Barcelona is Spain’s most visited city with tourists flocking to explore its charming Gothic Quarter, relax on its beaches and eat at the famous Boqueria market.
In 2022, over 2.3 million cruise passengers visited Barcelona. But the booming industry could be under threat due to new ship limits.
In autumn, the city will ban ships from its northern docks. The plan is due to take effect from October 22.
It has been designed to limit exhaust gases in the city centre as ships will be directed to dock further outside the city. Barcelona is the most polluted city in Europe from cruise ships.
However, the new rule will come as a blow to many cruise passengers as they will no longer be able to disembark and walk straight to the city’s central street, La Rambla.
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After October 22, cruise ships will need to dock at the southern port which is further from the city centre. The southern port is currently used by larger cruise ships, including those operated by Royal Caribbean.
Passengers disembarking at the southern port will need to take a shuttle bus or taxi to the city centre as it’s too far to walk.
Lluis Salvadó, president of the Port of Barcelona, said the plan to move ships was not an “arbitrary decision”.
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He said the plan had been the “work of years” to reduce “emissions” for Barcelona’s local population.
The decision is part of a wider plan to limit the impact of cruise tourism on the city, following protests and concerns around overtourism and pollution.
Many residents have complained that cruise tourists don’t spend any money in the city but cause crowds in the city.
Barcelona is just one of many cities to limit cruise ships, following similar regulations in Venice, Amsterdam and Santorini.
Overtourism is a worry in many of Europe’s top destinations and France recently launched a campaign to encourage tourists to visit some of the country’s lesser-known attractions.
Tourists have complained of feeling like “herded cattle” in one of France’s main landmarks while another tourist said huge crowds at Mont St Michel meant they would never return there.
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