Tampa Cruise Port: Terminals, Transportation, What’s Nearby

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Tampa, known for its vibrant blend of American and Latin culture, historic charm, modern amenities, and abundant sunshine, stands out proudly as one of Florida’s many gems. At the heart of this bustling city and year-round tourist destination lies the Port of Tampa Bay, a departure point for many of the world’s top cruise lines.

It caters mostly to cruise adventures in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, and it is a common departure point for American cruise passengers aiming to enjoy some tropical sunshine and adventure. We’ll explain everything you need to know about the Tampa Cruise Port and the surrounding attractions and amenities.

Get the most out of your vacation time in Tampa with this comprehensive guide.

Where Is the Tampa Cruise Port? 

Tampa Cruise Port, also known as the Port of Tampa Bay, is strategically located along the city’s trendy and vibrant Channelside Drive. This location not only means that the port is in a part of the city that is bustling with activity and offers plenty of things for passengers to do, but it also means that it is highly accessible from all parts of the city. 

If you’re mapping out your travels, the port can be found at the following address: Tampa Cruise Port Address: 651 Channelside Drive, Tampa, Florida 33602 

Number of Tampa Cruise Terminals and Piers 

The Port of Tampa Bay is home to three modern cruise terminals, each designed to offer passengers a comfortable and well-organized boarding experience. Although only three of the terminals are dedicated to servicing cruise ships, they are not named in order:

Port Tampa Bay Cruise Terminal 2
Port Tampa Bay Cruise Terminal 2 (Photo Credit: Feng Cheng)

Terminal 2

Primarily used by Carnival Cruise Line, it is a departure point for ships headed to sunny destinations throughout the Caribbean and Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It is located directly at the southern end of the port complex at 651 Channelside Drive. 

Terminal 3

Mostly used by Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line, it has long berths, making it a more suitable docking option for larger ships. The terminal is located at 815 Channelside Drive, towards the north end of the port, which makes it much easier to get to from the main port parking lot. 

Terminal 6

Located a little closer to downtown at 1333 McKay Street, this cruise terminal was initially reserved as a homeport for Holland America Cruise Line, but now it is used mainly for spillover for any cruise line looking to dock during the busy season. 

All three terminals are along the same strip of water near the city’s Channel District. Ships dock along the Ybor Turning Basin, making it easy for passengers to reach any of the three cruise terminals from downtown and beyond. 

Cruise Lines and Berthing Allocations

As mentioned, Terminal 2 primarily hosts Carnival ships, while Terminal 3 serves as the main docking point for Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line ships.

Cruise Ships in Tampa
Photo Courtesy: Port Tampa Bay

Terminal 6 is now more versatile, hosting multiple different cruise lines throughout the year, including Holland America Line, Celebrity Cruises, and Margaritaville at Sea.

Tampa Cruise Port Terminal Facilities and Services 

Every cruise terminal offers free public Wi-Fi in all the waiting and seating areas. There are also ample seating areas to ensure that all passengers can relax before their cruise departure after clearing security.

Parking at Tampa Cruise Port
Parking at Tampa Cruise Port (Photo Credit: Felix Mizioznikov)

Each terminal is also outfitted with well-maintained restroom facilities and baby changing stations in both the men’s and women’s bathrooms. If you need assistance with your luggage, Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 have luggage porters and temporary luggage storage areas on the first floors of both buildings. 

The three terminal buildings were all designed to be ADA-compliant, meaning they are wheelchair accessible and offer wheelchair-friendly bathroom stalls. If you need to use a wheelchair or need mobility assistance prior to boarding, contact your cruise line ahead of time to see what arrangements they can make for you. 

Port of Tampa Bay Cruise Passenger Parking

The Port of Tampa Bay’s cruise facilities were designed with the understanding that many guests would be driving into the city from elsewhere, so they would need ample overnight parking. With this knowledge, the port offers a massive parking lot, and there are other nearby options for when the port is at its busiest during peak cruise season in the winter.

Port Parking

The main parking lot is located directly across from Terminal 6 but within walking distance of the other two cruise terminals. Overnight rates cost $15 per day, with a one-time valet fee of $20 on top of the daily rate.

Given that it is patrolled 24 hours a day and conveniently close to the terminals, it is definitely the preferred choice. It’s worth booking ahead of time to ensure you get a spot.

Tampa Port Parking
Photo Credit: VIAVAL TOURS / Shutterstock

Channelside Drive Private Lots

A few nearby private lots also offer budget-friendly parking. With how busy the port can get, these private lots are a good option when the main lot is at capacity. Remember that these lots are not necessarily patrolled overnight, so paying extra for Port Parking can be worthwhile if it is available. 

Transportation to and from the Port of Tampa Bay

The Port of Tampa Bay is easy to reach due to its convenient location just outside the city’s downtown core. 

