Margaritaville at Sea cruise expected to help set records at Port Tampa Bay

The Margaritaville at Sea cruise ship is finally setting sail out of its new home at Port Tampa Bay.

The newest addition to the port is paving the way for more record-setting business.

"From October through September, we're going to hit just shy of 1.2 million passengers this year," Wade Elliot, Port Tampa Bay’s Senior Vice President of Marketing and Development said.

Elliott says the Margaritaville at Sea, which will sail year-round, is expected to help the port reach a record 1.5 million passengers next year.

"You’re talking about $360,000 per port call," Elliott said. "And if you think about that ship sailing year round, she's going to be here over 75 times over the course of the year."

Elliott says Port Tampa Bay is the largest port in the state.

He says the addition of the Margaritaville at Sea will help keep Tampa Bay on the fast track for economic growth at sea and on land.

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"Not just downtown and Water Street and Ybor, but throughout, you know, the hospitality industry, from hotels, to taxis, to restaurants, nightclubs, the parks, the beaches," he said.

Elliott says Port Tampa Bay is multi-faceted, which sets it apart from other ports in the state.

He says Port Tampa Bay is a hub for the cargo industry, facilitating imports and exports of a variety of different goods.

"Over 35 million tons of cargo move through this port every year," Elliott said. "And that includes everything from construction and building materials, to energy products, the gas that's in your car, the groceries on your supermarket shelf."

Elliott says the container business is the fastest-growing area of business.

The rapid growth sets the port up for expansion in the future.

"When you invest in docks and infrastructure, either on the cargo side or on the cruise side, you know, you have to be planning out 30, 40 years," Elliott said. "And so, we need to make sure we're ahead of the curve."

The port’s busy season is from the fall through the spring, so the year-round operation of the Margaritaville at Sea cruise ship will help boost traffic during the slower months.

The ship will sail from Port Tampa Bay to Key West and the Caribbean on four to seven-night itineraries. 


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