Tampa, Florida lies along the Gulf of Mexico and is home to a very popular cruise port. According to Cruise Critic, Port Tampa Bay has evolved into a year-round bustling cruise port for mostly Western Caribbean and Panama Canal itineraries, though cruises to many destinations are available from Tampa. Tampa's cruise port is close to major airports and a number of cruise lines visit the port.
Caribbean Cruises From Tampa
Royal Caribbean and Carnival operate many Caribbean cruises out of Port Tampa Bay. Everything from standard 4, 5, and 7-day cruises to multi-week options are available. You can also choose from repositioning cruises that have you depart from Tampa, but finish in another port.
- Carnival offers a 14-night cruise from Tampa that takes you to the Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Panama, Aruba, Bonaire, and St. Maarten, ultimately ending in Baltimore, Maryland. This repositioning cruise starts at $3,059 per person for an inside cabin.Maarten, ultimately ending in Baltimore, Maryland. This repositioning cruise starts at $3,059 per person for an inside cabin.
- Royal Caribbean offers week-long and shorter cruises. Their four and five night Western Caribbean cruises are often priced as low as $200 per person. Four night cruises head to Cozumel, while the five night options include Grand Cayman in addition to Cozumel. Prices for the four night Royal Caribbean Western Caribbean cruise start at $209 per person for an inside cabin.
Wondering which ship you should book? Expect carriers like Carnival and Royal Caribbean to cater to younger crowds with some heavy partiers. Many of these cruises are so deeply discounted that you'll find large groups of friends getting together for a wild week at sea. If you're looking for a more laid-back and mature crowd, consider Holland America.
Mexico and Central America Cruises
Mexico and Central American ports of call from Tampa usually include Cozumel and Costa Maya in Mexico. Depending on the length of the cruise, Roatan and Belize City are other typical ports as well. Four and seven night cruises are typically the norm for those strictly wanting a Central America and Mexico cruise out of Tampa.
- Carnival's four-day Western Caribbean cruises only stop in Cozumel and pricing starts at $209 per person for an inside person.
- The seven-night Western Caribbean option on Royal Caribbean starts at $619 per person for an inside cabin. The itinerary includes Costa Maya, Roatan, and Belize City as well as Cozumel.
Transatlantic and European Repositioning Cruises
If you're after a Transatlantic crossing cruise that departs from Tampa, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, and Norwegian are your best bets. Some people really enjoy the cruise ship experience so a week at sea is the perfect way to relax.
- Royal Caribbean has a 14-night option that stops in Key West, Portugal, Gibraltar, Malaga, and then ends in Barcelona ($862 US per person for inside cabin).
- Norwegian's 14-night option stops in Bermuda, the Azores, and ends in Denmark. Inside cabins start at $799 per person.
Cruise Ships in Tampa
The cruise ships that depart from Tampa are all relatively similar with regards to amenities and offerings. They tend to be larger ships with endless entertainment, big casinos, numerous dining options, and ample pool and sundeck space. These are not ultra-luxury cruises, but you'll find beautifully appointed suites if your budget allows. Look for other luxury touches like special wine packages or dining options, especially on lines like Holland America. You will need to factor tipping, alcohol, port charges, and excursions in your budget.
Cruise Season in Tampa
Just like many of the ports of call, Tampa lies within the area affected by the Atlantic hurricane season. From June through October, there is certainly a higher risk of hurricanes and inclement weather. November through April is an ideal time to consider a cruise that includes stops in the Caribbean.
Facilities at Port Tampa Bay
There are three cruise terminals at Port Tampa Bay.
- Cruise Terminal #2: Home to Carnival Cruise Line
- Cruise Terminal #3: Home to Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean
- Cruise Terminal #6: Home to Holland America Line
The three terminals offer ample parking and valet services are available at Terminal 2 and Terminal 3. Channelside Bay Plaza and the Florida Aquarium are both on either side of Cruise Terminal 2, while they are within close walking distance from Terminal 3 and Terminal 6.
Enjoy Tampa Before or After Your Cruise
There are plenty of great cruise options departing from Tampa, and you may as well enjoy a bit of time in this lovely city in Central Florida when you are traveling there to take a cruise. For tips on how to make the most out of your cruise vacation, check out the Tampa Port Authority website for suggestions on what else to see and do in the area before and after your cruise.