Tampa Cruise Port
Tampa is maybe the most upbeat, forward-thinking city you don't know about. In a list of "Best Outdoor Cities in America" by Forbes Magazine, Tampa ranked 5th and recieved honors as the "Top City for Twenty Somethings" by the Washington Square News. Along with neighboring St. Petersburg (nicknamed "The Sunshine City" due to its average of 360 days of sunshine a year), this is an area on the rise.
Cigar City, as Tampa is known, lies on the west central coast of Florida. It is a very popular cruise port, especially with tourists embarking on Western Caribbean itineraries. Port of Tampa has regular departures 3 to 4 times a week from major cruise lines such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, and Norwegian Cruise Lines.↑ Back to Top
Where is the cruise port in Tampa?
Ships dock at the Port of Tampa Cruise Terminal, six to eight minutes from downtown and only 20 minutes from the Tampa International Airport (see map.)↑ Back to Top
What language is spoken at this cruise port? Do they speak English?
English is the official language, but because of the high population of Latin American immigrants, Spanish is widely spoken.↑ Back to Top
What is the time zone in Tampa?
Tampa, Florida, USA is on Eastern Standard Time (-5 GMT).
Current Time - Tampa, FL, USA↑ Back to Top
What is the national currency?
The US Dollar (USD).
Where can I get or exchange money?
If you are exchanging international currency, such as Euros or Canadian Dollars, Tampa International Airport, the Florida Currency Exchange (located at only 5 miles from the port) and some downtown hotels are the most accessible locations to do so.
- Banks closest to Tampa cruise port:
There are many banks within a couple of miles of the Port of Tampa, below are a few:
- Bank of America, only a mile away from the port at 101 East Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa, FL (see map).
- M&I Bank, is less than a mile away at 501 E. Kennedy Blvd., Ste. 175, Tampa, FL (see map).
- Bank of Tampa, about a mile away from the port at 202 North Franklin Street, Tampa, FL (see map)
- More banks can be found within a couple of miles going west on East Kennedy Dr. before the bridge.
- ATMs closest to Tampa cruise port:
There are many ATMs and located throughout the city and in the cruise terminal.
How can I stay in touch with home? (Ex. Email, phone, etc.)
Most cell phone plans in the US now offer free nationwide roaming. Contact your cell phone provider for information regarding roaming rates. Also, public phones are available throughout the city. If US is not home, you can purchase calling cards at most any gas station or convenience store to make international calls affordably.
Where are the Internet cafes?
Free WiFi is available at all Starbucks and most McDonald’s locations in the area. There are also several Internet cafes located in Tampa in case you did not bring your own computer. Below are a few locations in the area:
- Moxie's Cafe is a popular destination for locals and tourists looking for the best espresso and coffee. Think of an authentic, family owned coffee shop where you can enjoy the ambiance and surf the web.
- At International Bobba House you can relax on sofas as you contemplate what to order form their more than 50 smoothies, 18 coffee roasts, and 14 "well-being" drinks. If you get tired of surfing the web you can play X-Box for a while or check out their local art while you unwind.
- Sips News Cafe is what Starbucks has tried to be for so long. Sit down and read the news as you enjoy their complementary WiFi with their handcrafted coffee blends.
What are the cell phone rates?
Most cell phone plans in the US now offer free nationwide roaming. Contact your cell phone provider for information regarding roaming rates.↑ Back to Top
Tampa has a humid subtropical climate with warm, rainy summers and dry, moderate winters. If you are traveling to Tampa in the summer expect some rain since 2/3 of the annual precipitation occurs between June and September. The average range is between 65°F and 95°F with freezing temperatures occurring every two to three years.
Average Monthly Temperatures and Rainfall in Tampa↑ Back to Top
Walking is perfect for exploring specific areas in Tampa, but it's not a adequate means of transportation around the city as a whole. Bayshore Boulevard has miles of continuous, pedestrian friendly trails overlooking Tampa Bay and the downtown skyline (no wonder some of the most extravagant mansions are built on this strip). Another great destination for walking is Downtown Tampa. Amongst the skyscrapers are small, curious restaurants perfect for people-watching and boutique stores well worth a visit.
Taxis in Tampa need to be called for a pickup unless you are at the airport or downtown. Taxis are metered and are priced as you would expect in any large metropolis.
Florida is known for having poor public transportation, but over the years Tampa has been improving their bus and trolley systems. The HARTline bus system travels throughout Tampa with three main stations in Downtown, Britton Plaza, and University Mall. There is also a trolley system that makes it easier to navigate touristy locations such as the Downtown, SOHO, and Hyde Park Districts, as well as, Ybor City. Tickets are available on-board, but you must have the exact fare.
