TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Cruise ships will sail out of Tampa Bay soon, and the first as early as mid-October.

Port Tampa Bay President and CEO Paul Anderson says Royal Caribbean International will resume sailing from the port in October. 

It’s the first cruise to leave Tampa since March 2020.

Celebrity Cruises and Carnival Cruise Line will follow in November and Norwegian Cruise Line in December. 

Stewart Chiron is the The Cruise Guy®. He tells 8 On Your Side he’s America’s most quoted cruise industry expert. He’s boarded four cruises in the past eight weeks. One of those cruise ships saw two passengers diagnosed with COVID-19.

“In order for these cruise lines to resume and do it safely based on what they’re claiming with science it’s best that everyone on board is vaccinated,” Chiron said.

Recently, 27 people on a Carnival Cruise Line, most of the staff members, tested positive for the virus.

Port Tampa Bay says it has rigorous cleaning and sanitation practices in place, including deep cleaning every terminal after a cruise sails and cleaning and sanitizing railings, doorknobs, and countertops.

“When they restarted in June it was the right time, prior to that it didn’t make sense which is why the cruise lines didn’t push it,” Chiron said.

The Port Tampa Bay website shows Royal Caribbean leaving Tampa on Oct. 16. That cruise is visiting the Bahamas. 

You can read Paul Anderson’s full statement below:

“Port Tampa Bay enthusiastically welcomes back our cruise line partners. Beginning in mid-October, Royal Caribbean International will resume sailing from our port, followed by Celebrity Cruises and Carnival Cruise Line in November and Norweigan Cruise Line in December. Tampa has long been regarded as an attractive homeport thanks to the variety of quality hotel and dining options, our world-class beaches and nearby attractions. The return of the cruise industry will have a far-reaching economic impact on our region.”