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Port of Tampa

Sailing from Tampa? There's plenty of before (or after) cruise activities!

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Sensation docked at Port of Tampa
©Dawn Henthorn licensed to About.com, Inc.
The largest and fastest growing metropolitan city on Florida's Gulf Coast is home to one of the fastest growing cruise homeports in the nation — Port of Tampa. It is estimated that nearly a million passengers annually set sail to their favorite Caribbean or Mexican destinations from the Tampa location.

The port has existed for many years, but it wasn't until about a dozen years ago that Carnival launched the first passenger cruise ship. Before that, only grimy freighters inhabited the waters and the surrounding warehouse district didn't provide the most scenic waterfront. All that has changed and the port is the centerpiece of a beautiful, bustling Channelside entertainment district, with the acrchitecturally unique Florida Aquarium as its anchor. Cruise lines that have joined Carnival in calling Tampa home are: Holland America, Royal Caribbean, and Celebrity.

Aside from sailing from an ultra-modern state-of-the-art terminal, possibly the highlight of taking a cruise from Tampa is the ship's passage under the 183-foot tall span of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. It's an amazing experience!

Things to Do Before or After Your Cruise

There are a wide array of things to do and see before you embark on your cruise (or after you disembark). Adjacent to the port is Channelside which has it all — cinemas, IMAX theater, restaurants and unique shopping.

Anchoring the Port and Channelside is The Florida Aquarium. The waterfront Aquarium stands out as an architectural marvel, but it is what is inside that will keep you entertained and cool before or after you set sail.

If you still have extra time on your hands, hop aboard one of Tampa's electric streetcars. The streetcars offer a step back in time for a charming bit of nostalgia and the short round trip to Ybor City, one of Tampa's most historic areas, is memorable as well. There you will find additional shopping and dining experiences.

If you want to plan more than a day to stay and play, the Tampa Bay area offers plenty of other adventures as well. Tampa is home to Busch Gardens of Tampa Bay, Lowry Park Zoo and the Museum of Science and Industry. Of course, just a few miles away are some of Florida's best Gulf beaches.

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