Spanish ports recorded 2.76 million cruise ship passengers in the first quarter of the year, a 1.38% increase over the same period of 2018 according to data published by Puertos del Estado, revealing that 1,131 cruise ships reached their ports, 102 fewer than last year, which means 8.27% fewer.
Cruise ships passengers accounted for 29.7% of total passengers registered in the first four months of the year across all Spanish ports, and adding cruise and in-transit passengers (those boarding and landing), the amount totals 9.14 million (5.91% more).
In April, 968,365 cruise passengers visited Spanish ports, meaning a 10% drop in comparison to the same month of 2018. 450 cruise ships arrived in these ports, 71 less in comparison to the 521 recorded last year in the same month.
The seasonality of the cruise industry has a dramatic impact on traffic during winter, while it peaks between June and September in the whole season, showing a positive trend in the latest data.
So far this year, Las Palmas leads with the number of passenger arrivals as usual, with 836,941 cruise ship passengers (16.21% more) and 279 cruises (35 fewer than in 2018).
The destination is followed by Santa Cruz de Tenerife, with 548,689 passengers until April (6.2% increase) with 235 cruise ships in the first quarter of the year (41 fewer than last year).
For its part, the Balearic Islands saw the arrival of 363,714 cruise passengers in the first quarter (3.92% fewer) after registering 107 cruises (22 fewer than in the first quarter of 2018).
From January to April, Malaga reported 115,653 cruise passenger arrivals (10.6% more compared to the same period of 2018), and received 53 cruises (8 more).
Malaga is followed by Bahía de Cádiz, with 94,734 cruise passengers (16% decrease) and 73 cruise ships (8 fewer); Valencia, with 90,434 cruise passengers in the first quarter (9.5% more) and 76 ships (1 fewer); and the Port of A Coruña, with 36,593 passengers (100% increase) and 30 ships (17 more than a year ago).
While the authorities rejoice over growing numbers, the locals are often displeased by the amounts of cruise ship passengers. Some eco organizations in Palma de Mallorca launched recently a campaign to limit the arrival of cruise ships to 4,000 visitors.
"3 or 4 cruises are accumulated here and they pour over the city 15,000 people who destroy everything they can," Jaume Garau, president of the environmental platform Palma XXI, one of the promoters of the manifesto, said.
In ten years, the number of cruise passengers disembarking in this city went from 545,000 in 2009 to 1.19 million last year, according to data from the regional statistics institute.
A recent study by the European Transport & Environment association places Palma de Mallorca as the second city on the continent with the most pollution from this type of tourism, behind Barcelona and ahead of Venice.