Barcelona mayor proposes halving number of cruise ship passengers in high season

Council, port and Catalan and Spanish authorities discuss potential regulations

The Costa Luminosa cruise ship in the port of Barcelona, January 2022 (by Lluís Sibils)
The Costa Luminosa cruise ship in the port of Barcelona, January 2022 (by Lluís Sibils) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

July 19, 2022 11:05 AM

Barcelona mayor Ada Colau has proposed halving the number of cruise ship passengers arriving in the Catalan capital in high season, limiting them to a maximum of 10,000 people per day.

And as is already the case in Palma de Mallorca, Colau believes Barcelona should not allow more than three cruise ships to dock in the port per day.

These were the main proposals she put forth in a meeting that took place on Monday alongside port officials as well as Catalan and Spanish authorities to discuss potential regulations on the sector.

The Barcelona port, located right beside the city's old town and rated Europe's most cruise-ship polluted in 2019 by the European Federation for Transport and Environment, welcomes some 400,000 cruise ship passengers on a monthly basis from May to October.

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Beyond environmental concerns, it also leads to crowding and noise in one of the city's most densely-populated districts, Ciutat Vella, and contributes to gentrification – and yet tourism accounts for around 15% of Barcelona's GDP.

Limiting terminals, not cruises

Port of Barcelona president – and former Catalan sustainability minister – Damià Calvet rejected Colau's proposal to limit cruise ship passengers, but expressed a commitment "to work" towards reaching an agreement. 

Rather than limiting the number of cruises, Calvet argues the number of cruise ship terminals should be limited and moved farther away from the city center, as had been agreed upon in 2018 but is yet to occur. 

The Catalan government's secretary for territory and mobility, Isidre Gavín, sided with Calvet, assuring that he wholeheartedly backed the port's strategy. 

Quantifying impact of cruises

There is one thing all four parties can agree on: the need to "update and unify" figures relating to the impact of cruises, both in terms of the economy and the environment by measuring the same phenomena according to the same criteria.

Council, port, Catalan and Spanish authorities have agreed to meet again in September to discuss the next steps.