Between the 1970s and the early years of the 21st century, Palma had regular maritime services that provided facilities such as lounge bars, cafeterias, à la carte restaurants, swimming pools, solariums, discos or cinemas for passengers onboard.
There was fierce competition between Trasmediterránea, Ybarra and Aznar at that time and ships were advertised as 'hotels at sea’ with the aim of encouraging people to enjoy the voyage.
But the exponential growth of freight transport coupled with the liberalisation of operations and operating costs, put an end to luxury passenger ferries.
'Ropax' type ships designed mainly for cargo took over the bulk of activity, unlike other European countries where ferries operate as small cruise ships for short crossings.
But this summer three ferries have returned to the docks of Palma that bring back a touch of luxury.
The ‘Tinamar Volcano’, by Naviera Armas and the ‘Martín i Soler’ and ‘Bahama Mama’, by Baleària all cater to the comfort of passengers and two of them connect Majorca and Ibiza with Denia and Barcelona.
The ban on cruise ships because of the coronavirus pandemic means these ferries were the only boats that were operating during the high season in Palma and all of them had the necessary health and safety regulations in place.
It's an initiative that many want to see continue and promoted with incentives to help Palma recover its traditional ferry services. Ideally a service that’s comparable to Italy and Greece, two nations with strong maritime roots that share the Mediterranean.
Since the 1970’s the Baltic countries have been equated with the best cruises.