There are many advantages to choosing a cruise from Port Tampa Bay Cruise Terminal. Quieter, and easy to reach, the port serves less cruise ships than other cruise ports in Florida including Port of Miami, Port Everglades and Port Canaveral. Tampa Cruise Terminal is close to Orlando, making it ideal for combining a cruise with a stopover for shopping and theme parks. It is also a short drive from some of the best beaches in Florida around Clearwater and St Pete Beach.
When it comes to cruise parking, you can park just a short walk from Port Tampa Bay Cruise Terminals or use cruise parking off-site that includes a free shuttle to and from the port.
If you want to extend your cruise or are considering a combined Stay and Park package, you’ll find plenty of great deals on hotels in Tampa close to the cruise terminal.
Port Tampa Bay currently serves ships from three major cruise lines: Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean International and Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL). Part of the cargo port in the downtown area of Tampa, there are currently three dedicated cruise terminals:
Cruise Terminal 2
Tampa Cruise Terminal 2 is located at 651 Channelside Drive, directly across the street from the port car parking garage. It makes it very easy to drop off passengers and then self-park or use the valet parking option. Check out the traffic directions and parking access here: Map Tampa Cruise Terminal 2
This state-of-the-art cruise terminal is home to Carnival Cruise Lines. It has three berths offering MLW depths between 31’3” and 33 feet, berth lengths of 548, 600 and 621 feet and a maximum beam of 106 feet.
Cruise Terminal 3
Tampa Cruise Terminal 3is at 815 Channelside Drive and is used by Norwegian Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean International. Check out the location and recommended directions here: Map Tampa Cruise Terminal 3
The entrance is directly opposite the cruise parking garage and has a drop-off point for passengers, taxis and valet parking customers. It has a longer berth length of 1050 feet, a depth of 33’6” and a maximum beam of 106 feet, which means it can accommodate larger cruise ships.
Cruise Terminal 6
Tampa Cruise Terminal 6 is the northernmost cruise terminal, located at 1333 McKay St. It formerly served Holland America Cruise Lines which no longer operates out of Tampa. Cruise Terminal 6 is now used by various cruise lines as required.
Here’s a map of Terminal 6 showing the one-way streets and parking access in Port Tampa Bay. Map Tampa Cruise Terminal 6
This full-service cruise terminal has ample self-parking just steps from the cruise ship as well as a drop-off point for passengers, taxis and valet parking. It has three berths: a shorter 275-foot berth and two longer berths each 600 feet in length. It has a maximum depth of 30’ 6” and a maximum beam of 106 feet. Due to its location, it has the fastest access to downtown.
Port Tampa Bay Cruise Terminal Address and Location
If you need to contact Tampa Bay Cruise Port, the official address is:
1101 Channelside Drive, Tampa, FL 33602
Telephone: 813-905-7678 (PORT)
Tampa Cruise Terminals are located in the Channelside District in the heart of downtown Tampa. The port is close to historic Ybor City, a former manufacturing hub for cigar making.
The area now has a good choice of shopping, restaurants, hotels and nightlife along with some of Tampa’s top attractions. These include the amazing Florida Aquarium which has a 250,000 square-foot aquarium complete with divers!
How to Get to Port Tampa Bay Cruise Terminals
Arriving by Air
If you are arriving by air, Tampa International Airport (TPA) is 9 miles northwest of Tampa cruise port. Transfers by taxi take about 20 minutes, depending on traffic conditions along the I-275. The flat rate is currently $28.
There may be a shuttle bus provided by your cruise line, so check with them first.
If you are renting a car from the airport, follow the directions below.
Arriving by Car
From Orlando, take Interstate 4 to Exit 1. Go south on 21st Street, turn right on Adamo Drive (Hwy 60) then left on Channelside Drive to Tampa Bay Port Cruise Terminals.
From the north/airport/I-275. Follow I-275 until it merges with I-4 East then follow it to Exit 1. Go south on 21st Street, turn right on Adamo Drive (Hwy 60) then left on Channelside Drive to the Tampa Bay Port Cruise Terminals.
From the south/Interstate 75. From I-75 north, take Exit 50 to the Crosstown Expressway (Hwy 618). Take Exit 9, turn right on Adamo Drive (Hwy 60) then left on Channelside Drive to Tampa Bay Port Cruise Terminals.
If you are staying at a hotel near the Port of Tampa Bay, the TECO Line Streetcar offers free transportation between downtown hotels, Channelside and Tampa Cruise Terminals. If you have time to explore the area, hop aboard for a 22-minute tour and see the Florida Aquarium and Ybor City Historic District.
Arriving at Tampa Cruise Terminal
If you are arriving by shuttle or taxi, there is a drop-off point right outside your cruise terminal. Make sure you specify the correct terminal and the name of the cruise ship as there are often several cruise ships in port belonging to the same cruise line. It can be quite a long walk if you are dropped off at the wrong ship!
Leave your heavy luggage at the drop-off point and just take your hand luggage, passport and cruise paperwork with you to check-in at Tampa Cruise Terminal.
As well as firearms, knives, flammable and explosive items, there are some other surprising items that are banned from cruises, so make sure you leave them at home. These include:
- Irons, kettles and heaters (excluding hair dryers and hair appliances)
- Alcoholic beverages
- Surge protectors
- Drones, boats and kites
Security and Check-in
You will be screened as part of the security process, similar to pre-flight screening at an airport. Hand luggage may be subject to hand searches as well as being scanned. Make sure you are not carrying anything sharp that could be considered a weapon. Liquids are not permitted and alcohol will also be confiscated until the end of your cruise.
