A Guide to Tampa Cruise Port & Terminals 2024

Port of Tampa Guide

A Guide to Tampa Cruise Terminals

A Guide to Tampa Cruise Terminals

Posted by Stefan DP – Last Updated on December 04, 2023

Cruise ship in Tampa BayDefined by a blend of a cosmopolitan culture, ancient architecture, and retro vibes, Tampa has become one of the most exuberant cities in the world.

The unlimited sparks of life, natural wonders, and urban vibrance make the capital’s downtown a prolific spot to stay, work, and explore.

Considered a metropolitan oasis of Florida, the coastal city of Tampa presents a range of wondrous opportunities to fill your cruising itinerary.

Among the capital’s attraction spots are the exhibition sites showcasing the modern and historic artwork of Tampa, such as the Tampa Art Museum, not to mention the picturesque scenery of the many beaches neighboring Tampa Bay, where Tampa city is nestled.

At the helm of Florida’s economic engine is the city’s popular cruise port – The Port of Tampa, also known as Port Tampa Bay.

The port houses renowned cruise lines, including the Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Carnival, and Celebrity cruise lines. This makes Tampa the go-to destination for a cruise vacation.

In addition to its proximity to the capital’s international airport, Tampa is a gateway to the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, revitalizing your cruising activities and adventure.

Here is a quick guide to everything you need to know about Tampa Bay Cruise Port.

Read also: The Best Hotels near Tampa Port

Tampa Cruise Terminals

Bustling with a dynamic cruising business, Port Tampa Bay is considered to have the most convenient cruise terminals in Florida. The port serves 3 terminals serviced with ample parking and valet services. These terminals include Terminal 2, Terminal 3, and Terminal 6.

You can choose to park at Carpark, Tampa Bay’s official parking spot, or use an off-site park that comes with a free shuttle service for your movement to the terminals.

Additionally, each cruise terminal serves specified cruise lines to enhance efficiency and convenience.

1. Terminal 2

Terminal 2 houses ships from the Carnival Cruise Line. It is distinctively situated adjacent to the port’s Carpark garage, making the terminal an easy drop-off option. The terminal sits at 651 Channelside Drive towards the southern end of the port’s complex.

2. Terminal 3

Like Terminal 2, Port Tampa Bay’s Terminal 3 is located directly opposite the car park. Cruising ships from the Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines dock at this terminal. Its long berths make Terminal 3 an ideal spot for larger ships. The terminal sits at 815 Channelside Drive.

3. Terminal 6

Terminal 6 sits at 1333 McKay Street, making it the fastest access point from downtown. The terminal was initially used to dock ships from Holland America Cruise Line. With this cruise line exiting its operations from Port Tampa Bay, Terminal 3 houses ships from multiple cruise lines as scheduled.

Cruise ships docked in Port Tampa

Getting to Tampa Cruise Port

There are different ways to access the Tampa Port Cruise Terminals, depending on your means of transport. Here is a quick guide.

1. By Car

If you drive along Interstate 75 from the South, use I-75 North and head to Crosstown Expressway through Exit 50. Take the Adamo Drive by turning right through Exit 9. The Channelside Drive is on the left, connecting you to Port Tampa Bay terminals.

If driving along Interstate 4, use I-4 West and head to 21st Street through Exit 1. Take the Adamo Drive by turning right. The Channelside Drive is on the left, connecting you to Port Tampa Bay terminals.

If you drive from the airport or anywhere along I-275, follow the road to where it connects with I-4 East. Take Exit 1 along I-4 East to join 21st Street. Take the Adamo Drive by the right, then take a left to link up with the Channelside Drive.

Driving to Port of Tampa

2. By Air

Tampa Port is approximately 10 miles from the International Airport of Tampa. If you have no arrangements to drive yourself from the airport, shuttles are booked to facilitate direct transfers for specified cruise lines. Note that transfer shuttles are only available on the day your cruising line is docking out.

Alternatively, you can take an airport rideshare service or taxi readily available to drop travelers to the Port Tampa Bay Terminals. Typically, taxi services operate with a predetermined flat rate of $30. Commuting from the airport through Interstate-275 takes about 20 minutes.

Another option is taking a private door to door transfer. A private airport transfer takes you comfortably from the airport to your hotel/cruise port or vica verca. No hassle of waiting in a long line of taxis or shared shuttles. Your driver will wait for you at the agreed time.

