Advertisement
  1. Business

Holland America drops Tampa as cruise ship port, but maybe not forever

One of four cruise ship lines operating out of Port Tampa Bay, Holland America accounts for about 5 percent of the port's cruise ship passengers.
The Holland America ship Rotterdam, seen here on a Caribbean cruise in December, is being redeployed away from Tampa after April. Photo courtesy Margo Keesle
The Holland America ship Rotterdam, seen here on a Caribbean cruise in December, is being redeployed away from Tampa after April. Photo courtesy Margo Keesle
Published Jan. 22, 2019

TAMPA — Holland America is dropping Tampa as a cruise ship launch point after April, though the company says it might return to Port Tampa Bay in the future.

"Holland America Line reviews deployment plans several times each year for future scheduling," Holland America director of public relations Erik Elvejord said in an email response to an inquiry from the Tampa Bay Times.

"Several ships are moving to new itineraries, including (the) Rotterdam," which currently sails out of Tampa to the Caribbean and Europe, he said. "The Port of Tampa has been a great gateway for us to the Caribbean, and we will look forward to a continued partnership in the future."

Port officials say Holland America has carried about 50,000 of the one million-plus passengers that Port Tampa Bay saw last year, or about 5 percent of the total, so they don't expect the Rotterdam's departure after the spring to have a big impact on the port's overall cruise ship business.

"We still remain bullish" on the port's outlook for cruise ship growth, said Wade Elliott, the port's vice president of marketing and business development.

RECENT COVERAGE: Port Tampa Bay plans $10 million in cruise ship terminal upgrades

Elliott said port officials also are continuing discussions with Holland America, which has been one of four cruise lines operating out of Tampa, along with Carnival, Royal Caribbean International and Norwegian Cruise Line, about the possibility of returning to the port in the future. For now, the cruise line lists no sailings from Tampa after April, and none in 2020 and 2021.

The Rotterdam carries about 1,400 passengers, making it one of the refurbished ships that have become a niche market for Port Tampa Bay. The latest generation of 5,000- and 6,000-passenger "megaships" that sail from Fort Lauderdale and Miami won't fit under the Sunshine Skyway bridge, so the port is limited in the size of cruise ships it can accommodate.

Still, Port Tampa Bay has grown its cruise ship business nearly 20 percent since 2016 by bringing in refurbished ships in the 2,000- to 3,000-passenger range, as well as by marketing to Florida's growing population and serving easy-to-reach destinations in Mexico, Cuba and the western and southern Caribbean. This works well for many cruise passengers who often drive in from around Florida and neighboring states.

BACKGROUND: Port Tampa Bay finds niche in growing cruise industry

And those smaller ships have a charm all their own, said past Holland America cruiser Margo Keesler of St. Petersburg, so it's too bad to see one go.

"I think the big attraction was that it was a smaller ship," Keesler said of the Rotterdam. "When you arrive in a port you don't have 4,000 people getting off a ship. It's just a more intimate feeling."

MORE: Go here for more Business News

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

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. A beer is pictured in the outdoor games area of Park & Rec on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 in St. Petersburg. [LUIS SANTANA  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    The Towers of Channelside condo association has filed a lawsuit against the bar, as residents complain about noise.
  2. Yacht StarShip, a dining and water taxi company, has added the Lost Pearl pirate ship to its fleet just in time for Gasparilla. [Yacht StarShip]
    After years entertaining tourists in Virginia Beach, the Lost Pearl is settling into its new Tampa Bay home.
  3. Bank OZK CEO and chairman George Gleason, left, and managing director Greg Newman are photographed at the OZK Wynwood branch in Miami on November 13, 2019. [CARL JUSTE | Miami Herald] [Carlt Juste | Miami Herald]
    In fact, Bank OZK has emerged as a powerhouse in commercial lending generally.
  4. Flooding from an October king tide in Miami Shores fills streets, sidewalks and driveways at its peak. [Miami Herald]
    And it could lose up to 35 percent of its value by 2050, according to a new report.
  5. Delta Air Lines said Friday it will launch five new round-trip routes a day between Tampa and Miami starting May 4. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File) [MARK LENNIHAN  |  AP]
    Delta says the daily nonstop Miami service will create new connections for Tampa travelers to fly to Latin America and other international destinations.
  6. The Undercroft — the new home to a branch office of TheIncLab, an artificial intelligence firm — provides work space for several cybersecurity companies in one of Ybor City’s most historic structures, the El Pasaje building on E Ninth Avenue. RICHARD DANIELSON | Times [Richard Danielson]
    The Washington, D.C.-area company expects hiring 15 developers and engineers in the next twelve months and partnering with bay area universities to augment its staff with student interns.
  7. FILE - In this Dec. 17, 2019, file photo Amazon packages move along a conveyor prior to Amazon robots transporting packages from workers to chutes that are organized by zip code, at an Amazon warehouse facility in Goodyear, Ariz. Cashless shopping is convenient, but it can be a budget-buster. This year, make it more difficult to spend money online. This could help cut out some of your impulse purchases. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File) [ROSS D. FRANKLIN  |  AP]
    Here are some tips to avoid wasting money when you shop.
  8. Lori Baggett, managing partner of Carlton Fields in Tampa. [Carlton Fields]
    The Carlton Fields firm announced her promotion earlier this month.
  9. A new Publix in the Channell district located on the corner of E Twiggs Street and N Meridian Avenue in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times] ["OCTAVIO JONES   |   TIMES"  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Meanwhile in Tampa, the Westshore store could open soon.
  10. The Sears at University Mall near the University of South Florida in Tampa is in the process of being torn down to make way for a new mixed-use development project. [RD Management]
    This is what developers plan for the old Sears stores at University Mall and Citrus Park.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement