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Navigating the Tampa Cruise Port: Getting There, Parking and Terminals

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Florida is far and away the busiest point of departure in the United States for cruising. And while images of Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or Cape Canaveral might come to mind when you think of Florida cruising, Tampa is one of the state’s cruising gems.

Located on the eastern coast, Tampa serves as a convenient gateway to the western Caribbean and Mexico. No surprise, the port and its popularity has grown in recent years. Today, you’ll find a busy, yet still navigable port of departure. And with our guide to the Port of Tampa, getting to your ship will be a breeze.

Getting Acquainted with the Port of Tampa

The port is located near downtown Tampa in an area known as the Channelside District. If you are flying into Tampa, it’s roughly 10 miles from the airport, near a number of attractions like the Florida Aquarium, a U.S. Victory Ship, and a short drive from the famous Ybor City:

The Port of Tampa has three cruise terminals: #6, #3, and #2. Terminal #2 serves Carnival. Terminal #3 serves Royal Caribbean and Norwegian. Terminal #6 serves AIDA and Holland America. All of the terminals are within walking distance of each other, however, Terminal #6 is a little further north than the rest of the cruise terminals:

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Tampa Cruise Terminal #2

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As we mentioned above, this terminal serves Carnival Cruise Lines. The actual terminal is at the southern end of Channelside Drive. If you drive down Channelside, you will run right into the port. If you have luggage and passengers, you can drive right up to the port to drop them off. This makes it convenient for passengers who may have mobility issues.

The closest parking to this terminal is the garage located just north of the terminal. While it is convenient, it is also the most expensive option ($15 per day). If you drive just a little further north on Channelside, there are a number of other options that offer cheaper parking for half the cost (and a free shuttle to the terminal).

Tampa Cruise Terminal #3

tampa cruise terminal 3Cruise Terminal #3 is the home to Norwegian and Royal Caribbean ships. It is a stone’s throw from the #2 terminal, with the Florida Aquarium between the two. The #3 terminal is unmistakable thanks to the large signage and glass facade.

Again, the closest parking to this terminal is in the official Port of Tampa garage, which is directly across the street. That said, there are other very close lots that offer parking at a considerable discount.

Tampa Cruise Terminal #6

tampa cruise terminal 6Finally, if you are sailing AIDA or Holland America, then you will sail from Terminal #6. This dock is a bit further north than the other cruise ships. That actually makes it a little less hectic on sailing day. You won’t have to deal with as many people or as much traffic.

Best of all, Terminal #6 offers parking right adjacent to the ship. While this it outdoor and uncovered, it is the closest you can get to parking at your ship in Tampa.