Cruise Ships and Urban Mobility in Mediterranean Spain

Cruise Ships and Urban Mobility in Mediterranean Spain

Alejandro L. Grindlay* Sergio Martínez-Hornos

Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Granada, Spain

Available online: 
| Citation



Prior to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the tourist industry and, in particular, its cruise shipping element, was one the leading economic sectors of the Spanish economy. Traditionally, port terminals specializing in cruise shipping generated localized traffic peaks that impacted on the management of urban mobility in port cities, and this created a major difficulty in the city-port relationship. The health crisis caused by COVID-19 has had a very strong impact on the cruise sector which reached its maximum in the volume of passengers in 2019 and practically disappeared during the following year, with reduction rates higher than ninety percent. Through indicators analysis, this paper will examine the impacts of cruise shipping on urban mobility in Spanish Mediterranean port cities (Alicante, Almeria, Barcelona, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca, Tarragona and Valencia), and on the mobility planning measures proposed and developed to mitigate these impacts. Due to data availability, the year 2018 will be considered to evaluate the general impact of cruise traffic on urban population and urban mobility characteristics. With an expected stabilization of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Spanish tourist industry and the associated cruise shipping activity face the greatest challenge in their history: reactivation. International sanitary measures and mass vaccination are allowing a new normality to emerge. Therefore, the reopening of services associated with the cruise shipping industry is starting to be announced, with the appropriate promotion of public policies, in order to achieve the sector’s revitalization. This expected return to pre-pandemic figures for cruise shipping traffic is a challenging scenario in Spanish Mediterranean port-cities, where the indicated measures and new urban mobility management for the future should be explored and considered.


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