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 Florida’s largest seaport, Tampa has emerged as an important player in Caribbean and Latin American cruise itineraries. The port hosts cruise ships of Carnival, Celebrity, Holland America and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, which are attracted by the port’s inviting location within a vibrant downtown waterfront, its reputation for safety and convenience and the quality and variety of its on-shore entertainment opportunities. These qualities will assure the city’s future as a year-round cruise center. The Garrison Seaport Center's Cruise Terminal 2 has undergone an exciting, $6.5 million renovation that doubled its size and provided a five-lane passenger embarkation and disembarkation area, multideck parking garage, reconfigured customs and baggage handling facilities and many other state-of-the-art amenities designed to maximize passenger comfort, security and convenience.

And Tampa streetcars are back with a new line linking downtown with Ybor City and stopping at the Convention Center, Tampa Marriott Waterside, Channelside, Garrison Seaport Center, The Florida Aquarium and Ybor City’s Centennial Park. With these amenities, the Florida Aquarium is just steps from the cruise ships, as are Gulf beaches, Busch Gardens, major sporting facilities and the historic Ybor City entertainment district. All within 15 minutes of the port, Tampa is prepared to welcome cruise guests.

The Port of Tampa continues to plan for the future, with developments under way that will include the addition of three cruise terminals (including Cruise Terminal 3, already under construction), an expansion of the Aquarium and a major hotel. A waterfront riverwalk will allow pedestrians to walk from the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, past the Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa Convention Center and Ice Palace and down to Seaport Center, Channelside and the Aquarium. Sections are scheduled for completion in 2003. The cruise port is accessible from all parts of the world, with Tampa International Airport, recognized as one of the finest airports in the world, offering hundreds of scheduled flights each day and located just seven miles southeast of downtown.

LOCATION Florida’s third most populous city, located on Florida’s West Coast and convenient to the beaches and attractions of central Florida, Tampa is connected to St. Petersburg and Clearwater by a causeway and bridges. Orlando is just 84 miles to the east. Tampa enjoys a temperate, semi-tropical climate. LANGUAGE English. CURRENCY U.S. Dollar.

ATTRACTIONS AND ACTIVITIES Few seaports offer cruise passengers the variety that the Port of Tampa does. The Port offers easy access to the nightlife of Ybor City, now a designated National Historic Landmark district, and a lively mixture of historic buildings, art galleries, shops and nightclubs. A 230,000-square-foot urban entertainment center, Channelside opened on the downtown waterfront adjacent to the cruise terminal. The center includes a nine-screen cinema and 3-D IMAX theater, restaurants, shops and nightclubs in an open-air waterfront setting with a skyline terrace. Channelside's Ice Palace arena has become one of the hottest concert venues in the region.

One of The Florida Aquarium’s (813-273-4000) newest attractions is its DolphinQuest Eco-Tour, taken aboard a Caribbean Catamaran, which carries visitors to an island bird sanctuary established by the National Audubon Society. Adjacent to the Aquarium, the SS American Victory is a classic World War II-era Victory Ship class merchant ship that will soon become the American Victory Mariners Memorial & Museum Ship (813-228-8766). Slated to open by the end of 2002, the 54-year-old vessel will depict life aboard merchant ships during WWII and the Korean and Vietnam wars.

At Busch Gardens (813-987-5082) family adventure park, a new Rhino Rally off-road expedition blends animal encounters with an unpredictable safari competition through five habitats and ending with a raging river thrill ride. Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center (813-229-7827) in downtown, offers a 2003 performance season of Broadway shows, grand opera, cabaret theater, music, dance and special events.

Rafael Viñoly, internationally renowned architect, is designing the new Tampa Museum of Art (813-274-8130), scheduled for completion in 2005. The existing museum will remain open throughout construction, its 20th century and contemporary art and renowned collection of Greek and Roman antiquities a cultural experience not to be missed. MOSI Museum of Science & Industry (813-987-6100) is the largest science center in the Southeast and home of the first IMAX Dome Theater in Florida.

For further port information, contact the Tampa Port Authority, 1101 Channelside Drive, P.O. Box 2192, Tampa, FL 33602; phone 813-905-7678 or (US) 800-741-2297, fax 813-905-5109,,

For tour and travel information, contact the Tampa Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau, 400 North Tampa Street, Suite 2800, Tampa, FL 33602; phone 813- 223-1111, fax: 813-229-6616,

Photograph courtesy of the Tampa Port Authority.