Barcelona becomes first cruise ship port in Europe and the Mediterranean Sea
The arrival of the huge ‘Liberty of the Seas’ and the luxurious ‘Queen Mary 2’ proves the power this kind of tourism is gaining in Catalonia's capital city.
Barcelona (ACN).- Step by step, Barcelona is becoming an important port of call for cruise ships from all over the world, and it is already the main stop off point in Europe and the Mediterranean Sea. In 2010, 2,350,000 passengers used the port's facilities: an increase of 9% on 2009 figures. These numbers show that Barcelona has become Europe's first cruise ship port, and also the fourth docking port in the world. Catalonia also has other ports where cruise ships stop: Tarragona, Palamós and Roses. 2011 could also be a record year for Palamós, the small harbour on the Costa Brava. Around 40 cruise ships are expected to harbour there this year.
Barcelona is the first placed cruise ship port in Europe
Only three ports in the North American State of Florida; Miami Port, Port Canaveral, and Port Everglades outnumber Barcelona's cruise ship traffic. In addition, Barcelona is becoming the home port of many cruise ships, which sail in the Mediterranean Sea. The Catalan port is the starting point or final destination for half of passengers that stop in Barcelona annually on those ships.
'Liberty of the Seas' arrives at Barcelona Port
The docking of the massive cruise ship 'Liberty of the Seas' last Saturday has demonstrated the increasing power of maritime tourism in the Catalan city. 'Liberty' is one of the biggest vessels sailing at the moment. Just 15 metres separate this ship from the cruise ships considered the biggest in the world: the 'Royal Caribbean Oasis' and the 'Allure of the Seas'. 'Liberty' is 339 metres long and has the capacity for 4,300 passengers and 1,400 crewmembers. Among its features, it offers surf simulators, climbing walls, a minigolf course and even an ice skating rink. Up until September, the 154,000 ton ship will offer four, five and seven night trips through the Mediterranean Sea, with Barcelona as the main home port. This colossal cruise ship will use Barcelona as its docking port until autumn 2011, and it will operate from Terminal B of 'Adossat Wharf', in which most of the cruises dock.
Terminal B has an area of 6,500 square metres and is specially adapted to operate with the biggest cruises available on the market. It also has the capacity to perform embarkation and disembarkation, simultaneously with Terminal A.
But 'Liberty' is not the only truly remarkable cruise ship to dock in Barcelona. The luxurious 'Queen Mary 2', is a regular visitor to Barcelona's port. In 2005, the cruise ship decided to make Barcelona one of its home ports too, and has visited the city on a regular basis since then.
In the coming weeks, the arrival of other cruises is expected. The 'Carnival Magic', the most modern vessel of Carnival's fleet will arrive in Barcelona on May 10th, and the 'Norwegian Epic' from Norwegian Cruise Line, with a capacity for 4,100 passengers and 329.5 metres long is expected on May 18th.
Cruise passengers can check their airport luggage at the harbour Terminal, and vice versa
The 350 passengers of the 'Liberty of the Seas' do not have to carry their luggage around, as the Airport and the Harbour are linked together with a service that lets cruise passengers check their luggage in at the airport or at the harbour.
This service is always open as the fair weather arrives, and has been offered in the airport for four years. Passengers arriving in Barcelona to embark a cruise, can check their luggage in directly at the airport. This year, the service is also offered for passengers arriving from a cruise at Barcelona Port, for a flight scheduled at El Prat Airport. It is estimated that this year, more than 40,000 travellers will take advantage of this service.
40 cruises will stop in Palamós this summer
Barcelona is not the only location experiencing a growing interest in these kinds of ships. The port in the Catalan town of Palamós, on the Costa Brava, is expecting 40 cruise ships in 2011. They will bring 40,000 passengers to the town in northern Catalonia, an increase of 45% compared with last year's results. Furthermore, a cruise ship visit has been organised for December, in order to "seasonally equalise" the market, with cruises heavily concentrated in the summer months. It is estimated that each cruise ship passenger spends on average 70 euros per day during stopovers. This year, Palamós hopes to see 150,000 passengers, and is also expecting to obtain the best results in its history.
The favourable conditions seen in Barcelona and Palamós ports, contrasts with the small harbour of Roses, where no cruise ship are scheduled to dock this year,
Second highest figures for growth out of all Mediterranean ports
According to a Medcruise study, Palamós' port ranks second in a list of Mediterranean ports that have grown the most in the last ten years. Only the Croatian port of Split has better figures than the Catalan town in the number of passengers. Unfortunately, Palamós' port does not generate benefits, as it is mainly self-funded, but it will continue supporting cruise ship tourism. In 2011, five cruise ships will pass through Palamós; the \u2018MSC Melody\u2019, the \u2018Grand Mistral\u2019, the \u2018Island Scape, the \u2018Seabourn\u2019 and the \u2018Saga Ruby\u2019.