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  1. Business

Celebrity Cruises returning to Port Tampa Bay late next year

The Celebrity Constellation, which will start sailing out of Port Tampa Bay in October 2020, marking the return of Celebrity Cruises to the port for the first time since 2007. The ship carries up to 2,184 passengers with a crew of 1,022. (Photo courtesy Celebrity Cruises)

TAMPA — Celebrity Cruises will return to Tampa for the first time in more than a decade starting in October 2020.

"Our guests and travel advisors have been asking us to return to Tampa since our last call there in 2007," Celebrity president and chief executive officer Lisa Lutoff-Perlo said in an announcement of the service, which will feature the ship Celebrity Constellation. By the time it arrives in Tampa, the vessel will have undergone a makeover as part of the cruise line's $500 million "Celebrity Revolution" renovation program for its fleet.

Noting that Tampa is "also experiencing quite a renaissance" as a result of the $3 billion Water Street Tampa development project, Lutoff-Perlo said, "how fitting for our evolving brand to return to an evolving city with a completely 'revolutionized' ship?'"

After being renovated next May, the Celebrity Constellation will offer three 10- or 11-night round-trip sailings to the eastern and southern Caribbean as well as to the Panama Canal and Central America.

The ship carries up to 2,184 passengers with a crew of 1,022, a workable size for Port Tampa Bay. In recent years the port has grown its cruise business to more than 1 million passengers a year by focusing on targeting easy-to-reach destinations, capitalizing on the bay area's population growth and bringing in refurbished mid-sized ships instead of chasing after megaships that might carry up to 6,000 passengers but wouldn't fit under the Sunshine Skyway.

THE PLAN: Port Tampa Bay finds niche in growing cruise industry

"The addition of this premium brand to the explosive growth that Tampa Bay is experiencing will add an extraordinary adventure to the many choices vacationers have in Tampa Bay," Port Tampa Bay president and chief executive officer Paul Anderson said in a statement released through the cruise line.

Contact Richard Danielson at rdanielson@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times

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