Tourism is looking forward to leaving behind the coronavirus pandemic and the catastrophic consequences for the sector. That is why cruise companies go one step further and expand their range of operations in Spainthe figure is comparable this year to that of 2019 or may even exceed it, thanks to the recovery in demand and given the opportunity to fill the gap left by the disappeared Pullmantur, which has not managed to survive the pandemic. A) Yes, MSC Cruises plans to move this year to 120,000 passengers in Spanish portswhich means exceeding the volume of before the pandemic by 20%, due to the improvement in demand and the “extra” bet that the shipping company has made for Spain as a cruise destination.
Sources from the shipping company have highlighted in statements to Efe that MSC has scheduled more than 400 stops this year in the country, 2% more than in 2019, with nine different ships and with shipments in six Spanish ports (Alicante, Barcelona, Valencia, Palma de Mallorca, Tenerife and Malaga). For other major shipping lines, Costa Cruises, 2022 is the year in which more ships operate in Spaina total of three, with two base ports, which are Barcelona, for its Costa Firenze and Costa Smeralda ships, and Valencia, for the Costa Toscana, the newest in its fleet, according to company sources.
According to the director for Spain of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), Alfredo Serrano, the offer in Spain is comparable or may even exceed that of 2019 by the companies that sell in the Spanish market because, among other reasons, “they see the opportunity to be able to fill the gap” of the Pullmantur ravine. Serrano has indicated to Efe that there is “greater interest” on the part of certain companies to have more base ports in Spain and open new routes, with which, he understands, “we want to facilitate access to those customers who could possibly come from the sadly defunct Pullmantur”. Although the profile of the cruise passenger who decides to travel with MSC “differs slightly” from that of Pullmantur, “even so, we understand that we have naturally captured some of the clients that the company had and who may be interested in our Mediterranean itineraries” , they explain from the shipping company.
MSC will not raise its prices
Given the rise in fuel prices as a result of the war in Ukraine, the shipping company assures that it is “financially strong”, mainly due to the financial security that being part of the MSC group provides. Although the company has not noticed too many changes in purchasing behavior as a result of the geopolitical situation, and sales remain the same as you had estimatedconsiders it “essential” to protect the traveler in order to wake up the market, so will bear the cost of fuel and won’t raise prices. “In fact, currently, our cruises are traveling with more competitive prices and a more attractive offer than in 2019,” MSC stressed.
Regarding the difficulties of finding workers that some sectors such as tourism suffer from, the CLIA director explained that that of cruise ships is not affected because one of the advantages it has is that its recruitment is global and does not depend on a nationality. However, he has clarified that although the problem is not affecting them in a specific way at the moment, there were some difficulties before Covid-19 because the cruise industry has grown a lot.
Limit number of cruise ships in port
Precisely this growth began to cause alarm in some destinations, blaming to the tourist mass sector and from pollution. Concern that has recently returned to the debate in Barcelona at the hands of its mayor, Ada Colau, and after CLIA and the main shipping companies, including MSC and Costa, signed the memorandum of understanding with the Balearic Government by which until 2026 in the port of Palma only three cruises a day will be able to coincide.
For Serrano, the agreement in the Balearic Islands, which has been the result of several years’ work, is “very positive” and is “an example of good dispositiondialogue, collaboration and working together in order to achieve a better experience for the resident and for the cruise passenger”. However, in the case of Barcelona, ”on the one hand, Colau recognizes for the first time that the responsibility of the air pollution in the city corresponds to road traffic and not to cruise ships and asks for a calm debate on the subject and based on data, but, immediately afterwards, says that what you have to do is limit “.
So, -in Serrano’s opinion- “there is no debate because you are already providing the conclusion and the data seems to matter little to you.” In addition, arguments are often used that are not true, such as “there has been a growth huge in the number of cruise passengers, we would like to. We are still far below the figures from before the pandemic and it will cost a lot to recover them”, he added. Regarding pollution, he recalled that the port of Barcelona itself has a very advanced project for the electrification of cruise ship docks that will mean zero pollution. “The ships will be able to arrive, turn off their engines and connect to the shore network.”