Next year Barcelona will be the turnaround port for the world’s largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean’s the Allure of the Seas, a vessel measuring 361 metres in length with a capacity for 6,318 people (equal to the entire population of the Catalan village of Tremp).
This Oasis-class cruise ship, the sister of the Oasis of the Seas (which this year will also visit the Catalan capital) will set sail 25 times from Barcelona. This will be the first time that this cruise ship has visited Europe – up to now she has cruised exclusively around the Caribbean from her base in Port Lauderdale. 158,000 passengers will visit the Port of Barcelona on board the Allure of the Seas, and they will spend 17.5 million EUR in the city. The operations will be performed simultaneously via Terminals B and C, to ensure maximum comfort and speed.
“The choice of Barcelona as a base for the Allure of the Seas for the entire 2015 season is a challenge for the large scale of operations that the ship will be making, but it also helps to consolidate Barcelona as the leader in the European and Mediterranean cruise sector” said Sixte Cambra, president of Barcelona Port Authority.
At a joint press conference, Belén Wangüemert, CEO of Royal Caribbean in Spain and France, highlighted the enormous boost that the arrival of a vessel of this type represents for tourism and for business directly linked to cruise activity, involving a full range of port services and supplies. Specifically, Belén Wangüemert said that 158,000 passengers are expected to pass through the Port of Barcelona in the vessel’s turnaround operations (start and end of the cruise), contributing 17.5 million EUR to the city’s economy.
This estimate is based on the latest study from Barcelona Tourist Board, which has calculated that cruise passengers in turnaround spend an average of 113 EUR, but this is not the only impact the Allure of the Seas will cause on the local economy. Wealth creation also includes business generated by ship supplies (food, fuel, water and all kinds of consumer products); services and port fees; the benefit in tourist terms of bringing passengers to Barcelona from all over the world; or the positive impact it has on the international image of the capital of Catalonia.
The head of Royal Caribbean in Spain has confirmed that the Allure of the Seas stands out not only for her size – equivalent to more than three football pitches or three blocks of Barcelona’s Eixample district – but because of the high level of innovation and extensive offer of facilities, which include a natural park with more than 12,000 real plants, an outdoor water amphitheatre and a pool and beach on the high seas.
Sixte Cambra pointed out that Barcelona is the only Mediterranean port with appropriate facilities to handle large-scale operations for vessels such as the Allure of the Seas, with more than 12,000 passengers embarking and disembarking daily (6,300 in each operation). To ensure that these run smoothly and efficiently, Terminals B and C, managed by Creuers del Port de Barcelona (Port of Barcelona Cruises) and located on Adossat wharf, will provide service to the Royal Caribbean vessel simultaneously.
Mr Cambra stressed that Barcelona is well prepared to host these operations thanks to infrastructure investments valued at over 100 million EUR undertaken in recent years by the Port and private operators, but also thanks to the professionalism of the Port Community and all the stakeholders associated with the cruise industry in the city. “The international terminals run by Port of Barcelona Cruises are especially functional and have been designed to suit the needs of the market in terms of the size and capacity of ships. Therefore we are well equipped to handle large-scale embarking and disembarking operations with the highest levels of safety, security and efficiency,” he added.
This year, the busiest day in passenger terms will be 18 May, with the arrival of 31,534 tourists at the Port. The busiest weekend for passenger arrivals will be from 12 and 14 September, with more than 57,700 tourists arriving in Barcelona.
Last year, the Port of Barcelona received a total of 2.6 million passengers, an increase of 8% year on year and equal to the record high of 2011. Nearly 60% of passengers were in turnaround, in other words they began and/or ended their journey in the city. Passengers in this mode contribute the most to the local economy, since they spend more in the city, mainly in hotels, restaurants, shops and transport.
The Allure of the Seas is scheduled to arrive in Barcelona in May 2015, and will operate there until mid-October. During that time, she will make one short cruise and 22 seven-night circuits with itineraries that will include visits to the ports of Palma de Mallorca, Marseille, La Spezia (Florence- Pisa), Civitavecchia (Rome) and Naples. In addition she will also make two transatlantic trips, at the beginning and end of the season.
Royal Caribbean has been operating at the Port of Barcelona since 1996, when the company brought its Splendour of the Seas cruise ship here. Ms Wangüemert pointed out that vessels from the Royal Caribbean fleet have been based in the city or have made stopovers there for 18 years: “The arrival of the Oasis and Allure of the Seas confirms Royal Caribbean’s commitment to Barcelona, which has established its role as a key port for our company.”