The MSC Grandiosa in the Port of Palma. | Majorca Daily Bulletin reporter - G. ALOMAR

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MSC Cruises, which is the third-largest cruise company in the world after Carnival Corporation and the Royal Caribbean Group, announced in Palma that, as a result of the restrictions on cruise ships being introduced in the Port of Palma, it is setting its sights on more ports of call in Ibiza and Minorca.

The Director General of MSC Cruises in Spain, Fernando Pacheco, said that the cruise line is not ruling out increasing its operations in Ibiza and Minorca because of the new rules and regulations which will limit the number of cruise ships in Palma.


As a result of the so-called Hamburg Agreement reached between the Balearic government and the cruise industry last December, which has yet to be ratified by central government as it controls state ports in Spain, as of this year only one mega cruise ship, one carrying over 5,000 passengers, will be allowed to dock in Palma per day while the number of cruise ships carrying over 500 passengers will be limited to just three per day.


The movement against mega cruises would like to see the Balearic government go even further and restrict the number of cruise passengers in Palma at any given time to 8.500 - that said, Madrid could scupper the whole agreement. However, in the meantime, Pacheco said that MSC “always respects governmental decisions”.


But the director general was quick to stress that Majorca is a “paradise for the cruise industry” adding that MSC will always use the Port of Palma as a destination as much as possible.


Nevertheless, with the Port of Palma restrictions hanging over the industry, Pacheco said that the Balearics as a whole is an extremely interesting and exciting destination for cruise passengers and that the cruise line is studying the viability of increasing its operations in Ibiza and Minorca.


Pacheco explained that MSC has been reviewing its operations ever since the pandemic struck and the cruise line had already decided to have greater presence in Ibiza and Minorca this summer prior to the Hamburg Agreement.


MSC has recently launched a new luxury cruise operation and Pacheco said that the Balearics is the perfect destination for its new clients.


Pacheco said that the Spanish market is going to be more important this year than in 2019 and for that reason MSC is going to have a total of nine cruise ships based in Spanish ports such as Palma, Barcelona, Malaga, Valencia and Alicante while calling in to a total of 15 Spanish ports during its cruises.


With regards to Covid, he said that certain controls on passengers are likely to remain in place to ensure the maximum comfort, safety and security for crew and passengers.
Maximum capacity on its cruises will be capped at 70 percent and MSC is working closely with all the various governments with regards to making the process as easy as possible for passengers disembarking in ports of call.


Pacheco also highlighted MSC Group’s Cruise Division’s commitment to join the Green Marine Europe Label, becoming the first major global cruise company to join this voluntary environmental certification programme for the maritime industry.
Following the success of Green Marine’s North American environmental certification programme, the European initiative was launched in 2020 to create a mechanism that supports ship owners in demonstrating their environmental performance.


MSC said that joining the initiative will support its Cruise Division’s pledge to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.