Bay Area cruise lovers will have one more option beginning next year. And it could put downward pressure on prices.
The Port of Tampa announced on Friday that AIDA, a Germany-based cruise line, will sail ships from Tampa between late 2014 and early 2016. The AIDAvita will call Tampa its home port beginning in December, 2014; the AIDAmar will take its place in the 2015/2016 season.
The port authority says these easily-recognizable ships, adorned with colorful paint on the hull, will sail weekly seven-night itineraries to the Western Caribbean. That route is similar to its many competitors in Tampa.
AIDA joins Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, and Norwegian in sailing from the Port of Tampa. The port just recently announced that Royal Caribbean will sail two ships from Tampa, up from one.
The addition of ADIA brings hundreds of extra cabins to an increasingly crowded market in Tampa, likely putting pressure on passenger fares.
Although itineraries and price quotes for the new AIDA cruises were not immediately available through public booking engines, other cruises from Tampa in the December 2014 time period are currently selling for $800 to $1,000 per passenger. However, those rates have, historically, fallen as the sailing date approaches.
Seven-night sailings from Tampa in December 2013, for example, are pricing at $400 per person—even without the addition of AIDA.
The port authority, which has worked aggressively to bring additional cruise lines to Tampa, made the AIDA announcement quietly, by e-mail.
"AIDA Cruises' announcement to come to Tampa is a milestone for us, not only at the port, but for all of our tourism and economic development partners in the region," Paul Anderson, TPA president and CEO, said in a statement. "We are thrilled to welcome AIDA to Tampa Bay and we know this will be the beginning of a long and rewarding relationship."
AIDAvita is the smaller and older of the two ships. The port says it was launched in 2002, has capacity of 1,266-passengers, and boasts a crew of 384. The younger AIDAmar can carry 2,194-passengers. It was launched in 2012 and has a crew of 609.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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