Port Tampa Bay officials welcomed the AIDAvita into port on Wednesday, one of six port calls that AIDA Cruises will make in Tampa this busy 2014-2015 cruise season. AIDAvita, its captain and crew, were presented with a plaque and gift from port executives, a commendation from the Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners, and an official welcoming from tourism officials during an on board ceremony to celebrate the cruise line’s first-ever visit to Tampa Bay.

AIDAvita in Tampa

The ship’s first call to Port Tampa Bay represents a departure from typical port calls into Tampa, as AIDA Cruises has added Tampa Bay as a unique experience for their guests—largely German tourists. This move adds to the cruise line’s itinerary diversification, as well as that of Port Tampa Bay as a thriving cruise port.

Wednesday’s arrival of the German cruise ship represents AIDA Cruises’ new Caribbean butterfly route, providing customers with unique new cruise experiences and destinations, the AIDAvita has begun sailing the first of six Western Caribbean cruises with calls to Tampa. AIDA Cruises’ entry into the Tampa market means that Port Tampa Bay now enjoys cruise passenger activity from five of the world’s most popular cruise lines.

The AIDA Cruises port calls will expose German tourists to bay area attractions such as The Florida Aquarium, Busch Gardens and Tampa Bay’s world famous beaches. The cruise line is “the embodiment of casual cruising.”

 “AIDA Cruises’ initial port call at Port Tampa Bay is a milestone for us, not only at the port, but for all of our tourism and economic development partners in the region,” Paul Anderson, port president and CEO, said. “We are thrilled to welcome AIDA Cruises to Tampa Bay, and we know this will be the beginning of a rewarding relationship with this fine cruise line that has recognized our distinct market and has decided to be a part of the growth we are experiencing in the region,” Anderson said.

Upon its departure from Port Tampa Bay, the port authority provided a fireworks display in the early evening to celebrate the ship’s first port call and subsequent sailings.