Carnival Miracle Kicks Off Year-Round Schedule From Tampa

Carnival Miracle docked in Grand Turk, Turks and CaicosPHOTO: Carnival Miracle docked in Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos. (photo via Wikimedia Commons/HurricaneX31)
Carnival Cruise Line’s 2,124-passenger Carnival Miracle kicked off a year-round program of seven-day cruises from Tampa this weekend. The move doubles the line’s capacity at the port and further bolsters its position as the leader in Caribbean cruising.

Carnival Miracle will offer the only year-round, longer-length cruise program from Port Tampa Bay, offering an unbeatable mix of destinations that appeal to a broad range of consumers, including families seeking an attractive and affordable vacation option.

Carnival Miracle joins Carnival Paradise which operates year-round four- to eight-day voyages from Tampa to the Caribbean and Cuba. Together, Carnival Miracle and Carnival Paradise will carry an estimated 280,000 passengers annually from Tampa – the most of any cruise operator.

“Carnival Cruise Line has been sailing from Tampa for nearly 25 years and we’re thrilled to add a second year-round ship to provide our guests with an even greater variety of fantastic cruise vacation choices from this convenient homeport,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “We would like to recognize our partners at Port Tampa Bay and the Tampa community, as well as our valued travel agent partners, for their efforts in making Tampa one of our most popular and successful embarkation ports,” she added.

“We’re delighted that Carnival Cruise Line will have two year-round cruise ships dedicated to the Tampa market,” said Paul Anderson, President/CEO Port Tampa Bay. “It speaks to the record-breaking demand of passengers in the Tampa Bay area wanting to get on a Carnival cruise.”

Seven-Day Sailings from Tampa

On its week-long Tampa-based cruise program, Carnival Miracle departs Port Tampa Bay Saturdays or Sundays calling at four popular western Caribbean ports: Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Mahogany Bay (Roatan) and Belize, each known for their world-class beaches, varied shore excursion opportunities, centuries-old historical sites and excellent dining and shopping experiences.

These voyages from Tampa are part of Carnival’s exclusive Cozumel Plus program, which features extended stays that provide guests even more opportunities to experience and explore one of the Caribbean’s most diverse vacation destinations with a variety of exciting and unforgettable excursion choices, many taking place on Mexico’s mainland.

New Six- to 14-Day Cruises to the Caribbean, Panama Canal

Carnival recently added several six- to 14-day sailings aboard Carnival Miracle visiting spectacular ports throughout the Caribbean as well as an unforgettable opportunity to experience a partial transit of the Panama Canal. During the transit, guests will experience one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World and sail on Gatun Lake, one of the largest man-made bodies of water in the world.

The new six-day voyages feature day-long stops at Cozumel, Belize, and Costa Maya or Mahogany Bay. Departure dates include Sept. 2 and Nov. 11, 2018, and Jan. 27 and March 31, 2019.

Eight-day Panama Canal cruises depart April 14 and Sept. 8, 2018, and Feb. 2 and April 6, 2019, and include a partial transit of the Panama Canal along with stops at Limon (Costa Rica) and Grand Cayman. There’s also an eight-day, five-port Caribbean cruise that departs Nov. 17, 2019, visiting Cozumel, Costa Maya, Mahogany Bay, Belize and Grand Cayman.

Miracle will also offer a 14-day Carnival Journeys Panama Canal cruise round-trip from Tampa Dec. 2-16, 2018, featuring Cozumel and Limon prior to a partial Panama Canal transit followed by visits to Cartagena (Colombia), Aruba, Curacao and Montego Bay (Jamaica). Guests sailing on Journeys cruises enjoy unique local dining and entertainment experiences and a number of shipboard-enrichment activities.

Signature Carnival Innovations

Guests sailing aboard Carnival Miracle can enjoy a wide range of onboard choices, the Caribbean-inspired RedFrog Pub, the cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar, Nick and Nora’s steakhouse located atop the ship’s 10-deck-high atrium, a luxurious 14,500-square-foot spa, and a Serenity adults-only retreat. Of the ship’s 1,062 staterooms, 80 percent offer either an ocean view or private balcony.

Family-friendly options include Seuss at Sea, an exclusive partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, Hasbro, The Game Show, with larger-than-life adaptations of the company’s iconic games and complimentary programming for children in three age groups – Camp Ocean (ages 2-11), Circle “C” (12-14) and Club O2 (15-17).

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Cuba cruises on Empress of the Seas to sail mainly from Tampa

After first April 19 cruise from Miami, Empress of the Seas will reposition to Tampa

After first April 19 cruise from Miami, Empress of the Seas will reposition to Tampa

Ater a first Cuba cruise from Miami on April 19, Royal Caribbean International’s Empress of the Seas will sail to the island from its new homeport, Tampa. Bookings opened today.

The April 19 cruise from Port Miami lasts five nights.

The ship will then reposition to Port Tampa Bay, offering two itineraries with calls at Havana on April 30, a seven-night sailing, and May 20, a five-night sailing.

Empress of the Seas will remain in Tampa for the 2017 summer season in the line’s first summer program from there, with a series of four- and five-night cruises, including calls in Cuba.

Details of the summer itineraries will be released at a later date.

Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez told Seatrade Cruise News the company has a framework for a long-term agreement with Cuba, and is working on the details of future sailings.

The line’s people-to-people experiences for passengers include exploring Old Havana and some of its most notable squares, historic neighborhoods and an artisan market, Havana’s rum museum and Hemingway’s former residence and favorite haunts.

Cuban culture will extend to Empress of the Seas, from cortaditos and café con leche in Café Royal to salsa music and other activities developed to bring the island to life during the entire journey.

Two other Royal Caribbean ships, Rhapsody of the Seas and Brilliance of the Seas, will cruise from Tampa during the winter.

‘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,’ RCI president and ceo Michael Bayley said. ‘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.’

Port president and ceo Paul Anderson welcomed the news as ‘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.’

The 48,563gt Empress of the Seas underwent a $50m refurbishment earlier in the year after coming back to the Royal Caribbean fleet following several years of service for Pullmantur. It has double-occupancy capacity for 1,602 passengers.