Published on : Tuesday, January 17, 2017
The port ready to attend 1 million cruise passengers for the first time this year, a sizeable feat considering the height limitations of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and the other active cruise ports better positioned around Florida.
Interestingly, Port Tampa Bay has refurbished its smaller ships and is making scope for a growing population and easy-to-reach destinations rather than depending on the top-of-the-line megaships.
In 2016, Port Tampa Bay handled 813,800 passengers. For the first quarter of the 2017 fiscal year – which falls in line with the busy winter cruise season – the port welcomed 239,301 passengers, a 3 percent increase over 2016. More ships will set sail out of Tampa Bay this year, too – the number of cruise liners have grown from five seasonal and year-round ships to seven this year, including the addition of the Royal Caribbean Empress of the Seas, which will be among the first to sail to Havana, Cuba, beginning in April.
Edward Miyagishima, vice president of communications and external affairs at Port Tampa Bay said that they have been projecting for years that there will be a short-term ramp up in cruise business, and that’s what they are seeing now.
Port officials want to spend $1.8 million to renovate Terminal 6, a cruise terminal to accommodate the influx of more ships. The renovation also serves as part of the port’s Vision 2030 master plan, which aims to create parks and walkable waterfront areas in Channelside in line with Strategic Property Partners’ ambitious plans to transform 50 acres of downtown Tampa.