If you are flying into Tampa, Tampa International Airport is just 7.5 miles away. If you are driving yourself, these directions will get you there in 10 to 20 minutes:

Cruise Ships in Florida Port
Cruise Ships in Florida Port (Photo Credit: TetKabrit / Shutterstock)

Follow Interstate 275 to I-4 East. Take Exit 1 to 21st Street, then. Turn onto Adamo Drive. Follow signs for the Port of Tampa Bay Cruise Terminals, which will feature a silhouette of a cruise ship. Take the turn onto Channelside Drive, then continue until you see the main entrance to the port.

Read Also: Full Guide on Car Rental Near Tampa Cruise Port

The parking lot is well-marked, and so is the drop-off point. Remember that traffic can be an issue, so you’ll want to give yourself extra time if you arrive the same day your ship departs. 

Tampa Cruise Port Transportation Options 

Given that Tampa is a major commuter city, there is no shortage of transportation options available to visitors. Plenty of taxis operate in the city, and most offer a flat rate of roughly $30 to get you to the cruise terminals from the airport or any of the major hotels in and around the downtown area.

Taxis at Tampa Cruise Port
Taxis at Tampa Cruise Port (Photo Credit: VIAVAL)

The city also has a very active rideshare presence, with both Uber and Lyft services widely available. For those looking to save money, rideshare vehicles can be a little bit more affordable than a taxi, but you need to avoid rush hour, as surge rates can easily tip the scales. 

Some main cruise lines also offer complimentary shuttle services between the airport and the port. Check with your cruise line beforehand to ensure this is the case, and book your spot on one of the shuttles. 

Public Transportation

To cut costs, you can take the TECO Line Streetcar, which runs from downtown to Channelside Drive. Not only does this electric streetcar come every 15 minutes, but it is also completely free, even for visitors from outside of the city! 

What Is the Best Time to Visit Tampa? 

One of the main reasons why Tampa is such a popular tourist destination is its unique blend of tropical weather and the modern amenities you would get with any major American city.

NCL Cruise Ship Docked at Tampa Cruise Port
NCL Cruise Ship Docked at Tampa Cruise Port (Photo Credit: fitzcrittle)

That said, there are fairly distinct seasonal variations, which can impact when you want to visit and how busy the cruise port will be. The best time to visit will depend on your preferences and budget, but here’s a basic breakdown of what you can expect: 

Summer (June to September)

The summer months tend to be humid with fairly significant rainfall. Tampa is exposed to fairly heavy tropical storms, so even though the warmer temperatures may seem pleasant, you might need to plan indoor activities and pack rain gear. 

Typically, highs around 90°F are expected, plus heavy humidity. Despite the hot temperatures and occasional showers, summer is lively in Tampa. 

Fall (October to November)

With more pleasant temperatures in the 75° to 85°F range, fall is a great time to visit. Rainfall also tends to subside, and the city remains lively, with events like the Clearwater Jazz Holiday and International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival drawing tourists. 

Winter (December to February)

Winter is the peak season for tourism and activity around the cruise port. With temperatures ranging from 50° to 75°F, low humidity, and limited precipitation, it’s a great time to visit the city and surrounding outdoor activities, like Busch Gardens. 

Spring (March to May)

Temperatures increase from 60° to 80°F, while precipitation remains relatively limited. In April, the city also is at its most beautiful. With tropical flowers blooming and plenty of sunshine, it can be a welcome escape from the colder climates throughout the country.

Spring is also the time when the Tampa Bay Blues and Gasparilla Festivals are hosted, making the city an exciting time to visit.

Nearby Amenities and Attractions 

The following can be found within walking distance of the port, making it easy to kill time if you plan to arrive early: 

Tampa Riverwalk and Attractions

This scenic 2.4-mile walking trail is a hub of activity throughout the year. With a nice mix of restaurants, public parks, bars, murals, stores, historical monuments, and even the Florida Aquarium – the Riverwalk’s most popular attraction, you don’t want to miss out.

Tampa Riverwalk
Tampa Riverwalk (Photo Credit: Bilanol)

You’ll also find the Tampa Museum of Art and the Glazer Children’s Museum along the walk. With the Tampa Riverwalk and its numerous attractions only 1.2 miles away, you can walk there from the port in less than 30 minutes by following East Cumberland Avenue. 

If you plan on visiting numerous attractions along the way, we recommend picking up a Tampa Riverwalk Pass, which provides entry to seven unique attractions for one reasonable price. 

Ybor City

Just 2.8 miles away, this historic district of Tampa offers visitors an opportunity to see the city’s more culturally enriching side. With numerous bars and restaurants and a vibrant nightlife, it’s a popular destination for younger travelers.

