Members of the Platform Against Mega-Cruise Ships. | Pilar Pellicer

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Balearic government spokesperson and tourism minister, Iago Negueruela, has defended the agreement with the CLIA Cruise Lines International Association for a limit of three ships per day in Palma. On Monday, he rejected criticisms by Més and Podemos at Palma town hall, who argue that the measure is insufficient and want the Spanish government to impose tougher limits and allow only one cruise ship per day.

“Without this agreement, in the summer there would be six or seven ships. Is that what they would prefer?" Negueruela insisted that it is much more effective to "work through dialogue" with cruise operators in order to achieve self-regulation.

The minister said that he could understand wanting to ask the Spanish government to set limits, but added that Més and Podemos in Palma should appreciate that, so long as the government doesn't intervene, it is "more effective" to work with the cruise industry and agree limits. "The alternative would be days with five, six or seven ships, and that is not sustainable for the city. The agreement is more than sufficient and is one arrived at through dialogue in order to facilitate this type of tourism."

A criticism of the agreement is that it is "voluntary" in that the Balearic government doesn't have powers to impose limits. It can only arrive at limits through negotiation with the cruise operators. As Palma is a state port, the powers ultimately lie with Madrid.

On Monday, members of the Platform Against Mega-Cruise Ships staged a protest against the arrival of Wonder of the Seas by going out on a traditional ship, the Rafael Verdera, in order to highlight the sheer size of the Royal Caribbean ship.