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Guide To Tampa Cruise Port, Florida

Updated on August 29, 2011
The city of Tampa
The city of Tampa | Source

Tampa, The Big Guava

Tampa is located on the western coast of Florida, about forty-five miles westwards from Orlando.

In the early part of the 19th century the Federal Government made a decision to resettle the Seminole Indians to the region around Tampa bay. Fort Brooke was established on the east bank of Hillsborough River to maintain control of the area. The new settlement endured many catastrophes, including yellow fever epidemics, war between the army and the Seminoles and a huge hurricane that demolished large sections of the village.

Then the 1880s heralded huge changes when Henry B Plant built a railroad through Tampa. The railroad terminated at the coastline at close by Port Tampa. Following the completion of the railroad, Plant set up a ferry ship service transporting passengers, goods and mail between Port Tampa, Key West, and Havana. Then Plant went on to construct a number of opulent hotels in the area, including Port Tampa Inn and the St Elmo Inn in Port Tampa, and the Tampa Bay Hotel in Tampa.

In 1885 the Tampa Board of Trade encouraged Don Vincente Martinez Ybor to establish a new cigar-rolling factory in the town. The cigar concern quickly grew in size, in part due to the fact it was ideally located between the retail markets of the USA and the supply of tobacco coming in through Port Tampa.

Tampa enjoyed a second dose of good commercial fortune when mineral explorations found vast phosphate deposits, a constituent of fertilizer, in Bone Valley eastwards from the city.

Today the city has grown into one of the major cities in Florida with a foremost commercial shipping harbor, and a thriving industrial area.

The city's ports have been very influential on the city’s economy since the 19th century. At the beginning Port Tampa served as the city’s port, but it was first joined by, then superseded by, the Port of Tampa. Tampa was a thriving port for passengers in the 1880s and 1890s but passenger numbers dwindled during the next century. Vacation cruises were only started in the 1980s when Regency Cruises and Holland America Line started operating cruises out the Port of Tampa to the Caribbean. The cruise company Carnival noted the demand for these cruises, and set up their own cruise operation out of Tampa in 1994.

Cruise Terminal 2
Cruise Terminal 2
Cruise Terminal 3
Cruise Terminal 3
Cruise Terminal 6
Cruise Terminal 6

Cruise Ship Facilities At Tampa

Cruise Terminal 2

Cruise Terminal 2 positioned on the Ybor Turning Basin was opened in 1998 as part of a 70-acre, downtown, waterside, multi-function project. Available facilites include a snack shop, baggage trolleys, customs, restrooms and taxi rank. The terminal has a single cruise ship berth. Cruise Terminal 2 is used by Carnival. Car Parking is available straight across the street at the Channelside multi-storey car park. Valet services are available.

Cruise Terminal 3

Cruise Terminal 3 was built in 2002 to meet a rising demand for cruises out of Tampa. The terminal offers baggage services, streamlined security and a streamlined cruise passenger embark and debark floor. The cruise terminal offers just one cruise ship quay. Terminal 3 is used by RCI, Holland America Line and Norwegian Cruise Line. Parking is available directly across Channelside Drive at the Channelside multi-deck car lot. Valet services are available.

Cruise Terminal 6

Cruise Terminal 6 is located just to the north of Terminal 3. Cruise Terminal 6 is employed as an overflow terminal. The terminal has just one quay. Car Parking is conveniently located directly onsite.

For the port website see Tampa Port Authority.

The Maya ruins at Tulum, a popular shore excursion from Cozumel, Mexico.
The Maya ruins at Tulum, a popular shore excursion from Cozumel, Mexico.

Itineraries On Offer

A 7 day voyage around the Caribbean is the most popular itinerary for cruises from Tampa.

