The Channel District Vision plan is going to revitalize 45 port-owned acres in Tampa, to the tune of $1.5 billion over the next decade.
“It is also looking at redesigning the cruise terminals and creating more green space for visitors and cruise passengers. We want to have people come down closer to the waterfront,” said Greg Lovelace, director of marketing and business development, cargo and cruise.
In addition, local business interests have announced another $2 billion in development near the port.
“If you start looking at those together, it’s really going to transform the entire downtown landscape of Tampa,” Lovelace noted. “We think it’s going to increase the appeal of Tampa as a cruise destination. It will be a win-win not only for our city, but our business and the cruise lines.”
Fiscal year 2016 will see a small drop in passengers, mainly attributed to a Carnival Cruise Line ship being re-deployed to Australia. 2017 is trending higher as Carnival adds back some calls. Seasonal homeporting customers continue to include Norwegian, Holland America and a pair of Royal Caribbean vessels.
"Our biggest opportunity for growth is to get another year-round ship back in,” said Lovelace. This year, Carnival will sail the Paradise year-round from Tampa, on a five-five-four day cruise schedule. Destinations include Cozumel and Grand Cayman.
With a busy schedule during the winter, Lovelace noted berth availability on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Coming into the 2015-2016 winter season, Port Tampa Bay completed a number of terminal improvements at the request of the cruise lines.
These included new counter spaces, and re-working some of the passenger flow, along with fresh paint and décor.
“It makes it more efficient for their operations,” said Lovelace. “We spent quite a bit of money doing that.”