter months.  If you are taking a cruise out of the Port of Tampa, here is what you need to know to get there quickly and easily.

Directions to Port of Tampa

The Tampa cruise port is is located at 1101 Channelside Drive, Tampa, FL 33602.

Driving to the Port of Tampa is accessible via many major highways, and is located conveniently near downtown Tampa. It is also a short drive from Tampa International Airport.

Directions from Orlando

Take I-4 West to Exit 1. Go south on 21st Street and turn right on Adamo Drive (Hwy 60) then left onto Channelside Drive.

Directions from I-275

Take I-4 East to Exit 1. Go south on 21st Street and turn right on Adamo Drive (Hwy 60) then left onto Channelside Drive.

Directions from Tampa International Airport

  1. Get on FL-60 E (3.2 mi)
  2. Head northeast on George J Bean Inbound Pkwy/George J Bean Pkwy
  3. Continue to follow George J Bean Pkwy (2.3 mi)
  4. Use the right lane to take the ramp to FL-60 E (0.5 mi)
  5. Keep right at the fork, follow signs for Tampa and merge onto FL-60 E (0.4 mi)
  6. Take I-275 N to McKay St  (7.0 mi)
  7. Turn right onto McKay St 

Directions from Clearwater

Take Hwy 60 East across Tampa Bay and follow signs to I-275 North. I-275 will merge with I-4 East. Follow I-4 East to Exit 1. Go south on 21st Street and turn right on Adamo Drive (Hwy 60) then left onto Channelside Drive. 

How far is the cruise port in Tampa from Tampa International Airport?

The Tampa International Airport is approximately 15 miles from Port of Tampa, and it usually takes about 20 minutes to reach the Port of Tampa by car.

Taxi service by Yellow Cab and United Cab is available at the curbside outside the Baggage Claim Level. Both companies charge a flat rate fee of $28 to the cruise terminal.

For more information, contact Yellow Cab at (813) 253-0121 or United Cab at (813) 777-7777.

You can also take advantage of ride sharing services, such as Lyft or Uber.  Not only are these services simple to reserve, often the prices may be a better deal.  

How much is parking at Tampa cruise port?

The Port of Tampa provides parking options across the street from Terminals 2 and 3 at Channelside Parking Garage.  

You can pay for the parking once you arrive to the port, or opt to pre-pay online.

Passengers can pre-pay online for valet and self-parking. The self-serve parking rate is $15 per day (oversize vehicles cost $30 per day). The upgrade fee for valet parking is $20 more than the self-serve parking rate.

Parking fees are payable upon entry into the parking area with cash or credit card.

Where do Royal Caribbean cruises depart from in Tampa?

Royal Caribbean offers cruises from Terminal 2 and Terminal 3.

What time to arrive to Tampa cruise port

Generally speaking, Royal Caribbean opens the check-in and embarkation process in the late morning and keeps it running through the early afternoon.  When you complete online check-in, you will have a check-in time assigned to you, although these times are more a suggestion than a requirement.

In most cases, you can check-in as early as 10:00am.  You may arrive at any time in the morning or early afternoon, but we recommend checking in earlier than later to avoid longer lines.  Not only will checking in before noon beat the rush of other passengers who arrive later, but you will board the ship sooner.

There is no right or wrong time to arrive, as long as you are within the window of time Royal Caribbean lists for your sailing. Arriving early does add a risk of extra waiting around to be let on and staterooms are not accessible onboard until 1:00pm. However, the majority of guests tend to arrive in the early afternoon, which can lead to longer lines.

Two Royal Caribbean ships in Tampa for the first time, at the same time

23 Nov 2014

For the first time ever, two Royal Caribbean cruise ships were docked at the Port of Tampa, which local officials were celebrating as a "historic day".

Vision of the Seas and Brilliance of the Seas were both in port yesterday, which port executives marked as a first for Royal Caribbean.

Paul Anderson, president and CEO of the Port of Tampa port authority, commented on the news, "This is absolutely a beautiful day, a historic day for our port.  We are so proud to be partners with Royal Caribbean."

To celebrate this occasion, a plaque was given to Vision of the Seas' captain, Lis Lauritzen, in a ceremony that took place onboard the ship.