The diverse range of ports-of-call make for a fabulous vacation. You can visit a wide number of interesting sights - in Cozumel join a shore excursion to see the fabulous Mexican ruins at Tulum, in Key West sample delicious Key Lime pie at Hemingway’s haunt Sloppy Joe’s, in Belize enjoy exciting Cave Tubing in the Sibun Caves, in Roatan swim in the warm waters off Half Moon Bay Beach and in Grand Cayman walk along the beautiful sands of fabulous 7 Mile Beach.

See cruises from Tampa for a Tampa cruise calendar.


Busch Gardens
Busch Gardens

Things To Do In Tampa

Henry B Plant Museum
Henry B Plant built the magnificent Tampa Bay hotel as a destination resort for winter tourists to Tampa. It’s lavishly constructed in the style of a Moorish palace, with finishing touches of Victorian design. Nowadays the hotel building is largely taken up by the University of Tampa, but it is also home to the fascinating Henry B Plant Museum, which chronicles the life and times of the famous businessman.

Busch Gardens Theme Park
At Busch Gardens you’ll be able to try not to scream on pulse-pounding themepark rides, enjoy unforgettable encounters with uncommon animals, take a memorable safari across the untamed Serengeti lains and take in a theater show with professional perfomers. Busch Gardens is sited 8 miles northwards from the cruise terminals.

Florida Aquarium
The whole family will marvel at the plethora of sea creatures on show at the Florida Aquarium. Exhibits include No Bone Zone, Wetlands, Coral Reefs, Ocean Commotion and Dragons Down Under. There are also special activities on offer like Penguins - Backstage Pass and Swim with Fish. The Aquarium is sited next to cruise terminal 3.

SS American Victory
The cargo ship SS American Victory sailed all through WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Today it has been restored by volunteers to make a interesting maritime museum. Come up the gang plank and check out the entire ship including the bridge, signaling equipment, the Captain's quarters, crew quarters and steering center. The ship is berthed at a dock close by the Florida Aquarium.

Tampa’s Riverwalk
Experience the best-known sights of the city and sweeping views across the Hillsborough river by hiking the newly promoted Tampa Riverwalk. As the path meanders along the waterside it visits many features including The Florida Aquarium, Cruise Ship Terminal 2, Channelside Bay Plaza, Cotanchobee Park, USF Park and the Tampa Museum of Art.

Journeying To/From the Cruise Port of Tampa

By Air

Tampa International Airport is positioned around nine miles from the cruise terminals. The quickest way to travel between the two is by cab.

By Car

From Orlando
Follow Interstate-4 westwards to exit 1, signed Ybor City. GoTravel southwards along 21st Street then make a right on Adamo Drive, signed Cruise Terminals 2 Thru 6 Hwy 60 then turn left onto Channelside Drive. For cruise terminal 6 turn left onto McKay Street to get to the open parking area located at the cruise terminal. For cruise terminals 2 and 3 continue for about three-quarters of a mile southwards along Channelside Drive. The Channelside parking lot is located on the right of the street across from the Florida Aquarium.

From St Petersburg
Take I-275 east. Join Interstate. Take I-4 eastwards to exit 1 . Go south on 21st Street and make a right on Adamo Drive, signed Cruise Terminals 2 Thru 6 then turn left onto Channelside Drive. For cruise terminal 6 make a left onto McKay Street to access the open parking lot next to the terminal. For cruise terminals 2 and 3 continue for about three-quarters of a mile southwards along Channelside Drive. The Channelside parking building is sited on the right of the street just across from the Florida Aquarium.

From Tampa International Airport
Exit the airport and follow signage to Interstate-275 North. Take Interstate. Follow I-4 east to exit 1 . Continue southwards along 21st Street and turn right on Adamo Drive, signed Cruise Terminals 2 Thru 6 then turn left onto Channelside Drive For cruise terminal 6 turn left onto McKay Street to reach the open parking area next to the terminal. For cruise terminals 2 and 3 continue for about three-quarters of a mile southwards along Channelside Drive. The Channelside parking lot is on the right of the street across from the glass roofed Florida Aquarium.

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