BALEARIC ports are getting ready for the start of the Mediterranean cruise season with cruise holidays in the UK more popular than ever.
With cruises, especially those in the Mediterranean more affordable, ports like Palma in particular, have been reaping the rewards of the cruise boom.
Last year, Palma handled 744'974 cruise passengers, slightly up on the previous year, and this year, the port authority is confident the capital will enjoy a further increase in cruise liner passengers.
In 2003, the number of Britons going on a cruise holiday breached the one million benchmark and this year is going to prove no exception according to the Passenger Shipping Association.
Over the past decade, the number of Britons taking a cruise holiday has in fact quadrupled.
However, the Mediterranean is attracting new markets - for the first time ever carnival cruises will have its own mega-liner Carnival Liberty operating in the Mediterranean to specifically cater for the US market. UK operator P&O is launching its new super-liner Arcadia which, according to its voyage schedule, will make her debut visit to Palma during her maiden voyage towards the end of April.
The Arcadia, which P&O describe as the largest cruise ship dedicated exclusively to British passengers, will join the fleet early next month. Apart from being more affordable, the image of cruising has changed and people are waking up to the new era, according to the Passenger Shipping Association.
The new cruise ships are floating luxury hotel resorts with every conceivable facility available on board.
Sadly though, for the moment, Cunard does not include Palma as a port of call on any of its Mediterranean cruises for the Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth II.
Both liners will be coming in to the Med. over the summer, but for the time being, by-passing Palma.
The Queen Mary 2 visited Palma on her maiden voyage last Spring and returned in October causing a massive sensation on both visits.
Nevertheless, there are going to be plenty of other cruise liners heading for Palma in their wake.
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