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Skip Navigation · Home · Spanish ports back the recovery of cruise tourism
Spanish ports back the recovery of cruise tourism

22 Spanish Port Authorities take part in Seatrade Cruise Global in Miami, the world's largest cruise fair

Spanish ports back the recovery of cruise tourism


  • 810,340 cruise passengers transited through Spanish ports in the first quarter of the year
  • The ports will invest more than €343 million in facilities and equipment for passenger terminals in the 2021-2025 period.
  • The cruise industry in Spain created more than 50,000 jobs and its turnover amounted to almost €6 billion in 2019.



22-04-2022 (Ports of the State Public Body). Cruise tourism is still one of the main bets of the Spanish ports, following the end of the most critical phase of the pandemic which has been affecting the world for two years. This is confirmed by the more than 810,340 cruise passengers who have travelled through one of the 46 ports considered to be of general interest to the State. Despite a 643% increase compared to the 2021 data, the 2022 cruise passenger figure is 65% lower than the 2019 one, when 1.8 million passengers were counted.


The peak of cruise traffic through Spanish ports took place in 2019, when more than 10.6 million cruise passengers and 4,236 cruise ships travelled through the facilities of some of the 28 Spanish Authorities. With growth of around 5% per year, cruise and cruise passenger traffic increased from 4 million passengers in 2005, to 7.2 million in 2010, to 8.6 million in 2015, reaching an all-time high in 2019.



2020 started relatively normally, with very similar figures for the first two months (1.3 million passengers), but the restrictions on passenger movement introduced in March led to a drop that lasted until the end of the year. In fact, in the following ten months, barely 80 thousand passengers were registered, closing the year with 1.37 million cruise passengers and a decrease of 87% compared to the 2019 data. 2021 began with the same negative trend, with passenger traffic dropping by as much as 95%. It was not until the second half of this year when the passenger restrictions were gradually lifted, that cruise ship arrivals began to pick up again, closing the year with 843,000 passengers and 2,100 ships that docked at least once in 90% of the Port Authorities.


The pandemic years served as an opportunity for the sector to implement new forms of management, focusing on safety and innovation so that the expected return could take place with maximum health guarantees. Sanitary measures were tightened, both in the terminals and on the ships themselves, and the first steps were limited to the Canary Islands, with occupancy levels reduced to less than half and departures and visits controlled by the creation of "bubble groups" that minimised the risk of contagion.




Public investment in facilities and equipment planned for passenger terminals amounts to €343.2 million in the 2021-2025 period, particularly the investments to be made in the Balearic Islands (€172.9 million), Algeciras Bay (€42 million), Las Palmas (€24.5 million), Ceuta (€22.7 million), Valencia (€19.4 million), Melilla (€13.8 million) or Tarragona (€11.5 million).


These investments, together with those made in 2019 and 2020, amounting to more than €101.8 million, will total €445 million.




As usual in recent years, the Ports of the State Public Body will bring together the Spanish offer at the Ports of Spain stand, measuring 418 m2, at the Seatrade Cruise Global to be held in the US city of Miami from 25 to 28 April. The Port Authorities of A Coruña, Alicante, Almería, Algeciras Bay, Cadiz Bay, Balearic Islands, Barcelona, Bilbao, Cartagena, Ceuta, Ferrol, Huelva, Málaga, Melilla, Motril, Santander, Seville, Tarragona, Valencia and Vigo will be present. In addition, the Port Authorities of Las Palmas and S.C. de Tenerife will also be present at the Cruises Atlantic Island stand, as well as a large group of local institutions and service companies.




Cruise lines plan to deploy a volume that could reach near pre-pandemic levels in Spain by 2022, according to data from the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).


Globally, nearly 100% of the ships in CLIA's fleet are expected to be operational this August, making 2022 "a vital year in the recovery of pre-pandemic passenger volumes (over 29 million) in 2023".


In terms of pre-pandemic data for Spain, in 2019, more than 550,000 Spaniards chose a cruise as a holiday option, a figure that positions Spain as the fourth largest outbound market in Europe.


The cruise industry in Spain created more than 50,000 jobs that year and its turnover amounted to almost €6 billion, according to CLIA estimates.


The association noted that for every 24 cruise passengers, the equivalent of one full-time job is created and, on average, each passenger spends €660 on the destinations they visit over the course of a seven-day cruise.


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