Ybor City, Tampa
Ybor City, Tampa (Photo Credit: Heidi Besen)

The area has a distinct Columbian and Cuban influence, with numerous restaurants and bistros showcasing the tastes and smells of these two Latin nations. It’s also a great place to purchase cigars for your cruise or even watch master cigar makers roll them by hand. You’ll also find the Tampa Baseball Museum in this exciting neighborhood and the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts.

To add to the unique atmosphere, chickens can roam free, making you feel like you’ve been transported to a Caribbean village. You can also get to and from Ybor City by taking the free TECO Line Streetcar System!

If you have more time before or after your cruise, you can also visit some of Tampa’s most popular attractions: 

Busch Gardens

Approximately 10 miles from the Port of Tampa, this exciting amusement park offers guests the opportunity to ride thrilling roller coasters, view exciting wildlife, and watch live entertainers. There’s no wonder it’s one of the city’s most iconic attractions.

Busch Gardens
Busch Gardens (Photo Credit: Art_Gants)

ZooTampa at Lowry Park

This massive 63-acre zoo is one of the largest and most interesting wildlife preserves in the entire state. Although it’s about 6 miles from the cruise port, the drive is relatively simple and short. You can be at the zoo parking lot in roughly 25 minutes by following North Nebraska Avenue. 

Florida Aquarium

We already mentioned the Florida Aquarium, but it’s worth noting this must-see attraction again. Rated among the best aquariums in the country, it is an interesting and educational option for the whole family.

Florida Aquarium, Tampa Bay
Florida Aquarium, Tampa Bay (Photo Credit: Feng Cheng)

Given that it’s just a four-minute walk from Terminal 3 and right next to Terminal 2, you really can’t miss it. Plus, right outside the aquarium, you can see the American Victory Ship & Museum, a fully restored warship from the Second World War. The ship floats in the harbor and acts as an interactive maritime museum!

Dining and Shopping in Tampa

If you are looking for dining and shopping options near the port, you’re in luck. There are plenty of options within a short walk or reasonable taxi ride of the port terminals. 

Channelside Bay Plaza is a multi-purpose entertainment complex located directly on Channelside Drive near the port. With various dining and shopping options, it is perfect for pre- or post-cruise entertainment.

If you are looking for more options, it is worth traveling to Downtown Tampa. The city’s core has plenty of gourmet restaurants and trendy boutiques, which are easy to discover while exploring. 

Channelside Walk Way Plaza
Channelside Walk Way Plaza (Photo Credit: VIAVAL)

Consider taxiing to Tampa’s International Plaza and Bay Street for more high-end shopping. The mall is home to all the usual designer brands you would find in any high-end mall, so there is something for everyone. It’s also a good option if you forgot something for your trip or want to buy a few last-minute outfits, as there are plenty of clothing stores throughout the mall. 

If you want an authentic taste of Tampa, go to Ybor City. Do yourself a favor and get an authentic Cuban sandwich. They’re filling and delicious. Carmine’s Restaurant and Bar is one of the top choices in Ybor City, but Abella’s Cuban Restaurant is just as good!

You’ll also find plenty of restaurants near the cruise port that are serving other Tampa classics, such as deviled crabs, grouper sandwiches, and empanadas. 

For a modern take on classic American cuisine, try Naked Farmer, just a short walk from the cruise port on Water Street. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How far is it from Tampa Airport to the cruise terminal? 

The Tampa International Airport is 7.5 miles from the closest cruise terminal, but traffic can make the relatively short journey take longer than expected. If you travel during the city’s rush hours, between 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays, you will want to give yourself more time.

How much is a taxi from Tampa airport to the cruise port?

While meter rates can differ, most taxis will offer a flat rate of $30 to get from Tampa International Airport to the Tampa Bay Cruise Port. Just ask your driver to make sure before you get into the cab, as most will offer this flat rate if asked. You may be charged the more expensive and unpredictable meter rate if you don’t ask.

Does Tampa Airport have a cruise shuttle?

The airport does not operate its own cruise terminal shuttle, but many major cruise lines do. Whether or not you can take a shuttle will depend on which cruise line you are traveling with, so make sure you check ahead of time.

If you would rather travel by shuttle bus, you can book through Tampa Bay Airport Shuttle Service, but this is a paid service rather than a complimentary shuttle.

Emrys Thakkar
Emrys Thakkar
The founder of Cruise Hive which was established in 2008 as one of the earliest cruise blogs in the industry. Emrys has been reporting on the latest cruise industry news since the site first launched. Expert insights and tips featured on a number of publications including The Express, Business Insider, and more. Worked for Carnival Cruise Line for 8 years and is well and truly dedicated to cruising! Has also been on a number of cruises so can offer an insight into the industry that many will not be able to do. What's even more impressive is that Emrys has traveled the world by visiting more than 34 countries, lived in China for 8 years, and cruised the Caribbean, Baltic, Mediterranean, Asia, and Europe. Find out more about us here.


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