Ocean of opportunity

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The nature of the operations at the Port of Barcelona provides insight into the Mediterranean cruise industry. Lionel Alva...
The cruise industry is booming and the Port of Barcelona is among the largest cruise ship harbors in the Mediterranean and among Europe’s busiest ports. Nearly 8500 vessels dock each year at the port. Through its cruise ship schedules, the port offers voyages throughout the year and the city of Barcelona is a large prosperous city that is bustling with activity. Owing to its charms and Mediterranean climate, the city receives millions of tourists each year. The Port of Barcelona, located in the heart of the city, has contributed to the attraction of tourist by modernising its facilities. Cruise activity in Barcelona generates a total turnover of €796 million and contributes € 413.2 million a year to Catalonia's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to the results of a study commissioned by the Port of Barcelona. The Mediterranean region remains among the most attractive cruise destinations in the world and one can visit several countries in the region within the span of a week. A booming industry According to statistics provided by the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (a not-for-profit trade organisation composed of 19 Member Lines operating more than 100 vessels in Floridian, Caribbean and Latin American waters); 23 million passengers are expected to be sailing the oceans on cruise liners, a four percent increase over 2014. This growth is being fuelled by 22 new ships (6 ocean-going vessels and 16 riverboats) representing 20,000 new beds and an investment of more than $4 billion slated for 2015, the record passengers will have the world as their gangway, with nearly 1,000 ports around the globe and expansion in regions including the Mediterranean, Asia and Australia. There are nine terminals in total at the Barcelona port, six of which are cruise terminals. A seventh terminal (Terminal E) will be built and managed by Carnival Corporation with an investment of €30 million. “Consumers are increasingly looking for cruises tailored to their needs. In this regard, the cruise lines are offering a much wider range of products in respond to this demand. In that sense, I think that the destination also must learn to adapt to this variety of profiles to provide a better experience,” says Carla Salvadó, marketing and cruise director, Port of Barcelona. And the foray of cruise ships into the Port of Barcelona delineates into a daily turnover of € 2.2 million in Catalonia (€ 1.7 million of which becomes the revenue for the city of Barcelona) according to Barcelona Tourism. Providing insight into the Cruise business at Barcelona while highlighting the dynamics of the cruise industry, Salvadó says, “Several market drivers are affecting the growth of the cruise line industry. Specifically, in the case of the Port of Barcelona, we have on our side the city, the Catalan capital, that is a place with great appeal and a huge cultural, architectural and entertainment offer; also a port with facilities and high quality services coupled with a nearby powerful airport. In addition, being in a region like the Mediterranean, with many points of attraction is also another plus.” The Catalan capital is an appealing destination with a huge cultural, architectural and entertainment facilities on offer coupled with high quality services. In addition, being in a region like the Mediterranean, which is geographically attractive coupled with consumers that espouse a high purchasing power makes it an appealing destination for the operation of cruise lines. Furthermore, proximity to the international airport with growing connections has also facilitated the influx of passengers from increasingly diverse nationalities. According to figures released by Barcelona Tourism, based on a survey of 3,100 cruise passengers, cruise passengers who visit the city without staying overnight spend on average 4.3 hours in Barcelona, representing 57.5 percent of total passenger movements. The “turnaround” cruise passengers (who start and end their route in Barcelona) stay on average 2.6 nights and account for 23.9 percent of total movements, while the remaining 18.6 percent correspond to passengers who get on the boat in the city without staying overnight or visiting it. Cruise passengers arriving in Barcelona usually travel in pairs to visit the city. 94 percent of passengers that stay the night in the city lodge in a hotel (compared to 47.5 percent of tourists on holiday in Barcelona). The study also specifies the average cost of different types of passengers: sight-seeing passengers (who visit the city but do not stay overnight) spend €53 on average; passengers (who do spend the night in Barcelona) spend €202 per day compared to holiday tourists in the city (who stay in a hotel), who spend an average of €156. Salvadó adds, “We see that the range of nationalities is expanding every passing year and is more international. We used to receive mostly Americans, British and Europeans and lately we are beginning to see cruisers of various nationalities.” The permanent coordination between the port, the airport and the city has also been a critical factor in allowing the Port of Barcelona’s cruise business to thrive. The port is also home to the ‘Allure of the Seas’, which is currently the largest cruise ship in the world, and operates from the Port of Barcelona. The ship offers 25 different routes from or to the Catalan capital. For each trip, the ‘Allure of the Seas’, which belongs to Royal Caribbean, welcomes 6,318 passengers on board. Due to the considerable size of the boat - 361 meters long - passengers are required to access and exit the facilities through two terminals of Barcelona’s Harbour. Royal Caribbean stated that the 158,000 passengers expected to travel on all 25 routes will bring €17.5 million to Barcelona’s local economy each year. Recent developments for the Port of Barcelona include two major investments being made by Carnival Corporation, a leading cruise group worldwide, for the recent redevelopment of Palacruceros terminal (built and managed by Carnival) and the upcoming construction of the new terminal (E) in the Adossat wharf with an area of 11,000 square meters and an estimated €30 million investment.
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