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The port of Palamós will receive more luxury cruises this season but may still lose 20,000 passengers

The port of Palamós on the Costa Brava will receive more luxury cruises this season, but will also lose almost 20,000 passengers compared to 2015. Although the number of cruise liners stopping at the Catalan coastal town will not vary substantially, there will be a decline in the number of passengers due to the fact that the two cruise ships with the greatest capacity, the Thomson Dream and the Island Escape, will not dock this season. The former has changed its route to the Caribbean, while the latter has been sent to the scrapyard. The president of Ports of Catalonia, Ricard Font, says that this decline is not a “major concern” because it responds to “objective reasons” and that the port of Palamós is still highly valued. Proof of this, he points out, is that 59% of the companies that will dock from now until November are luxury cruise liners that carry passengers coming to spend three times more money than conventional cruise travellers. In 2016 the port will also open the maritime station, which has been remodelled and is almost ready for when Palamós becomes an external border within the Schengen zone.

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06 May 2016 03:50 PM

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Xavier Pi / Lourdes Casademont / Andrea Massot

Palamós (CNA).- The port of Palamós on the Costa Brava will receive more luxury cruises this season, but will also lose almost 20,000 passengers compared to 2015. Although the number of cruise liners stopping at the Catalan coastal town will not vary substantially, there will be a decline in the number of passengers due to the fact that the two cruise ships with the greatest capacity, the Thomson Dream and the Island Escape, will not dock this season. The former has changed its route to the Caribbean, while the latter has been sent to the scrapyard. The president of Ports of Catalonia, Ricard Font, says that this decline is not a “major concern” because it responds to “objective reasons” and that the port of Palamós is still highly valued. Proof of this, he points out, is that 59% of the companies that will dock from now until November are luxury cruise liners that carry passengers coming to spend three times more money than conventional cruise travellers. In 2016 the port will also open the maritime station, which has been remodelled and is almost ready for when Palamós becomes an external border within the Schengen zone.


Palamós recently opened the 2016 cruise season with the arrival of the Journey Azamara line, a luxury ship that reached the Catalan port from Ibiza. On board, there is capacity for about 650 passengers, mainly Australian, and for 400 crew members. It is the third consecutive year that the Azamara Journey, which belongs to an American company, docks at Palamós.

Palamós, a break from traffic and noise

Some passengers shared their reasons for choosing this trip with a stop on the Costa Brava. They explained that they like to visit smaller cities, such as Palamós, which they have not visited before. “We enjoy the calm and the people, we want to walk down the streets and visit the stores”, said Denise, a tourist from Australia. John, also Australian, plans to visit the market and to walk around the old town centre. “We have been around the world, but now we prefer to see small towns like Palamós, to know the culture and get a rest from traffic and noise”, he revealed.

With the arrival of the Azamara Journey, Palamós has kicked off a cruise season which will last until November and that will be less intense than last year. Not so much regarding the number of ships stopping at the coastal town, a total of 30, just five less than in 2015, but rather due to the decline in the number of cruise passengers. From the 40,000 travellers who came last year, this year the number of travellers will drop to 23,000.

Rerouting and scrapping

The president of Ports de la Generalitat highlighted that this decline is due to “objective” reasons and is not the result of companies undervaluing Palamós as a tourist destination. The decrease in passengers docking at the port can be explained by the absence of two cruise ships that in previous years had an average capacity of 10,000 travellers each.

The first of these is the Thomson Dream, which used to alternate routes between the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, but that this year will just navigate the Atlantic. The second ship is the Island Escape, which has stopped sailing because it has been sent to scrap.

Ricard Font explained that, despite the substantial drop in cruise passengers, the situation does not concern him “particularly”. Especially considering that, until 2017, the prospects for the future are positive. \"We hope that the company recovers the Island Escape route with a new boat, and we have no doubt that the Thomson Dream, when it restarts the Mediterranean route, will once again stop in Palamós\", he explained.

More luxury cruises

Despite the decline in cruise passengers, this 2016 season offers a flipside to the coin. The port of Palamós will receive more luxury cruises. Ricard Font highlighted that even though these cruises carry fewer passengers - the average is between 400 and 600 - they have a much higher purchasing power.

\"We estimate that each of them can spend two or three times more money than conventional cruise passengers and, in average, we are talking about 120 and 180 euros per person”, pointed out the president of the Catalan Government Ports. “Ultimately, we want to attract tourists that have an economic impact on the territory”, Font added.

The president explained that the tourist appeal of the port of Palamós is also evident for those cruisers that will be docking for the first time. In total, this year eight ships will stop for the first time at the Costa Brava town, namely the Seven Seas Navigator, the Seven Seas Explorer, Nautica, Marina, the Artana, Discovery Thomson, Thomson Majesty and the Saga Sapphire.

Remodelled maritime facilities

This 2016 the port of Palamós also opens its new maritime facilities, which have been remodelled in order to adapt them to the requirements for becoming an external Schengen border. Renovation work has expanded the port building, which has grown from 165 to 255 square meters, and includes a new porch.

So far, work on the exterior part of the building is over and the tasks are now focused on the distribution of interior space. The internal part of the building has to be adapted for the segregation of passengers according to their origin and has to provide offices for the police. The president of the Ports of the Catalan Government explained that this second phase of the remodelling will be completed “within weeks”, since they have already received the instructions and requirements from the Spanish Ministry of Interior. Font also pointed out that Palamós is already promoting its image at international fairs as a Schengen stop, which means that authorisation is just around the corner, especially among British and American contacts. “In the future these contacts could also result in more stops off at Palamós”, he concluded

 

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  • The Azamara Journey, which belongs to an American company, in Palamós (by L.Casademont)