All major car rental companies, such as AVIS and BUDGET have many conveniently located offices near the airport. Most offer shuttle services to and from their location and Tampa International Airport. Reserve your rental online for best rates and to ensure that you have a rental car waiting for you when you arrive.↑ Back to Top
What is the best way to travel between the Port of Tampa and Tampa International Airport (TPA)?
The Tampa Bay Shuttle will only charge $11 to the port and it includes three pieces of luggage. You can also check their schedule for port to airport service and guarantee safe, inexpensive transportation. Taxis are another viable option at a flat rate of $25 from Tampa International Airport (TPA) to Port of Tampa.
Which hotels are convenient to get to/from the Tampa cruise port?
There are several hotels in the Downtown Tampa and Tampa International Airport areas that are more than adequate for one, two or several nights stay before and after your cruise. Below are a few different options depending on your needs:
Stay close to the action in downtown in the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina. This is one of the most luxurious hotels in Tampa with three restaurants, a marina, a relaxing pool and proximity to all the major attractions in the bay area. Expect to pay $10 for off-site parking or $20 for valet parking per day.
- If you are flying to Tampa for your cruise:
The Crowne Plaza Tampa Westshore offers a "Bon Voyage Tampa" Package for guests going on a cruise. The package includes spacious rooms, airport shuttle services, transportation to and from the port, and parking at a moderate per night rate. This type of hotel package will allow you to avoid the hassle of driving in an unknown city during your vacation and costly shuttle or taxi services.
- If you are driving to Tampa for your cruise:
The Hampton Inn Tampa Airport offers a similar package with complimentary transportation from the hotel to the port, parking for up to 14 days, Internet access and breakfast.
For an extended list of hotels in the area offering pre-cruise packages click here.
Deviled crabs are the croquettes of Tampa. They are breaded, crab meat that is rolled into a cylinder-like shape and fried to perfection. Locals often eat deviled crabs with hot sauce to add extra zest.
Where are the best places to get them?
- Brocato's Sandwich Shop is a hole-in-the-wall, local gem for Cuban cuisine with a Tampa twist. Their sandwiches are enormous and their deviled crabs have made Brocato's Sandwich Shop a landmark in Tampa. Check out what all the fuss is about it.
- La Terasita has been a staple in Tampa for decades and continues to delight customers today. This Cuban restaurant has delicious daily specials in addition to their renowned bakery, which makes it well worth a stop.
What are the must-drinks in Tampa?
A cafecito Cubano (espresso Cuban coffee) is a must in the morning and after a nice meal.
Where is the best place to get one?
- For a cafecito Cubano you can go to pretty much any Cuban cafeteria around town - and there are plenty of them. Have one after a good meal at Brocatos or La Terasita.
- Tampa has several small breweries with hundreds of different beers just waiting to be tasted. Try one of the several local offerings, such as from the Cigar City Brewery at one of the several World of Beer locations in Tampa. Ask the bartender for a suggestion and thank them later.
Which are the best souvenirs to buy in Tampa? Where can I get them?
Gasparilla Pirate Festival beads make a nice souvenir of your visit to Tampa. These beads work much like the beads in New Orleans' Mardi Gras. The Gasparilla Pirate Festival is a yearly festival unique to Tampa celebrated in January. A few weeks later, Ybor City hosts a more risque version of the festival with the Sant'Yago Knight Parade (AKA: Gasparilla Knight Parade), which runs all night and gives "magical" powers to those beads.
A painted ostrich egg from Xcursions in Busch Gardens, as a gift or to place on your mantle, is a wonderful reminder of your trip to Tampa.
A box of cigars from Ybor City's own Tampa Sweethearts Cigar Company is a very Tampa-appropriate gift considering Tampa's long cigar production history. Along with their ample selection of premium cigars, proprietor Arturo Fuente, Jr. sells the full line of Fuente cigars made from the finest Dominican tabacco leaves.↑ Back to Top
What are the top attractions and must-sees in Tampa? How long will it take me to get there and to explore?
Busch Gardens is one of the 20 most visited theme parks in the U.S because of its beautiful African themed landscape, eight roller coaster rides, three water rides, and endless animal exhibits. The famous Montu was the highest ranked roller coaster for several years in the U.S and although its lost it's place in the rankings, it won't disappoint adrenaline junkies.
