Tourists, with Mein Schiff 2 in the background. | Pilar Pellicer

The return of cruise passengers to Palma on Thursday made virtually no difference to bars, restaurants and shops. There were just the 200, and they were subject to strict protocols which meant that they couldn't go where they liked.

For shops in the centre of Palma, it is said that cruise passenger spending would normally equate to 50% of turnover. The president of the Afedeco retailers association, Antoni Gayá, says that things need to be made easier so that cruise passengers can buy in the city's shops. "It doesn't make sense that tourists arriving by plane can walk, shop and go to restaurants without restrictions, while those who arrive by cruise ship cannot. What was the point of the tourism minister welcoming them, if they were then not allowed to buy?"

Related news

His counterpart from the Pimeco association, Antoni Fuster, says that Palma shops and restaurants are "safe spaces". Despite the lack of business on Thursday, he was optimistic about the return of cruise ships. "It's a symbol that there is recovery and that we are getting closer to normality."

Mein Schiff 2 will be calling every week until July 15. The ship's captain, Tom Roth, met the tourism minister, Iago Negueruela, on Thursday and outlined the safety protocols on the ship. There is a full medical service; the temperatures of passengers and crew are taken daily; and all passengers have two negative tests before going on board, if they have not been vaccinated.

The first cruise ship for fifteen months has revived the debate about limitations. Negueruela said on Thursday that at no time has there ever been any suggestion that there should be no cruise ships. Welcoming the reactivation of cruise tourism, he observed, was not at odds with the debate about limitations. He added that there will only be a few ships this summer. The Balearic Ports Authority says that, for now, only two other ships have been authorised, and these are for July 6 and July 10.