New cruise options coming to Port Tampa Bay

A new cruise line soon set sail from Tampa. MSC Cruises announced Thursday its ships will depart from Port Tampa Bay next fall.

MSC Cruises plans to start sailing to the Caribbean, Mexico and the Bahamas year-round, and it won't be the only new cruise line coming in the next couple of years.

"The ships definitely have a very European flavor to the service, to the food. So, it will be a really unique and great addition," said Wade Elliott, the vice president of marketing and business development with Port Tampa Bay.

The port already works with MSC to ship cargo, and now it will join Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian as the place to start and end a vacation. Locals in Tampa Bay said they like options.

"From Tampa, it's easy to get to the Caribbean, but I've been blessed to be all over the U.S. and all around of the world," said Diana Pollard of Tampa.

Plus in 2021, Port Tampa Bay will add Celebrity Cruises.

"Just everything that's happening in our market now, it's really become a dynamic destination onto itself," said Elliott.

The port plans to make some upgrades to handle the new passengers for security and capacity, adding to the action behind the scenes.

"The pilots, and the tugs that bring the ship in. The stevedore and the longshoremen who handle the passengers' baggage with a smile on their face, the sheriff's department that orchestrates the traffic coming in and out of the terminal," said Elliott about the process to navigate a cruise ship in and out of port.

From the airport to the deck, travelers tell me they are excited.

"More vacations for me! I will definitely be using everything out of Tampa," said Pollard.

MSC Cruises says it will offer 4- or 5-day and even week-long cruises out of Tampa. Port leaders said they expect the cruise line to bring in more European and Canadian visitors to the area.