By Humphrey Carter

PALMA
BALEARIC cruise passengers figures are currently on course to break all previous records.
The APB, Balearic Port Authority, reported yesterday that during the first six months of this year, the region's main cruise ports handled a total of 547'764 passengers, 22 percent more than during the first half of last year.

The biggest increase in cruise passenger traffic has been experienced in Palma.
The capital's port has handled 193 cruise ship visits this year already, 21 percent more than during the first six months of last year, and 474'929 passengers, just over 30 percent more than between January and the end of June, 2009.

The present data points to a 31.2 percent increase in cruise ship traffic to Palma by the end of this year and a record 1.2 million passengers, an all time record. The Port of Palma first broke the one million cruise passenger barrier in 2009.

As far as the APB is concerned, a host of records such as the number of cruise ships, cruise passengers and the tonnage of the ships are going to be broken in the Balearics this year.

Over the course of the year, Balearic cruise ports are expecting to handle 779 cruise liners, 22 percent more than during last year and it is not only Palma which is enjoying the boom.

MINORCA DECLINE
Ibiza is set for a year-on-year 15 percent increase in cruise ships and a six percent rise in the number of passengers to just under 53'000.
However, Minorca has let the side down.
Mahon has suffered a 45 percent drop in the number of cruise ships putting into the Minorcan port so far this year but, the forecast for July, August and September are far more encouraging and should lift end of year figures to 111 total cruise ship visits, which will represent only a slight decrease of 1.77 percent in cruise line traffic in comparison to last year.

May has been the biggest month of the year so far with a total 91 cruise ships putting into Balearic ports, 65 of those in Palma.
85 cruise ships called into Balearic ports during June, 58 of those in Palma.
Last year, the cruise industry generated some 93 million euros for the local economy with, according to APB calculations, each cruise passenger spending 62.5 euros per day which, considering they are not having to pay for their accommodation, is a considerable amount of money, the Balearic Minister for Tourism underlined.

However, this year there have been complaints from passengers and operators about the lack of information in the cruise port, in particular about transport into the city centre.

Cruise passengers arriving for the day on Sundays are also left disappointed when they find that the shops and most of the restaurants are closed in Palma,. fueling the debate over actually how many cruise passengers come ashore.

US CRUISE LINES
Nevertheless, in 2011 the Balearics, in particular the Port of Palma, is braced for a major increase in international cruise business with the arrival of the major US cruise lines.

Recent market reports have concluded that the Mediterranean is going to be the growth area next year and many of the world's leading cruise lines are going to be either operating their super liners out of Palma or at least including them in their ships' regular Mediterranean cruise itineraries.

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