THIS year may be shaping up to be one of the busiest in the history of the Port of Palma with a record demand for berths from the cruise industry, but next year is looking to be even stronger.

Carnival cruises have already announced that their newest liner is going to be based in Barcelona and calling into Palma on its regular summer Mediterranean cruises and now the Norwegian Cruise Line has followed in its wake.

This week, NCL, announced that it is going to base its 4'200-passenger Norwegian Epic in the Western Mediterranean in 2011 and Palma is also going to feature on its cruises.

The Mediterranean led the Cruise Lines International Association list of hot destinations in a study released at the end of last month and, as a result, some of the world's largest cruise lines are moving into Spain and the Balearics next year.

The $1 billion-plus mega Norwegian Epic, which starts sailing out of Miami in July, will sail a seven-day western Mediterranean itinerary out of Barcelona from May to October 2011.

The Norwegian Epic's Mediterranean ports of call include Florence/Pisa (Livorno); Rome (Civitavecchia); Naples, Italy; and Palma.
Royal Caribbean, Princess and Holland America are among the other lines capitalizing on the Mediterranean trend.