The Aida Perla in Palma. | Gabriel Alomar

Costa Cruises will start operations in Palma on July 10. This was confirmed by Balearic tourism minister Iago Negueruela at the Fitur international tourism fair in Madrid, who said that there was a meeting regarding cruises in Palma when he and President Armengol went to Berlin recently. This meeting was with Michael Thamm, who is the CEO of Costa Cruises and Carnival Asia - Costa Cruises is part of the American Carnival Corporation.

Negueruela added that the "most important fact is that Palma will be the starting-point for cruises, which will have a very positive impact". "The government has great interest in this because of the tourism and economic effect for the city."

The ship which is scheduled to start operations is the Aida Perla; Aida Cruises is another Carnival division and comes under Costa Cruises. One itinerary will be from Cadiz to Palma via Malaga, Cartagena and Barcelona. The other will be a round trip that starts in Palma, goes to Ibiza, Alicante, Valencia and Barcelona before returning to Palma.

Related news

Pedro Iriondo of the Viajes Kontiki travel agency says that the restart of operations between Spanish ports will be very important. Cruise passengers will mean excursions and benefits for taxi drivers, shops in Palma's centre, suppliers and hotels. Fifteen per cent of the passengers, he observes, will stay two to three days in Palma before embarking on the Aida Perla cruise.

The ship is currently based in the Canaries. It will arrive in Palma in early July. It has capacity for 4,000 passengers, but Covid protocols require a reduction to under 2,000.

TUI Cruises has announced that it wishes to start operations in Palma in mid-June. The Balearic Ports Authority says that this is a stopover request that will need to be confirmed.

Regional administrations, such as the Balearics, have established their own protocols for cruise tourism. They are now awaiting the all-clear from the Spanish government.