Port Tampa Bay set a new record for cruise ship passengers in 2018. Container cargo traffic was also up last year.
In its annual State of the Port report, Port Tampa Bay says more than a million cruise passengers set sail from Tampa for the first time. The port is spending $10 million to upgrade its passenger terminals. While the number of passengers is up, Holland America Line announced earlier this year it was leaving Tampa, but the company says it might drop anchor again in the future.
"Not only did Port Tampa Bay experience its second consecutive record revenue year, but we began to see a convergence of several initiatives including major infrastructure projects, real estate agreements, and new cargos," port president and CEO Paul Anderson said in the annual report.
Container cargo increased 55% in 2018, thanks in large part to increased shipments from Mexican ports. The port said companies that used trucks and trains to carry their goods from Mexico are turning to ships instead. The port is also handling more fruit juice, thanks to a tanker called the Juice Express that sails from Costa Rica.
In the future, the port will see more cargo from China and Singapore with new direct routes from Asia which began this year.