The Port of Tampa broke the 1 million passenger threshold in its 2018 fiscal year and then smashed it further in 2019 with 1.1 passengers. A perfect storm of itinerary changes and redeployments will create a brief trough in 2020, said Greg Lovelace, senior director of business development, before 2021 finds the port shattering its own records again, projecting 1.3 million passengers.
Tampa records its fiscal years between Oct. 1 and Sept. 30.
“We are going into a bit of a dip in fiscal year 2020 but we’re going to come roaring back in fiscal year 2021,” Lovelace said.
That dip comes in part from Holland America Line moving the Rotterdam out of Tampa – bringing the passenger number down to roughly 800,000.
That roaring back, however, comes as Holland America returns, this time with the Veendam. They aren’t alone. Celebrity Cruises will sail the newly renovated Constellation on 10-and 11-night cruises out of Tampa starting in November 2020 for the winter season. At almost the same time the MSC Armonia will join Carnival Cruise Line in year-round sailings from the port. The Armonia will sail four- and five-night cruises in the winter and week-long voyages in the summer.
“The combination of those three lines coming in is what is going to put us on a trajectory to set a new record here in Tampa,” Lovelace said. “The message is there’s a very strong cruise business in Tampa and the future looks very bright. There’s something of a renaissance, as far as development in Tampa as a destination.”
Lovelace said the port is “right in the middle” of a $10 million facility upgrade, adding digital signage, escalators, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection improvements.
“We should be wrapping up the improvements at Terminal 2 in autumn,” he said. Work on Terminal 3 will begin in early summer.
“We make the improvements during the summer when it’s less busy and doesn’t impact the guests and our cruise line partners as much,” he said.
Across the street from the terminal, a $3.3 billion mixed-use commercial venture is under construction, adding shops, restaurants and office space.
“They’re really kind of changing the landscape of downtown Tampa, which is adjacent to our cruise terminal,” Lovelace said. “It’s really creating a new destination. It really adds to the Tampa Bay landscape.”