Update, 2:56 p.m. EDT: Passengers have been let back into the cruise terminal and check in and boarding have begun. No impact on itinerary is anticipated, Royal Caribbean said.
(1:48 p.m. EDT) -- A suspicious package at the Port of Tampa has forced thousands of passengers ready to embark on a four-night Royal Caribbean cruise to evacuate the terminal, the Tampa Bay Times reported. Police are on the scene investigating.
Royal Caribbean confirmed the news to Cruise Critic. "The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is currently investigating a suspicious package located on the dock at the Port of Tampa," Cynthia Martinez, the company's director of global corporate communications, said. "In an abundance of caution, the Sheriff's Office has evacuated the terminal building Royal Caribbean uses to check in guests sailing on Jewel of the Seas. They have also requested that no one board the ship at this time."
According to the Tampa Bay Times report, the package is part of a shipping pallet that was scheduled to be loaded onto the cruise ship. It was flagged by an on location K-9 unit, and then again by a second K-9 brought into to double check.
A 1:30 p.m. update from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said that bomb technicians have completed an initial screening and are now rescreening a few items. According to the office's public information officer, this should be completed within the hour.
Once completed, the terminal will reopen to passengers. Until then, it is unclear how long the ship's departure may be delayed. All passengers on the previous cruise had already debarked before the package was found.
Jewel of the Seas is set to depart today for a four-night itinerary that includes a call to Cozumel.
--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor