Carnival Cruise Lines’ 2,052-passenger Carnival Paradise arrived this morning in Tampa following a 14-day Panama Canal cruise and will sail on its inaugural cruise from the port later this afternoon.

Carnival Paradise is replacing the Carnival Inspiration on four- and five-day western Caribbean cruises from the Port of Tampa, becoming the newest Carnival “Fun Ship” to operate this popular itinerary.

On this route, Carnival Paradise departs Thursdays on four-day cruises to Cozumel and on Mondays and Saturdays on five-day voyages to Cozumel and Grand Cayman.  The Carnival Inspiration is being deployed to Long Beach, Calif., to operate year-round three- and four-day cruises.

Carnival Paradise joins the 2,124-passenger Carnival Legend, which sails year-round seven-day Caribbean voyages from Tampa.

Carnival is the only cruise line to offer year-round cruises from Tampa and has maintained a year-round presence since it launched seven-day Caribbean cruises in 1994.  Over the years, the company has dramatically expanded its presence at the Port of Tampa, adding newer and larger ships and offering a greater variety of itineraries.

This year, the line’s two-year-round ships, Carnival Paradise and Carnival Legend, are expected to carry an estimated 300,000 passengers from Tampa – a 10-fold increase versus Carnival’s first year of operations there.

“With its convenient location, excellent facilities and proximity to top tourist attractions, Tampa has become one of our most popular homeports and Carnival Paradise will provide an exciting and affordable short cruise option from Florida’s west coast,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival’s president and CEO.  “The Tampa Port Authority is a valued business partner and we’re proud and delighted to continue our excellent relationship with the Carnival Paradise,” he added.

“The Tampa Port Authority is thrilled that Carnival Cruise Lines recognizes the importance of Florida’s west coast market and continues to enhance its year round services,” said Tampa Port Director Richard Wainio.  “The addition of the Carnival Paradise is a testament to Carnival’s longstanding success with year round cruising from Tampa.  We value our good relationship with Carnival and look forward to working together to serve cruise passengers in the Port of Tampa,” he noted.

Carnival Paradise offers a distinctive décor with dramatic public spaces that pay homage to great ocean liners of the past, with memorable venues such as the Queen Mary Lounge, Normandie Theater, Rotterdam Bar and the Leonardo Lounge.

The ship also features spacious, modern facilities and programming for children in three age groups, along with a three swimming pools, including one with a spiral water slide.  Dining options include two formal restaurants with extensive menus and wine lists and an expansive poolside eatery with a 24-hour pizzeria.  Other features include a 12,000-square-foot health and fitness center, a jogging track, and Serenity, an exclusive adults-only retreat.