Over 10 Million Cruise Passengers Visit Spanish Ports In 2018

Spain has now reached an incredible level within the global cruise tourism context, and for the first time in its history has welcomed over 10 million cruise ship passengers. This figure places Spain second in Europe for the number of cruise passengers, with several Spanish ports leading the European ranking and even listed among the world’s top 50 ports, as is the case of the ports of Barcelona, the Balearic and Canary Islands, Malaga, Valencia, Cadiz, Cartagena and Vigo. For this reason, Puertos del Estado are using their presence in Fitur to highlight the significance of cruise tourism and water sports for this country’s productive economy.

In the last 25 years, the volume of cruise passengers has multiplied by 18, from just over 480,000 visitors in 1992 to the above-mentioned 10 million in 2018.

According to the experts agree our country still has a major potential for growth. Therefore, factors like deseasonalization, diversification of destinations, consolidating our ports for embarking/disembarking, together with dropping costs for both air and sea transport, have resulted in increased affordability of cruises for a large segment of the population, with highly competitive prices and a great variety of services.

cruise ship 2
Representation Image – Credits: Sudhai Hazell

The situation also applies to scheduled services, which have also seen a progressive increase in tourists year after year. In 2018 there was a total of 26 million passengers using scheduled services, a 4% increase over the previous year. Although the majority of scheduled services are between the Spanish Mainland and North Africa and the Spanish Islands, there has been a significant increase in passengers using the routes between Spain and Italy, the United Kingdom and Ireland.


The importance of the ports and cruise tourism as a driving force for Spain’s economic activity cannot be denied. The contribution of the cruise industry is of great importance for our economy, as the volume of business generated in Spain amounts to over €1,255 million euros, generating employment (direct, indirect and induced) for over 26,400 people and accounting for 10.9% of the GDP for the domestic tourism industry. Cruise tourism also promotes other regions within the country, including inland tourism.


As well as services for cruise ships, the extraordinary facilities available in Spanish ports enable visitors to enjoy yacht marinas and water sports with the official Ports providing a total of around 30,000 berths. These water-sports areas in our ports are ideal for the transition between public areas and commercial ports, an essential feature for the suitable management and overlapping of the city’s and the port’s interests.

According to the latest reports, water sports activities (building, repairs, associated industries and services) represent approximately 0.7% of national GDP and employ over 110,000 people, directly and indirectly. In a word, a sector which occupies a really important place in Spain’s economic development and with strong links to another key sector for our economy which is tourism and leisure.

Another feature which has a long tradition in surrounding countries is the possibility of accommodation in the 187 lighthouses all around the Spanish coast. This has enabled the Ministry of Public Works and Transport and the Spanish Port Authority to promote the social value of lighthouses and their historical and technical legacy via the “SPANISH LIGHTHOUSES” project, as well as raising their status after falling into disuse as a result of automation.

Reference: puertos.es

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