“I’m very proud that we were able to welcome her,” Anderson said afterward.

Vision of the Seas will depart every Saturday through April 11 on seven-day cruises to the western Caribbean. Brilliance of the Seas offers four- and five-day cruises to Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico.

Brilliance of the Seas makes maiden cruise to Tampa

17 Nov 2013

Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas made her inaugural cruise from Tampa, Florida on Saturday and is the ninth ship in the fleet to call Tampa home.

Brilliance of the Seas took her 2,100 passengers on a Western Caribbean cruise itinerary that will visit Key West, Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Roatan, Honduras.

When Brilliance of the Seas returns to Tampa next week, it will begin a series of four- and five-day cruises with ports of call in Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico.

Brilliance of the Seas will offer cruises from Tampa through May 1.

The Tampa Tribune reports to celebrate her first cruise, the Tampa Port Authority arranged a tour of the 12-story Radiance-class ship for authority board members and news reporters.

Royal Caribbean plans to deploy a second ship in Tampa for Caribbean cruises next year.

Royal Caribbean adds second ship to Tampa

29 Aug 2013

Royal Caribbean will add a second cruise ship that will sail out of Tampa starting in the fall of 2014.  Vision of the Seas will be added and offer seven-night Western Caribbean cruises from Tampa throughout winter 2014-15.  Vision of the Seas will join Brilliance of the Seas, which had been offering seasonal four- and five-night Western Caribbean cruises.

Vision of the Seas will sail a nine-night Southern Caribbean itinerary from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on November 6, 2014, to Tampa, with calls at Aruba, Curacao, Grand Cayman and Labadee, Royal Caribbean’s private beach paradise on the north coast of Haiti. Beginning November 15, Vision of the Seas will sail every Saturday from Tampa to destinations in the Western Caribbean, including Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Costa Maya, Roatan (Honduras) or Belize.  

Port officials are excited to welcome an additional ship to Tampa, which has been home port to Royal Caribbean ships since the first ship, Rhapsody of the Seas, called in January 2002.

Vision of the Seas is planned to recieve a refurbishment in September 2013, which will match Brilliance of the Seas' refurbisment that took place in May 2013.

Brilliance of the Seas coming to Tampa in 2013

16 May 2012

Royal Caribbean will send Brilliance of the Seas to Tampa in 2013-2014, replacing Jewel of the Seas.

Brilliance of the Seas will offer four and five-night western Caribbean cruises with stops in Cozumel, the Cayman Islands and either Key West or George Town.

Prior to arriving in Tampa, Brilliance will enter drydock in May 2013 and be revitalized to give it a major refurbishment including New onboard dining and entertainment options, revitalized staterooms, and other amenities including Wi-Fi, digital way-finding systems and an outdoor LED video wall.

Royal Caribbean and Universal Studios expand partnership to include Tampa cruises

22 Aug 2011

Royal Caribbean's partnership with Universal Studios Orlando is expanding to include cruises that go out of Tampa, Florida.

Royal Caribbean announced with Universal Studios that that they will start selling vacation packages that include a stay at Universal Studios Orlando along with a Royal Caribbean cruise.  The packages include three or four-night stays at Universal Studios along with four or five-night cruises on Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean will be homeporting Jewel of the Seas in November out of Tampa.  

This new deal is in addition to the partnership the two companies already offer for cruises out of Port Canaveral.

For Royal Caribbean, the expanded deal with Universal is another move into Disney's lucrative family-cruise niche. The Miami-based cruise operator last year struck a separate deal with DreamWorks Animation to outfit some of its ships with characters from animated movies such as Shrek and Madagascar, much the way Disney Cruise Line features popular children's characters such as Buzz Lightyear and Donald Duck.

Tampa declines to raise cruise tariffs

17 Aug 2010

Tampa, Florida port commissioners declined to approve staff recommendations to raise the daily parking garage rates from $14 to $15 and toincrease tariffs by 3 percent on cruse lines.

Raising the tariff would have affected Royal Caribbean because unlike other cruise companies in Tampa, Royal Caribbean does not have a long-term contract with the port that includes payments that can be lower than a tariff arrangement.  While Royal Caribbean may be subject to tariff increases in the future still, Royal Caribbean enjoys the luxury of being able to discontinue service at any time.

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