Its days as a lumber, cattle and phosphate-shipping port have diminished, but Tampa is richly flavored by the migration in the late 19th century of Hispanics to the 200 cigar-rolling factories. Sports fans know Tampa as home to a professional football team, an ice hockey team that plays just blocks from the cruise terminal and a major league baseball franchise to the west, in St. Petersburg.
Tampa is the business hub of the Gulf Coast of Florida, with emphasise on banking, real estate, insurance and shipping interests.
Next to the cruise terminal is the Florida Aquarium; here are otters, wading birds and more. For a fee you can don a wetsuit and swim with the sharks. The Ybor City entertainment district can be reached via electric tram or taxi from the ship; former cigar factories are artists’ studios and shopping malls; a community museum offers walking tours. Canoe rentals are available along the Hillsborough River, which runs from forested park through the commercial downtown.
• Ybor City
• Tampa Theatre (grandiose 1926 movie palace)
• Busch Gardens (wild animals, thrill rides)
• Lowry Park Zoo
• Florida Aquarium
• Henry B. Plant Museum
Tampa Tourist Information
At the cruise port: 615 Channelside Drive, Tampa, U.S.
Tel: (+1) 813 223 1111.
There is little shopping near the terminal, but a 15-minute taxi ride away is International Mall, with trendy shops and upscale US department stores, chain clothing and electronic stores.
Hispanic cuisine is popular, especially in traditional restaurants in Ybor City. Main courses would include paella, which combines rice, saffron, chicken, seafood and Spanish sausage and pork dishes. But among Tampa’s most-noted restaurants, the focus is on steaks – Bern’s is considered the finest steakhouse in all of Florida – as well as Caribbean, seafood and Deep South, or soul food. The most popular saltwater fish are grouper, mackerel and mullet. Lunch anywhere can include the Cuban sandwich – a crusty, elongated roll holding sliced pork, Genoa salami, swiss cheese and pickles -served cold or pressed on a grill.
When to go:
May to September, temperature and humidity will seldom drop below 26°C (85°F), every day, with frequent thunderstorms. This area is said to be the lightning-strike capital of North America. Winters are mild; a ‘cold’ February day might drop to 7°C (45°F).
8km (5 miles).
10 minutes drive.