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Holland America returning to Port Tampa Bay next year

The cruise line dropped Tampa in the spring, but said it might be back.
Holland America says the cruise ship Veendam, shown here at the dock in Tampa in 2005, will return to Port Tampa Bay from November 2020 through April 2021. (Times files) [GOETHE, THOMAS M. | St. Petersburg Times]

TAMPA — When Holland America dropped Tampa as a cruise ship port last spring, it hinted it might be back in the future.

And so it will be.

“Holland America Line is excited about returning to Tampa with 18 Caribbean and two trans-Atlantic cruises from November 2020 to April 2021,” Holland America director of public relations Erik Elvejord said in an email to the Tampa Bay Times.

This is not exactly a surprise. Holland America acknowledged in January that it was suspending cruise operations out of Tampa after April, but made a point of saying that Tampa had been “a great gateway for us to the Caribbean, and we will look forward to a continued partnership in the future.”

For its return, the 1,350-passenger Veendam will make five- to 14-day sailings to western and southern Caribbean ports of call.

Assuming there are no changes in the lineup in the meantime, the Veendam’s return will give Port Tampa Bay six cruise lines making calls next winter: Holland America, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Celebrity and MSC Cruises, which announced its expansion to Tampa last week.

But Holland America, which says it reviews its ship deployment plans several times a year, is not saying that the return to Tampa is permanent.

“We have not published itineraries beyond spring 2021,” Elvejord said.

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