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For the first time in nearly 2 years, a Carnival cruise ship set sail from Port Tampa Bay

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Posted at 5:26 PM, Nov 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-14 19:09:49-05

TAMPA, Fla. — Carnival Cruises are back in the Tampa Bay area. The Carnival Pride is the first Carnival ship to set sail from Port Tampa Bay since the pandemic shut down.

“I am extremely excited,” said passenger Philip Piant.

Piant isn’t the only one excited. In fact, even with masks on, you could still see the huge smiles and joy on everyone’s face as they waited to board the ship.

“There is a lot of fun to have on the ship, and a lot of good times,” Piant said. “That’s why we sail as much as we do.”

Piant is cruising with his special lady Maribeth Kring. They’re VIP guests, like the hundreds of others who got on the ship first.

“We are making up for lost time,” Kring said. “To have the cruises back means a lot for our local economy, and anybody who depends on cruising. A lot of people have been hurting for long time.”

According to the city, one ship alone brings in more than $334,000 to small businesses. And for the port, cruise ships make up 20% of the revenue.

“We have been very busy working, maintaining the terminals, preparing for this day,” said Raul Alfonso, Executive Vice President for the Port of Tampa. “We are glad to be here at this day. Back to fun, and be safe."

There are nearly 1,600 passengers on board and all of the passengers on board must be vaccinated. There are exceptions for guests under 12. All guests must take a COVID-19 test and show proof of their negative results before boarding. The crew and staff are all also required to be vaccinated.

“We do have a mask policy in doors in some areas where we can not social distance,” said Sara Beth Reno, Vice President of guest operations. “Guests will still have fun and enjoy their time on board like they did before the pandemic even started.”

The seven-day cruise will make several stops in the Western Caribbean, and each port has different rules. Carnival said it’s important that guest read their itineraries before leaving the ship at all of the ports they stop at.