TAMPA (FOX 13) - Port Tampa Bay announced Friday that Royal Caribbean will offer cruises to Cuba from Tampa beginning April 2017.
This comes on the heels of Royal Caribbean International being granted approval to offer cruises to the island country.
"This is truly historic for Port Tampa Bay to have cruises to Cuba and we are thrilled that Royal Caribbean has chosen Port Tampa Bay to offer the largest ship to sail to Cuba from the United States. To have three Royal Caribbean ships in 2017 is exciting for cruise passengers seeking new and innovative experiences," Paul Anderson, port president and CEO, said.
The recently revitalized Empress of the Seas will homeport in Tampa for the 2017 summer season. This will be the cruise line's first-ever summer program from Tampa.
"The Tampa Bay market has always been important to us, and the entire family at Royal Caribbean is excited to give our guests great year-round options to travel on one of our beautiful ships from a world-class port like Port Tampa Bay," Michael Bayley, President & CEO, Royal Caribbean International, said.
The Empress of the Seas will join the 2,543-passenger, Brilliance of the Seas, and 2,416-passenger, Rhapsody of the Seas for 2017. The three ships will offer a variety of four-, five- and seven-day itineraries. She will arrive in Tampa on April, 30, 2017 and start the season with a seven-day cruise, and then finish the season with a variety of four- and five-day itineraries.
Details of the summer itineraries will be released at a later date.
"We are thrilled to introduce culture-seeking travelers to Cuba from Tampa and we look forward to continuing to grow our business in Tampa for years to come," said Bayley.