3. By Public Transport

If you are looking to get to Tampa Cruise Port by public means, the TECO Line Streetcar system makes a reliable transit option. This free electric trolley runs through Ybor City from Tampa’s downtown to Channelside Drive, where Tampa Port is situated.

TECO Streetcar systems make a good choice for individuals who are conversant with the area. This is because users get to board the trolley from specific stations located across the route.

4. By Train

Amtrak’s trains are a major means of transport across Florida. The Amtrak station is situated half a mile from Cruise Terminal 6 and 1 mile from Tampa Port. You might need to plan your itinerary earlier as there is only one train that drops travelers to Tampa – the Silver Star Train.

Amtrak’s Auto Train is also reliable for movements to and from Washington DC or Sanford to Tampa Port.

5. Digital Taxis

Rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber are popular commuting services for many. These digital taxi services make a great choice for anyone moving from anywhere in Tampa City and beyond. The good thing with Uber and Lyft services is that prices are relatively lower, and rates are determined by the ridesharing companies and not the drivers.

Where ordinary taxis charge a flat rate of about 30$, Uber and Lyft may cost you about 75% of that price.

Port of Tampa Parking

Cruising from Tampa Port is quite a convenient and cost-effective experience, thanks to the port’s parking system. There are 3 parking options available, including;

1. Carpark

This is the official parking spot of Tampa Bay Cruise Port. The parking lot is adjacent to Terminal 6 and across Terminals 2 and 3. The Carpark is also serviced with valets that pick up and drop your car at your cruise line, relieving you of the unnecessary parking hassle.

It will cost you $15 to have your car at Carpark for 24 hours, with an additional valet fee of $20. However, the park offers a free service to people with disabilities.

Payments for car parking and valet services can be made before or on your cruising day. Tampa Port features a payment function on its website (tampaport.com) to facilitate pre-payments. With an advance payment, your parking slot is booked, and a valet is allocated to your car.

2. Outdoor Parks

Outdoor parks are independent slots owned and run by private companies. The parking lots are located along Channelside Drive, within Tampa Bay’s terminals. Most travelers prefer outdoor parking slots for their low rates and proximity to the terminals. The cost of parking with these independent lots is approximately $7, which is half the price of Carpark.

They also offer shuttle services for clients who do not want to walk for those short distances.

3. Hotel Parking Lots

To attract more customers, hotels around Tampa Port offer free parking spaces in exchange for their services, including staycations and night stays. All you need is to book a room and have a parking slot set apart for you.

As a way of beating the competition, some hotels extend their services with a free ride to the port. Therefore, you can leave your car in the hotel’s parking lot while you cruise your way to adventure.

Best Time to Visit and Cruise from the Port of Tampa?

Downtown Tampa

Tampa experiences heavy rainfall over the summer, with the rains peaking from June through September. During this period, the region may suffer storms and humid atmospheres, making it a bit difficult to cruise. Temperatures also tend to run quite high, topping to ranges above 86°F (30°C).

Usually, the atmospheric conditions over summer cause a shift of cruise activities from Tampa Bay to other more conducive regions, such as Alaska and the Northeast cruising bays.

The winter season, running from November through March, makes the best cruising time. Over this season, the temperatures are relatively friendly for cruising, with a typical daily range of 70°F (21°C) and 79°F (26°C). Due to the season’s convenience, the November-March season has become Tampa’s peak cruise times.

Where to Stay Near the Port?

Downtown Tampa by night

The best places to stay during your cruise vacation in Tampa include around the downtown area, Ybor City, and Channel Side. Hotels and houses around these neighborhoods are suited for all budgets. From luxurious 5-star hotels to multiple lodging options, there is a perfect residing spot for everyone.

Here are some ideal places to consider for your stay near Port Tampa Bay.

Hampton Inn & Suites Tampa – Ybor City

Hampton Inn & Suites Tampa – Ybor City is tucked in Ybor City, one of the most vibrant neighborhoods near Port Tampa Bay. The hotel is situated near the International Airport of Tampa, within a close range of popular attraction sites, such as ZooTampa and the Florida Aquarium.

In addition to residential amenities and services, Hampton Inn provides you with a free cruise shuttle service to the port. You also get to enjoy free parking for 7 days.

