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Valencia wants to ban mega cruise ships from 2026

Following the example of American ports such as Juneau, Alaska and Bar Harbor, Maine, one European destination is taking measures to limit cruise traffic. María José Catalá, the mayor of Valencia, Spain, has announced that the Port of Valencia will ban mega cruise ships in 2026.

The news comes shortly after Barcelona, ​​Spain, announced on May 24, 2024 that it would limiting cruise traffic to tackle overcrowding in the city.

While the ban may seem a bit harsh, Mayor Catalá’s position is that mega cruise ships have a negative impact on the environment for Spain’s third largest city – even though new mega ships like Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the seas goods designed with sustainability in mind.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship In ValenciaRoyal Caribbean Cruise Ship In Valencia
Royal Caribbean cruise ship in Valencia (Photo Credit: Jeff Whyte)

The other problem is that mega cruise ships – which are defined as ships that can carry 5,000 or more passengers at a time – simply come with too many crowds.

Tourist overcrowding has been a problem in Valencia for years – and the Spanish cruise port is experiencing an increase in visits from cruise passengers, making matters worse for overwhelmed locals.

Looking ahead to 2025, Valencia expects to welcome around 820,000 cruisers, almost double the 436,000 who visited in 2019.

That said, smaller cruise ships will still be allowed to visit the port, which is positive as it is one of the most sought after destinations in the Mediterranean.

Valencia Port is located on the Poniente Quay, putting guests within walking distance of central Valencia, although many cruise lines do offer shuttle transportation.

Two berths will remain available for medium-sized ships, allowing the city to continue to reap the economic benefits of cruise tourism in a way that promotes the sustainability and quality of life for its approximately 800,000 residents.

How Valencia’s ban will affect cruising

Recently there has been a tremendous growth in the number of cruise lines commissioning new mega-ships, which coincides with Cruises are becoming an increasingly popular way to travel.

But now that these giant ships have been banned from Valencia, cruise lines may have to refocus their efforts to ensure only smaller ships sail in the region, or remove the Spanish port from their itineraries altogether.

Cruise ships docked in Valencia, SpainCruise ships docked in Valencia, Spain
Cruise ships docked in Valencia, Spain (Photo Credit: ODIN Daniel)

While details of the cruise ban have not yet been released, large mega-ships such as Icon of the Seas are definitely a no-go as the largest cruise ship in the world with a maximum capacity of 7,600 guests.

Also read: Top 10 largest cruise ships in the world 2024

That being said, Miracle of the sea, Symphony of the sea, Harmony of the sea, Oasis of the sea, And Allure of the seas can also all accommodate more than 5,000 guests per sailing, which likely falls under what Valencia would classify as a mega cruise ship. In 2026, Royal Caribbean has already scheduled Harmony of the Seas to visit the city in January of that year.

MSC Cruises currently has two ships ready to visit Valencia, including the 2,500-passenger MSC Magnifica and the much larger 4,888-passenger MSC Virtuosa.

P&O Cruises, that is both owned by Carnival CorporationLarge ships will also call at the port in 2026. ArviaOwned by P&O Cruises, it launched in 2022 and can accommodate up to 5,200 passengers.

Cruise ship docked in ValenciaCruise ship docked in Valencia

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