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As year ends, Port Tampa Bay gears up for busy holiday cruise rush

Six ships will pass through the port by Monday. Another 19 will arrive by Jan. 2. Plan accordingly.
Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas will call Port Tampa Bay on Saturday, one of six ships to come and go from the port by Monday.
Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas will call Port Tampa Bay on Saturday, one of six ships to come and go from the port by Monday. [ DAN LAMONT | Royal Caribbean ]
Published Dec. 9, 2022

About 14 months after the cruise industry returned to Port Tampa Bay, ending a year-and-a-half hiatus wrought by COVID-19, the port is bracing for a holiday rush.

From Saturday to Monday, six ships will board and disembark at the port, bringing nearly 22,000 passengers downtown — the port’s busiest three-day cruise stretch of the year. After that: 19 more cruises in 19 days through Jan. 2.

In all, the port will see 29 ships sail from Tampa in December, bringing the equivalent of 100,000 people downtown. It caps a busy year in which 1.2 million travelers cruised on 260 sailings in and out of Tampa.

Cruise ships bring approximately 20% of the port’s annual revenue.

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“Steps from cruise terminals are new hotel and dining options, breweries, and family-friendly attractions,” port CEO and president Paul Anderson said in a statement. “Nearby beaches and an award-winning airport make Tampa an attractive destination in-and-of-itself. We are so proud of the relationship with our cruise partners, and we realize the importance of this industry on the economy of Tampa Bay and the entire region.”

Another 28 sailings are scheduled for the port in January.