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Tampa Cruise Port & Nearby Activities

Tampa Cruise Port

Renowned for its culture-rich attractions, diverse entertainment districts and kid-friendly beaches, Tampa Bay is a sought-after destination among cruising clans. And with three cruise ship terminals situated near noteworthy attractions including the Florida Aquarium and the Amalie Arena, Port Tampa Bay has become an increasingly popular port of departure for Caribbean cruises. Nearby, in Channelside Bay Plaza, you'll find a variety of shops, restaurants and waterfront entertainment. If you have more than a couple hours to spare, play a round at the Pebble Creek Golf Club, get your adrenaline pumping at Busch Gardens or relax with a picnic or canoe ride along the river at the Lettuce Lake Regional Park, all of which are accessible by car. And if you're looking to get your culture fix, drive over to Ybor City district and the Museum of Science and Industry. Here are the essentials you need to know to decide how to spend your time in the Port Tampa Bay, and whether Tampa should be on your cruise itinerary.

What You Need to Know

  • There are three terminals Each of Port Tampa Bay's terminal facilities cater to specific cruise lines. Cruise Terminal 2 serves Carnival and is adjacent to the Channelside Bay Plaza and the Florida Aquarium. Cruise Terminal 3 serves Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International and is situated across from the parking garage and within walking distance of Channelside Bay Plaza. And Cruise Terminal 6 serves Holland America and is located north of the other terminals.
  • Invest in a CityPASS If you want to see all that Tampa has to offer without breaking the bank, invest in a Tampa Bay CityPASS. The pass gives you admission to five tourist attractions, saving you over $100. It costs $99 for adults and $89 for children, but keep in mind, single-day adult admission to Busch Gardens alone costs more than $100.
  • Visit the cultural attractions It's easy to devote most of your time ashore exploring family-friendly sights, but Tampa offers many cultural points of interest as well. Behold works by Salvador Dali at The Dali Museum and learn about how Tampa earned its reputation as the "Cigar Capital of the World" at the Ybor City Museum

How to Spend Your Time in Tampa

Things to Do Near Port Tampa Bay

  • The Florida Aquarium (<0.5 miles) This sprawling aquarium boasts an extensive collection of marine life,  including sharks, sting rays and sea turtles, and it's a major hit with kids, thanks to its "Explore A Shore" area, where younger visitors can splash around a 2-acre outdoor water zone and explore replica pirate ships.
  • Amalie Arena (<1 miles) Enjoy concerts, sport games, Cirque du Soleil and other performances at the Amalie Arena. Events can fill up quickly, so be sure to browse the calendar for up-to-date listings, and book your tickets in advance of your cruise.
  • Tampa Bay History Center (<1 miles) This Smithsonian Institution Affiliate features three floors of exhibits, showcasing 12,000 years of Florida's history and culture. Highlights include the cigar exhibit, Seminole artifacts and a map gallery.

Read On: Top Things to Do in Tampa

Popular Tours in Tampa

Have a few hours to spare in Tampa? Book a tour through your cruise line, explore the city on your own or check out tours available from independent outfitters.

  • Big Cat Rescue This 40-acre wildlife sanctuary is home to more than 100 animals, many of which are endangered. Holland America offers an excursion that allows cruisers to explore both Historic Tampa and the Big Cat Rescue. And if you would rather spend your time exclusively with the sanctuary's exotic cats, guided tours are available – book online or through an independent outfitter like Viator.
  • Tampa Electric's Manatee Viewing Center You'll find a butterfly garden, wildlife observation tower, boardwalk and mangrove exhibit at this free manatee viewing center. The center is about 15 miles south of Port Tampa Bay and best reached by car.
  • Lettuce Lake Regional Park This regional park offers something for all cruisers, including a boardwalk, observation tower, fishing pier, canoe and kayak rentals. The park also features an informative learning center with exhibits on animals and vegetation and a free guided nature tour along the scenic Hillsborough River. Drive 15 miles north of port to enjoy everything the park has to offer.
  • Busch Gardens Thrill seekers can't afford to miss out on Busch Gardens. The African-themed amusement park features a zoo, the county's tallest freestanding drop tower, a three-story play area of rope bridges and nets, live entertainment and more.
  • Museum of Science and Industry For fun indoors, the Museum of Science and Industry has more than 450 interactive exhibits on space, technology and robotics, including a planetarium. If you're planning on visiting the Florida Aquarium and the Lowry Park Zoo, consider buying a pass like the Viator Tampa Trio Pass that includes admission to all three attractions.

Restaurants near Port Tampa Bay

Tampa's culinary classics include authentic Cuban and Spanish dishes and seafood-focused specialties. Here are top recommended places to eat near Port Tampa Bay:

Transportation

Located about 10 miles southeast of the Tampa International Airport (TPA), Port Tampa Bay is within walking distance to the Channelside Bay Plaza, which features a mix of shops, restaurants and entertainment. Though buses run throughout Tampa, the most convenient way to get around is by car. A variety of reputable car rental agencies are available at the airport. If you're planning on driving from the airport, go to I-275 North and merge with I-4 East. Drive south on 21st Street and turn on Adamo Drive (Highway 60). A final left turn onto Channelside Drive leads you to Port Tampa Bay.

Parking

Port Tampa Bay has more than 3,000 parking spaces available to the public. Cruisers can choose between self-parking or valet parking. If you opt to park your own car, the price ranges from $60 for a four-day pass to $315 for a 21-day pass. The cruise parking garage is centrally located, nearby the three terminals and the Channelside Parking Garage.

Taxi

From the airport, you can take a taxi to each of the cruise-ship terminals for a flat rate of $25. Yellow Cab of Tampa and United Cab charge $2.50 for the first 1/8 mile and 30 cents for each additional 1/8 mile. And if you're looking to flag a taxi from port, you'll find taxis are abundant near each of the terminals.

Shuttle

The Florida Express Bus offers transportation from the airport to Port Tampa Bay for $15 a person.

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