Cruise ships in Palma. | Jaume Morey

“Historic” was how the Balearic Minister for Tourism, Iago Negueruela, described the agreement reached between the Balearic government and the world’s major cruise lines in Hamburg last weekend to introduce limits on the number of cruise ships at any one time in the Port of Palma.

Negueruela has been trying to get a grip on the cruise industry for at least the past two years, like a dog with a bone. But, while it appears that the cruise lines have signed up to the agreement, at the end of the day the Port of Palma is controlled by the State Port Authority in Madrid, not the Balearic government so the judicial validity of the agreement has been thrown into doubt. Plus, those for and against cruise ships have criticised the minister for not having gone far enough and for damaging the local economy, especially in the low season.

Even members of his own left-wing coalition have shed doubts on the deal. Some have admitted it is a step in the right direction, but there is still a long way to go - in particular getting the stamp of approval from Madrid which is highly unlikely because of the revenue which pours into Madrid from Palma’s cruise industry. The cruise lines may well decided to cut back on their visits to Palma, but that could also cost them money in the long run. So I guess the truth will be in the Christmas pudding.