- The Big Cat Rescue will give you an authentic taste of Africa without spending thousands of dollars on plane tickets and accommodations. Tampa proudly houses the world's largest accredited big cat rescue facility with notable tigers, lions, and cougars. Expect to get a lot closer to nature than in a regular zoo and don't be surprised by the beauty of the landscape or the singing of the exotic birds.
- Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo, rated the #1 zoo in America by Parents Magazine, is yet another great place in Tampa to see exotic animals. This zoo features the largest collection of Florida native species in the country, including the Florida Panther, American Alligator and Crocodile, Key Deer and many others.
Below are some of the best and most famous beaches near Tampa:
- Clearwater Beach, located 25 miles west of the port (see map), is often considered one of the best beaches in the United States. Offering white sands, clear waters and some of the best sunsets on the gulf coast, Clearwater Beach is great for families and quite a romantic setting for couples.
- Caladesi Island State Park, located 30 miles northwest of the port (see map), ranks amongst Americans top Beaches year after year. Unless you own a boat, the park's ferry service is the only way to get there so prepare accordingly. The island has the best of both worlds, modern bathroom facilities and picnic areas and nearly four miles of untouched, virgin beaches. For the outdoorsy type, activities such as swimming, fishing, boating, birding, hiking or kayaking through the mangroves will make it well worth the ferry ride.
- Fort DeSoto Park's three miles of beach, located 35 miles southwest of the port (see map), was awarded the best beach in America in 2005. Not impressed? The park also has a historic fort that is open to self-guided tours and it houses a cute dog park with beach access. Add hiking and biking trail plus two fishing piers and you have one of the best, all-round beaches in Florida.
- If you're looking for upscale shopping (Nordstrom, Nieman Marcus, Dillard's, etc.) then International Plaza and Bay Street is the place to go. Conveniently located near the airport, this mall has over 200 shops and an outdoor area with dozens of restaurants, coffee shops, and bars. The area changes atmosphere at night and it becomes hip and lively.
- For a unique shopping experience with art galleries and boutiques head to Hyde Park Village. This area is known for fine, outdoor dining and the Sunrise Cinemas that play foreign/independent films.
- To top off a true Tampa shopping experience, you should visit Ybor City. You will surely be impressed by the funky, corner shops and the cigar aficionado stores that decorate the city. The area is also known for one-of-a-kind clothing and accessory stores like La France and Metropolitan Deluxe in addition to their International Bazaar.
Tampa has several good golf courses in the area, below are a few of them:
- The The Pine Barrens Course at World Woods, located about an hour north of the port area (see map), has been ranked by both Golf Magazine and Golf Digest on their 100 best courses in America. Deemed some of Tom Fazio's best work, the 4th and 15th holes are two of the best strategic holes built in the last 60 years. Expect an expansive pine forest with surprising and dramatic change in elevation. Tee times can be made online or by phone at (352)796-5500.
- The Innisbrook Resort Property, located 30 miles northwest of the port area (see map), has a Westin Hotel on the premises and five golf courses to enjoy. The most famed of the five courses is the Copperhead Course, which houses the PGA Tour's Chrysler Championship. In addition to its elevation changes and tree-lined fairway, the course is muscular and open, playing 7,200 yards from the back tees. Contact Innisbrook at (727)942-2000 for more information and tee times.
Below are a few Scuba diving companies that operate out of Tampa:
- Diving Tampa offers a variety of tours that will satisfy amateurs as well as pros. You can choose to snorkel with manatees or dive into King Spring: home to manatees, large tarpon, blue crabs, large catfish, and hundreds of mangrove snapper that gather around the entrance. The Blue Grotto tour is for open water Level 1 divers that want to experience a magnificent cave dive at a depth of 100 feet.
- Tanks-A-Lot Scuba Diving offers reef, ledge, and wreck diving as well as night diving trips.
- EZ Scuba offers daily classes and spearfishing trips every Friday. For more information contact them at (813) 887-5712.
- The second you step into Ybor City you will be able to recognize its historic value. Let Ybor Walking Tours guide you through the best spots in the city and explain the importance of everything in this exquisite district. The tours are only 90 minutes, so it you will have plenty of time to explore these Floridian brick streets for yourself.
- The Urban Kai Stand-Up Paddle boarding tour allows you to exercise, explore, and go sightseeing at the same time. Standing up is a lot easier than it looks and within 20 minutes you'll be relaxing in the bay area in style. Don't fall for conventional tours and try something different, something new, something Tampa.
West Coast & Gulf Cruise Ports:
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