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First cruise ship readies to set sail from Port Tampa Bay on Saturday

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Posted at 3:58 PM, Oct 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-14 17:13:06-04

This Saturday, Port Tampa Bay will be full of cruise ship travelers. This hasn't happened since the CDC issued a no-sale order in March of 2020.

"I love to cruise," the owner of Seas Today Travels Shari Mareness said.

Well before cruising made a comeback in Tampa Bay, Mareness had to sail the seas before advising her clients.

"We cruised in June. We flew into Nassau. We were one of the first ones out after the pandemic," Mareness said.

She says most of her clients have been travelers looking to take their first cruise in quite some time.

"My phone has rung nonstop. Probably in the last two weeks, I have booked three or four cruises a day," she said.

On Saturday, Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas will depart to the Bahamas. Royal Caribbean passengers 12-years-old and older must provide proof they've been vaccinated against COVID-19 and show proof they've tested negative for the virus. There is no universal COVID-19 protocol for cruise lines. Passengers should check with their cruise line to figure out what should be done prior to embarking.

Lisa Wolf-Chason with Port Tampa Bay says this will be the start of an economic boost for a part of town that's truly transformed.

"We celebrate the return for not only ourselves, but for all of the tourism and small business-related industries," Wolf-Chason said.

According to a press release from Port Tampa Bay, a ship with 3,000 passengers generates an average of $334,000 dollars for the homeport city.

"This is truly a great time to celebrate and spend time in Tampa in and of itself," Wolf-Chason said. "So, we're really excited that Tampa will get this big boost in tourism from the cruise business."

Port Tampa Bay will hold an event celebrating the return of cruising to the area. It kicks off at 9 a.m. on Saturday.