TAMPA, FL – It’s the season for cruisin’ — on cruise ships, that is, as Port Tampa Bay can attest. The port smashed previous records for passenger traffic last weekend when it welcomed six cruise ships for the first time.
Thanks to improvements at Terminal 6 allowing the port to accommodate more passengers, the port greeted three ships on Saturday, March 31, and another three on Sunday, April 1.
A record 29,167 passengers embarked and disembarked cruise ships at Port Tampa. The highest previous count was the weekend of Feb. 17-18 with 22,960 passengers.
For the week of March 25 to April 1, the port accommodated 50,256 passengers, including passengers returning on the newly refurbished Carnival Paradise.
“We never compiled a weekly passenger count before but we feel certain this is the highest passenger number ever for one week because of the Carnival Paradise back in the mix,” said port spokeswoman Samara Sodos.
The 2,052-passenger Carnival Paradise received a comprehensive makeover a month ago.
The highlight was the addition of the WaterWorks Aqua Park located on Verandah Deck. It features an enclosed 300-foot-long Twister water slide, two 82-foot-long racing slides and a kids’ splash zone. The ship relocated its nine-hole miniature golf course to deck 14.
The cruise ship also has new shops and restaurants including Guy’s Burger Joint, developed in partnership with Food Network star Guy Fieri. Other poolside bars and eateries include the RedFrog Rum Bar, ThirstyFrog Red, the BlueIguana Cantina, which specializes in Mexican cuisine, and the BlueIguana Tequila Bar.
The ship also has 38 new staterooms — two Grand Vista suites offering floor-to-ceiling windows, 22 junior suites, two scenic ocean view and 12 interior accommodations. Carnival added private verandas to 98 existing accommodations, creating new 230-square-foot balcony staterooms. All staterooms offer redecorated island-inspired interiors.
For a final touch, retail shops were enhanced with boutiques such as Pandora and Guess.
In addition to Carnival Paradise, Port Tampa Bay also welcomed the cruise ships Carnival Miracle, Royal Caribbean Brilliance, Norwegian Cruise Dawn, Holland America Rotterdam and Royal Caribbean Rhapsody over the weekend.
Images via Port Tampa Bay