The Port of Barcelona has closed the summer season with a 16% increase in cruise passenger numbers for the same period of 2010, confirming the Port Authority is on track to achieving its forecast of 2.5 million cruise passengers and 900 cruise vessel calls in the year 2011. By the end of October, the Port had received a total of 2.4 million cruise passengers and 785 cruise calls. Barcelona continues to consolidate its position as a turnaround or homeport with 58.5% of cruise passengers arriving at the port either beginning or ending their journey in the city. This type of traffic represents a significant boost to the economy of Barcelona and Catalonia as passengers regularly spend additional nights in the city or nearby areas with further spending on accommodation, restaurants, excursions and shopping etc. In 2010 alone, this type of tourism contributed 260 million euros to the country’s tertiary sector.
Client loyalty among shipping companies
This season, the three largest cruise vessels sailing in the Mediterranean chose Barcelona as their homeport: the Liberty of the Seas, (Royal Caribbean), the Norwegian Epic, (Norwegian Cruise Line) and the Carnival Magic (Carnival Cruises). All three shipping companies have located their most up-to-date and best-equipped vessels in the city. Excluding crewmembers, the three vessels can accommodate a total of 14,000 passengers. The Port is therefore maintaining its leadership in the cruise sector by strengthening its position as the leading cruise port in Europe and the Mediterranean and the 4th homeport in the world, surpassed only by the three large ports of the state of Florida.
Companies with a strong presence in the Port of Barcelona such as Costa Cruises and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) have experienced significant growth throughout the year. Operators such as Pullmantur, Iberocruceros and Holland America have also increased their calls in the city. Disney Cruise Line has also consolidated its presence in the Barcelona port area by initiating all its summer cruise schedules in the Port. The Seabourn Cruise Line chose to launch the vessel Seabourn Quest in the Port of Barcelona This ceremony usually takes place in the shipbuilders yard or a nearby port but on this occasion was held in the Port of Barcelona. Efforts made by the Port of Barcelona to break with seasonality trends in the Mediterranean cruise sector to have cruise vessels operating all year round, continue to bear fruits. In the specific case of November, a total of 74 calls are scheduled, some 27% up on last year’s figure of 58.
Cruise passengers by nationality
In relation to cruise passengers, the 2010 nationality study revealed that Spanish passenger numbers (19%) had increased to occupy first place followed by North Americans (17%), British (16%) and Italians (15%). This type of tourism is also beginning to attract other nationalities such as South Americans who make up 7% of the total, an increase of 5% on last year. Growth in the Port of Barcelona over the last 10 years is due to a number of factors such as the firm commitment of the APB and the Barcelona Port Community to the cruise industry, which has materialised into excellent facilities of international recognition. It is also due to on-going commercial initiatives, the excellent services and professionalism offered by the Barcelona Port Community to both shipping companies and passengers, the attraction of Barcelona itself, support infrastructure (airport, HSR, etc.) and high security levels at the cruise terminals and the port as a whole.
More efficient operations
This season the Port of Barcelona set out to improve the accesses to cruise terminals by implementing two key actions. Firstly, the Port Authority opened a dedicated entrance lane for public transport (taxis and buses),in use since 1st July to coincide with days of heightened cruise activity in the port. Also, the taxi area at Terminal A has doubled in size allowing 15 vehicles to operate simultaneously. These initiatives have allowed mobility to improve at the Adossat quay, speeding up entry and exit operations and reducing the amount of time tourists have to wait before reaching the city. The Port has also introduced changes to reinforce security at the cruise terminals. Since 1st March companies responsible for port services provided to cruise traffic have taken on the responsibility of monitoring the security of passenger and luggage under the constant supervision and command of the Guardia Civil, who are still present inside port facilities to carry out the official surveillance of these services. This approach is being implemented with two main objectives: to release police personnel to enable them to focus on other surveillance and security tasks and to better allocate resources in response to demand as terminals can contract the resources they require on the basis of passenger volume and time slots.