Spain’s Attempt to Restrict Cruise Ships Faces Legal Challenges

Spanish government officials said they cannot approve cruise ship limits as it has no current legal standing to do so.

Barcelona and port Port Vell
Barcelona and Port Vell from the natural park Montjuic, Spain. (Oceania)

“In the absence of the necessary legal support,” the Ministry of Transport and Sustainable Mobility cannot currently enforce limits on cruise ships in response to written questions from lawmakers.

Two Congressional deputies had sought answers to government plans to manage responsible levels of cruise tourism. The government responded that prior agreement is first required with cruise lines, cruise industry service providers, and other stakeholders.

The Deputies want a stricter regulatory framework to manage cruise ship traffic and its environmental impacts.

Spanish Cruise Ports Impose Ship Limits

carnival freedom barcelona spain
Carnival Freedom in Barcelona, Spain.

This comes as the Barcelona municipal government moves forward with cruise ship limits. The city recently closed the centrally located World Trade Center pier to large cruise ships. This pier is just a short walk to the famous Las Ramblas district.

Now, cruise ships will dock at the more distant Moll d’Adossat pier. City officials said this pier will have shore power in the future to reduce cruise ship pollution. Also, this April, there is an increase from €2.75 to €3.25 for cruise passengers and other tourists visiting Barcelona.

In 2022, the Port of Palma on the island of Mallorca set a maximum limit of three cruise ships per day. Just one of these can be a larger ship with a guest capacity above 5,000. The rule is effective until at least 2025. Palma is a top Mediterranean cruise hub, attracting about 2.5 million cruise ship guests annually.

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