Once you have passed through security, you can join the line at check-in. There are dozens of manned counters with trained cruise personnel waiting to register you. However, with up to 3,000 passengers and up to 1,800 crew, it can be a slow process so prepare to be patient.
As part of the Tampa cruise check-in process, you will be photographed and asked to provide credit card details. You will then be given your cruise pass. This is your stateroom key and serves as a charge card for any onboard purchases, drinks, daily gratuities, casino chips and chargeable amenities during your cruise.
All charges will show on your statement and can be viewed on the TV in your stateroom. At the end of your cruise, or when you reach your agreed credit limit, the amount will be charged to your credit card.
It is very important to keep your cruise pass safe, especially when you go ashore as you cannot return to the ship without it! If you lose it, report the loss immediately to the ship’s staff.
Tampa Cruise Terminal Amenities
Cruise terminals are fairly basic at Tampa Bay Port although there is plenty of seating and restrooms. There is also free Wi-Fi once you are inside the terminal building.
If you arrive well ahead of your cruise departure, the best place to find refreshments and drinks is at the Channelside Bay Plaza, just a short walk from Terminal 2.
Alternatively, use one of the nearby hotels such as the Marriott Waterside which has a pleasant waterfront terrace, bar and restaurant.
When Should You Arrive at Port Tampa Bay Cruise Terminal?
The official Tampa cruise information suggests that passengers should arrive at the terminal at least 90 minutes prior to departure. This will allow ample time for passengers to be taken through security and complete the check-in process.
Disabled/ADA Facilities at Tampa Bay Cruise Terminal
All cruise terminals at Tampa Bay Port are ADA compliant and wheelchair friendly. Contact your cruise line if you require use of a wheelchair or disabled assistance during boarding and disembarkation.
Cruise parking at Tampa Cruise Terminals is free for registered disabled drivers and disabled veterans at the onsite parking lot at the port. Vehicles must be modified for disabled drivers, have a wheelchair ramp/lift, or official DV plates.
Tips for Cruise Disembarkation in Port Tampa Bay
All your luggage should be tagged with the color/group identification tags provided and left outside your stateroom door on the night before disembarkation. It will be collected by porters. On arrival, bags are deposited in a huge hangar in groups by tag color.
Cruisers will be asked to wait in various allocated points around the ship. When your group is called, you can head to the gangway to disembark. Your cruise pass will be scanned one final time and then canceled so no return to the ship is possible.
Once you have located your luggage, porters are available to assist you to the immigration desk. An official will check your passport and stamp your entry into the USA.
If you have not arranged a cruise tour or transfer to the airport you will find plenty of taxis right outside Tampa Cruise Terminal to take you to your destination.
Facts about Port Tampa Bay
- Port Tampa Bay opened in 1924
- It currently covers over 5,000 acres
- In 2014 it was rebranded under the new name Port Tampa Bay
- Port Tampa Bay is Florida’s largest port, handling over 37 million tons of cargo compared to 7.42 million tons by Port of Miami
- Tampa Cruise Terminals handled 1,043,329 cruise passengers in 2018, a figure that has been steadily growing since 2007
- In 2018, it handled 233 calls by cruise ships.
- From Oct 2018 to March 2019 (the main cruise season), it handled 163 cruise ships and 750,891 passengers
History/ Future Plans for Tampa Bay Port
Port Tampa Bay is the fastest-growing cruise port in Florida. It is already Florida’s largest and most diversified port for cargo, handling over 37 million tons per year. It currently handles around one million cruise passengers annually, in addition to container imports, dry and liquid bulk cargo, petroleum and cars. It is also one of the largest shipbuilding and repair ports in SE USA.
Port Tampa Bay has plans to invest $380 million over the next five years to build new docks with deep-water access, modern terminals and navigational improvements. It also plans to install gantry cranes able to handle the largest post-Panamax ships.
Port Tampa Bay has earmarked over 300 acres for new industrial development including a new berth for cruise ships as part of its Vision 2030 plans. This includes developing world-class passenger facilities to optimize the cruise experience for visitors and generate cruise-related benefits and jobs for the Tampa community.
One of the biggest news stories regarding the future of Tampa Bay as a cruise port is that Celebrity Cruises plan to make Tampa the homeport for Celebrity Constellation from the Winter 2020 season.
FAQs on Tampa Cruise Terminal
How far is Tampa Airport from the cruise terminal?
Tampa International Airport (TPA) is 9 miles northwest of the port. Transfers by taxi take about 20 minutes, depending on traffic conditions on the I-275. The flat rate is currently $28.
How much is parking at the Tampa cruise port?
Parking at Tampa Bay Port is $15 per day for self-parking with an additional $20 service fee for valet parking. Official port cruise parking is just across the street from the cruise terminals and is an easy walk, even with luggage.
This article has full details on cheap cruise parking options from $5.97 per day near Tampa Bay Cruise Port.
When is the best time to cruise from Tampa?
The best months weather-wise for cruises from Tampa are November through April when the weather in the Caribbean is warm and sunny. From May through October, some cruise ships (mainly RCI and NCL) reposition for the summer, either to Alaska or the Mediterranean.
However, Carnival Cruises sail year-round from Tampa Bay Cruise Terminal. During this season you will find some cheap deals for cruises from Tampa, making this the best time to cruise at the lowest prices.