Cruise ships will be banned from docking at Barcelona’s most central port from October 22 in a controversial move to reduce emissions close to the city centre.
All cruise ships will be forced to dock at the city’s less central southern port along the Moll Adossat pier, which is currently used by larger cruise ships such as Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean and MSC Cruises.
The city’s ‘Muelle Barcelona Norte’ northern docks and the World Trade Centre area will both be affected by the ban.
It means that tourists will no longer be able to stroll off cruise ships into Barcelona’s historic centre – instead, they’ll have to take a shuttle bus from the dock further south to access the city.
For disembarking passengers, reaching the iconic La Rambla boulevard from the central dock takes just ten minutes by foot. It will take around half an hour by bus from the southern port.
Cruise ships will be banned from docking at Barcelona’s main port (above) from October 22 in a controversial move to reduce exhaust emissions close to the city centre
All cruise ships will be forced to dock at Barcelona’s less central southern port along the Moll Adossat pier (top right)
Barcelona has long been a popular destination for British tourists enjoying a cruise around the Mediterranean.
Visitors are drawn to the city’s sandy beaches and famous landmarks such as the Sagrada Familia and Antoni Gaudi’s Park Guell.
Although the ban does not officially come into force until later this month, the last cruise ship docked at the northern port on October 3.
Lluís Salvado, president of the Port of Barcelona, labelled October 3 as a ‘historic day for the city’.
He added: ‘We are pushing the pollution away, towards the south and reducing the emissions that reach the city.’
A new limit has also been imposed on how many cruise ships can dock at Barcelona’s ports – the number of available docking areas for cruise ships will be reduced from ten to seven on October 22.
The new restrictions have been in the works since 2018 when the municipal government and port authority in Barcelona agreed to regulate cruise ship activity.
What once was a brief ten-minute walk on to the iconic La Rambla boulevard (above) will now be a 30-minute shuttle bus ride for disembarking cruise ship passengers
The agreement stemmed from controversies over increased pressure from tourism on the Catalan capital.
Mr Salvado said: ‘The closure of the Barcelona northern docks for cruise operations is a new step to comply with the agreement signed in 2018 with the Barcelona municipal government to eliminate the negative impact that this activity could produce for citizens. This is a clear demonstration that the Port of Barcelona complies with the agreement.’
There has been a spate of protests against tourism in Barcelona over the past six years.
A tourist bus was notably targeted in 2017, with masked attackers slashing the tyres and spraying ‘tourism kills neighbourhoods’ on its windscreen.
Cruise ships will be forced to dock at Barcelona’s less central southern port, along the Moll Adossat pier, which is currently used by larger cruise ships by lines such as Royal Caribbean (above)
Statements such as ‘tourists go home’ have also been graffitied in the city by anti-tourism groups.
Tourism has also steadily grown since the end of the pandemic. The number of cruise ships arriving in Barcelona increased by 8 per cent in the first half of 2023, compared to the same period in 2019. On average 3.1million people travel through the Port of Barcelona each year.
Mr Salvado explained that the goal is to stabilise, not decrease, the number of people using the port.
Barcelona’s partial ban on cruise ships follows similar measures introduced in other European tourist hotspots.
Venice banned ships from stopping in the Lagoon in 2021 and has since discussed plans to introduce a daily tax for all visitors over the age of 14.
Amsterdam, Santorini and the Orkney Islands have all also implemented or announced plans to limit or ban cruise liners.