Barcelona to limit cruise ships to tackle overtourism

Cruise ship numbers are being limited in Barcelona (Getty Images)
Cruise ship numbers are being limited in Barcelona (Getty Images)

Barcelona is set to reduce the number of cruise ships that can call at its central port in a bid to tackle overtourism.

The number of ships able to dock at any one time will be cut from 10 to seven.

Certain piers will also be completely off limits in the central port to help decrease pollution, such as the city’s Muelle Barcelona Norte northern docks and the World Trade Centre, with cruise ships told to stop at the southern port instead.

The move is aimed at lowering exhaust gases near the city centre, reports Cruise Industry News.

Passengers will have to take 30-minute shuttle buses from the piers that remain open into the city centre.

The new rules are expected to come into affect from 22 October.

The decision to limit cruise ships has been on the cards for some time.

Barcelona’s Mayor Ada Colau first pledged to cap the number of cruise ships in the city in 2019, telling El Pais: “There are thousands of people who arrive at once. Most of them stay for just a few hours and are highly concentrated in the downtown area. They generate a feeling of collapse.”

The Catalonian capital is following in the footsteps of a number of destinations which have tried to curb overtourism through restricting cruise ships.

In Venice, large cruise ships were banned from the Venice lagoon back in 2021.

The government decided to act after Unesco warned the Italian city could be placed on a blacklist for not banning liners from the World Heritage Site.

Liners weighing more than 25,000 tonnes were barred from the Giudecca Canal, the waterway that goes past Piazza San Marco – one of the city’s most recognisable sites.

Meanwhile, the Croatian city of Dubrovnik decided to cap the number of cruise ships that can dock each day to two, carrying a maximum of 5,000 passengers between them, back in 2019.

More recently, earlier this week cruise passengers were met by a crowd of around 80 protesters as their ship docked in France.

Travellers aboard the World Traveller liner were greeted with shouts of “shame on you”, “go home” and “you’re not welcome” as they arrived into the port of Douarnenez in Brittany on Sunday.

Many of the demonstrators were dressed up as animals, including polar bears and sea lions, as well as Venetian carnival goers, to protest against the environmental impact of cruising. One 25-year old protester said she is fed up with “luxury and expedition trips”.