Port Tampa Bay’s (cruise) ship has come in.
The port, for years known more for bulk cargo than cruise passengers, surpassed a milestone in mid-September, with the 1 million passenger mark for the first time in one fiscal year. Fiscal 2018 had seen 1,000,524 cruise ship passengers come through the port through Sept. 17, according to a statement.
Port Tampa Bay posted several other major accomplishments during the past 12 months. For one, it set an all-time high for passenger traffic in one weekend — March 31-April 1 — when 29,167 cruisers were in and out of the port during the Easter weekend, according to a statement. The previous high-water mark for one weekend was earlier in the year, Feb. 17-18, when 22,960 passengers passed through the port.
Outside passenger counts, the port has added to its capacity. Carnival Cruise Line, for example, added 20 more cruises to Cuba; completed a makeover of the Carnival Paradise; and doubled the Carnival's capacity in Tampa with the addition of the Carnival Miracle's only year-long program with seven-day cruises from the port. Also, according to a statement, Royal Caribbean put a larger ship in rotation, the Majesty of the Seas, with cruises to Cuba to accommodate a strong customer demand in Tampa.
The port, of course, has a long way to go to catch Florida’s big three in cruise ship passenger traffic: the Port of Miami, Port Canaveral and Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. Those ports regularly surpass 4 million passengers a year, with Miami hovering around 5 million people.