Vision of the Seas moving to Tampa
Royal Caribbean adds Vision of the Seas to the Tampa Lineup
I know very little about Tampa except that I have some in-laws who live there, and so I visited them one time, but all I remember is being pretty close to Disneyworld.
I also recall hearing that Tampa has a pretty nice cruise terminal, rated as one of the best in the world by a certain writer working for a national news web site. But why was it rated so highly? Because the terminal was created to be an asset to the locals as well as to the cruise lines. It seems that one aspect of successful cruise terminals is making them multipurpose. The space needs to be an asset to the city year-round, not only good for the people coming in to catch a cruise ship; those who may or may not actually visit the city for any period of time.
The city knew the cruise terminal would need parking facilities for people to use during the cruise, but those people would not be recurring parkers. So, they needed to justify those parking facilities with other uses beyond the cruise terminal alone. Tampa did that by adding movie theaters and other attractive public spaces the regular city dwellers could also enjoy year round.
The investment is paying off. Even though the port is within hours of three other very busy cruise terminal; specifically Port Canaveral, Fort Lauderdale and Miami, the city is attracting a good number of ships, and another cruise line, Royal Caribbean, just announced it will be adding yet another cruise ship to the Tampa stable.
Royal Caribbean is adding its second cruise ship to sail from the city, Vision of the Seas, in the winter season of 2014-15. Vision will start to offer seven-night Western Caribbean cruises beginning November 15, 2014. It will sail every Saturday to the Western Caribbean, including Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Costa Maya, and either Roatan (Honduras) or Belize.
Vision will get to Tampa by offering a nine-night Southern Caribbean itinerary starting in Ft. Lauderdale with calls at Aruba, Curacao, Grand Cayman and Labadee, Royal Caribbean's private beach on the north coast of Haiti, scheduled to sail on November 6, 2014.
Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas will return to Tampa for its regular season of five, five and four-day cruises from Tampa starting Nov 9, 2013 and continuing through May 1, 2014. The cruises leave on Monday, Thursday and Saturday. The five-day cruise sails to Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico. The four-day cruise just sails to Cozumel, Mexico.
Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Paradise already sails year-round on a recurring five, five and four-day cruise sequence leaving on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Carnival Legend is also positioned there for the winter season sailing seven-day cruises to Grand Cayman; Cozumel, Belize City; and Roatan, Honduras. Legend is also sailing two special cruises, one on October 21, 2013 - a five-day cruise to Grand Cayman and Cozumel, then on October 26, 2013, an eight-day cruise to Grand Cayman; Costa Maya, Cozumel, Belize City and Roatan, Honduras.
Holland America's Ryndam will sail seven and 14-day cruises seasonally from Nov. 17, 2013 through March 30, 2014. The seven-day cruise leaves on Sundays for various Western Caribbean itineraries. You have to check the Holland America web site for more details.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line offers the Norwegian Dawn sailing on seven-day cruises from Nov 15, 2013 through Apr 20, 2014. These cruises leave on Sunday for Roatan, Honduras; Belize City, Belize; Costa Maya, Mexico and Cozumel, Mexico.
Getting to Tampa
Port Canaveral is famous for its proximity to many cities to the north, and has become popular as a "drive-to" port to reach a number of larger ships including Disney, Royal Caribbean and Carnival Dream. But Tampa is the same distance or even closer to many cities to the north.
I looked into flying into Tampa from the West Coast and I found it to be a bit less expensive than Ft. Lauderdale. But one HUGE advantage of flying into Tampa over Port Canaveral is that you can fly directly into Tampa while you have to fly into Orlando and then drive some 60 miles to reach Port Canaveral.
Perhaps some of the cruise lines believe that making cruisers fly into Orlando will persuade them to stop and spend some money there, but here in CruiseMates we find most people who want to cruise out of Port Canaveral plan to go straight to the port - not spend time in Orlando.
Maybe it is time for some cruise lines to consider relocating some of their ships sailing from Port Canaveral to sailing from Tampa?