Spanish Hotspot Set To Impose Cruise Ship Restrictions

Barcelona Issues Cruise Ship Clampdown

Large cruise ships in Barcelona. Credit: Ioan Panaite/

In an effort to combat overtourism and pollution, one of Spain’s most iconic cities is taking steps to limit the number of cruise ships docking at its ports.

On October 22, Barcelona, Spain’s most frequented tourist spot, will introduce restrictions on cruise ships docking at its northern ports. The city, renowned for its captivating Gothic Quarter, sun-kissed beaches, and the legendary Boqueria market, welcomed over 2.3 million cruise travellers in 2022, according to the Express.

A Move For Cleaner Air

The initiative aims to reduce exhaust emissions in the city’s heart by directing ships to anchor further afield. Notably, Barcelona holds the dubious distinction of being Europe’s most polluted city due to cruise ships.

Impact On Cruise Travellers

This change may disappoint numerous cruise travellers. Previously, they could step off the ship and immediately stroll to Barcelona’s iconic La Rambla. Now, they’ll have to dock at the more distant southern port, primarily used by larger vessels like those from Royal Caribbean. From there, reaching the city centre would necessitate a shuttle bus or taxi, as it’s a considerable distance on foot.

Lluis Salvado, the Port of Barcelona’s president, emphasised that this wasn’t a rash move. ‘The plan to move ships was not an “arbitrary decision”’, he stated. He further highlighted that this had been the ‘work of years’ to curtail ’emissions’ for the city’s inhabitants.

Addressing Overtourism Concerns

This decision is a segment of a broader strategy to mitigate the effects of cruise tourism in Barcelona. The city has witnessed demonstrations and rising apprehensions about overtourism and environmental degradation. A common grievance among locals is that cruise tourists contribute little economically but exacerbate crowding.

Barcelona isn’t alone in its efforts. Other cities, including Venice, Amsterdam, and Santorini, have also imposed similar cruise ship constraints. The challenge of overtourism plagues many of Europe’s prime destinations.

France, for instance, recently initiated a drive to promote its lesser-visited sites. Some visitors have lamented feeling like ‘herded cattle’ at France’s major attractions, with one even vowing never to revisit Mont St Michel due to the overwhelming crowds.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.