Cruises Sail Back to Tampa Bay after 18-Month Hiatus
Port Tampa Bay and Royal Caribbean International celebrated the first cruise vessel departure from Tampa Bay since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a no-sail order about 18 months ago.
Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas docked at Cruise Terminal 6 Saturday morning for its maiden voyage to CocoCay in the Bahamas.
It’s the first cruise ship to sail out of Port Tampa Bay since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a no-sail order more than a year and a half ago.
Passengers with luggage in hand arrived and went through COVID-19 testing before going onboard.
Cruises usually make up about a fifth of the port’s revenues, which dropped by $7.5 million since the March 2020 shutdown compared to 2019. Travelers and crew members for a 3,000-passenger ship spend an average of $334,000 in a port city, according to estimates from Business Research & Economic Advisor, a market analyst firm.
While the return of cruises is expected to bring in tourists spending money in Tampa Bay, the ships won’t be completely filled yet.
The Serenade of the Seas is set at 50 percent capacity, with about 1,000 or more passengers on board plus 800 crew members, all who are required to be vaccinated unless under the age of 12.
With cruises restarting, port officials said Saturday Tampa is set to add more destinations than it had before the pandemic, including the Dominican Republic, the Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia.
In addition to the Royal Caribbean ship, several cruise lines are returning to Port Tampa Bay this year such as Celebrity and Carnival, scheduled to start sailing in November, and Norwegian, sailing in December.
Source: Tampa Bay Times