Hilton Garden Inn Tampa – Ybor District

Located a few meters from Tampa Port, the Hilton Garden Inn/Ybor District is a top 3-star hotel in the region. The hotel offers you an exclusive shuttle service for destinations within a radius of 3 miles. That makes it a great option, considering the Tampa Port is within that radius. Additionally, Hilton Garden Inn features an onsite restaurant for all your cooked-to-order meals.

Residence Inn by Marriott in Tampa Downtown

Residence Inn by Marriott sits on an easy-to-access property right at Tampa Downtown. The hotel is within walking distance from attraction sites, beaches, and the Tampa Port. It is also one of the few ideal hotels based within a 6-mile radius of the International Airport of Tampa.

Staying in Residence Inn by Marriott means enjoying a good rest and being a jump away from Florida’s major highlights, including the Florida State Fairgrounds, Florida Aquarium, and Tampa Theatre.

Hotel Tampa Riverwalk

Situated along the famous Tampa Riverwalk, Hotel Tampa Riverwalk has become the go-to option for business tourists and cruising vacationers. Port Tampa Bay is an 18-minute walk from Hotel Tampa Riverwalk. You also get a glimpse of attraction sites from your room, including ZooTampa, Busch Gardens, and the Florida Aquarium.

Hotel Tampa Riverwalk also provides valet parking at a fee and a shuttle service for free. However, the shuttle is only available for destinations within a 3-mile radius. Visitors with a self-drive preference are well taken care of through the hotel’s car hire service.

Sights to See and Things to Do

Tampa Port and its neighborhoods are packed with historic architecture, art, commerce, and entertainment. Regardless of your taste and preference, there is something worth your exploration.

Here is a run-through of some of the top sights and things to do in Tampa.

1. Tampa Riverwalk and Ybor City

Tampa RiverwalkTampa Riverwalk is a 2.4-mile walkway buzzing with life and exciting activities. The pedestrian trail is a popular spot for early-morning joggers and fitness enthusiasts. During the day, the Tampa Riverwalk is a highlight for restaurants, museums, and parks. At night, the walkway becomes a musical hub for a thrilling romantic encounter.

Tampa Riverwalk extends to Ybor City, an ancient district celebrated for preserving Florida’s culture and history. The city has a lot to offer, including nightlife, shopping, museums, and galleries.

2. Florida Aquarium

The Florida Aquarium is a state sensation, housing thousands of wildlife, including plants and animals. Join a tour to view endless species of eels, fish, and sharks. You can also jump on a shipwreck diving trip or spend time with dolphins and penguins backstage. The satisfying terrestrial life and aquatic ecosystems showcased in the Florida Aquarium will fill your exploration with fun and thrill.

3. Henry B Plant Museum

Formerly Tampa Bay Hotel, a visit to the Henry B Plant Museum will bring you close to palatial furnishings, Moorish architecture, and the allure that made Florida a site to behold for ancient vacationers.

The majestic structure of Henry B Plant Museum hosts guest rooms, a flower shop, and an exhibition of Victorian splendor in the form of furnishings and artwork.

4. Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens is a one-stop site for exhibitions, amusement park experiences, animal encounters, and live show performances. The legendary attractions and diverse entertainment activities make Busch Gardens the ultimate choice for family fun. From the fastest amusement ride and train rides to witnessing traditional beats and icon performances, there is so much that you can do in Busch Gardens.

5. St Petersburg

Topping Florida’s most celebrated features is St. Petersburg, a scenic city established on the state’s Gulf Coast.

St. Petersburg is home to some of the best beaches in Florida, not to mention the amusement of the city’s water-based activities, including swimming, diving, and beach strolling.

Alongside restaurants, bars, shopping centers, and historic attractions, St. Petersburg has become a global getaway for many.

6. Clearwater Beach

With excellent water and atmospheric conditions, Clearwater Beach on Florida’s Gulf Coast provides a perfect patch for family vacations.

The beach dazzles with warm sunrays, white sand beaches, and the clear waters from the Gulf Coast. Clearwater Beach is repeatedly ranked as one of the best beaches in Florida.

Clearwater Beach is approx. 30 to 45 minutes drive from the Port of Tampa and the downtown area.


(Latest update December 04th 2023)
Please contact us if any information is incorrect or not up-to-date.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we earn a small commission if you click through and make a reservation.

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