Port Tampa Bay welcomed their one millionth passenger last week, setting a new record for the port.
On September 17th, Port Tampa Bay recorded that approximately 1,000,524 passengers had gone through the port.
The fiscal year wraps up at the end of this month and they expect to hit 1,044,000 passengers. This number is a nine percent increase from 2017, which had about 960,000 passengers the entire year.
“One million passengers is definitely a big deal for Port Tampa Bay and it’s just motivating us to continue to improve on what we do and work with our partners, the cruise lines and the community, to grow this business and to really develop it,” said Port Tampa Bay vice president Wade Elliott.
The port’s cruise line partners include Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Holland America Line, and Norwegian Cruise Line.
There have been new expansions and investments made in order to keep up with the demand.
“The ships are getting larger so we need to have the capacity to be able to accommodate larger ships," said Elliott. "We are also making improvements in the other cruise terminals in the coming year to not only enhance the guest experience, but also to make sure they stay compliant with customs and border protection requirements.”
With technology constantly improving, bigger cruise ships are being built.
Over the last few years there has been discussion over whether or not the Sunshine Skyway should be raised, or completely rebuilt, to adjust to the bigger cruise ships.
Some have expressed concern on how this could affect Port Tampa Bay, but Elliott is confident that it won’t pose an issue.
“The good news is there’s still plenty of ships out there that can fit in Tampa. We also see continued growth as the itineraries expand now. For example, in the last couple of years Carnival and Royal Caribbean have added a Havana Port Call, so that’s helped create great interest," he said.
"If you think about opportunities to convert some of our seasonal cruise ships to year round itineraries, and also to just increase the frequency of cruises, there’s a lot of good growth potential even within the current size constraints we have.”
Elliott said there is still a big market for cruises and believes Port Tampa Bay will be able to reach the one million passenger mark once again in 2019.