Construction of a new cruise terminal is underway at the Tarragona Cruise Port, a popular port just south of Barcelona. The project is intended to prepare the port for future growth and is seen as a boon to the tourism economy of Spain’s Catalonia region.
Terminal Slated to Open in Spring 2024
The Tarragona Cruise Port announced that work has started on a $6 million cruise terminal at the port’s Balears Wharf, where four cruise ship berths receive some of the world’s largest vessels, since the docks have no length and draft limitations.
Located roughly an hour from Barcelona by train or car, the port is well-positioned for excursions to the Mediterranean city. However, Tarragona itself is a cultural treasure, due to its Roman Empire-era heritage and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Plans to build a new cruise terminal emerged last year after Global Ports Holdings was contracted to operate the port. The terminal will be constructed on a half-acre site as a modular building, with the manufacturing happening off-site. Once the modules are constructed, they will be transported to the port and assembled.
The terminal was designed for eco-efficiency, including using renewable energy to limit its environmental impact, and is estimated to open in spring 2024. The design includes advanced security measures as well as accessible spaces to accommodate cruise guests with reduced mobility. Additionally, its design provides flexibility and the capacity for expansion as market demand grows.
In 2022, the cruise ship wharf underwent a $32 million upgrade involving various port infrastructure projects, with the port authority investing in adding electrification to the cruise quay in an effort to substantially reduce emissions from docked ships.
Major Cruise Lines Call at Tarragona Port
The Tarragona Cruise Port welcomed 35 ships and 64,470 cruise guests, in 2022. In pre-pandemic 2019 it saw 63 cruise ship visits and 128,089 cruisers.
In summer 2023, several of the major lines will call at the port, including MSC Cruises’ 2,500-guest MSC Magnifica, Costa Cruises’ 3,470-guest Costa Fortuna and 5,322-guest Costa Fascinosa, and Oceania Cruises’ Oceania Marina, carrying 1,250 guests.
The port this summer also will host smaller ships and luxury vessels such as Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ 490-guest Seven Seas Navigator and 706-guest Seven Seas Voyager.
Cruise guests whose ships call at Tarragona can access Barcelona by train, and cruise ships often offer shore excursions to the city as well. Those who opt to explore Tarragona will find that its attractions include many Roman ruins, such as the Amphitheater Roma, a 2nd-century arena; the Necropolis, containing Roman tombs; the remains of a 1st-century Roman circus; and a set of ramparts that provide views of the city.
Tarragona’s old town is known for its medieval history with its narrow alleyways and streets dotted with cafes and shops, and its 12th century cathedral.
MSC Cruises Focusing on Spanish Ports
Earlier this year, MSC Cruises announced that more of its 2023 Europe cruises would focus on Spain’s Mediterranean coast, making 500 port calls to Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante, Malaga, Cádiz, and Tarragona.
The cruise line’s decision to feature Spanish ports followed double-digit growth in the market in 2022. In fact, the line’s new MSC World Europa will homeport in Barcelona this summer. The ship entered service in the fall of 2022 following her christening in Qatar.
MSC Cruises’ port call schedule reflects a 23% increase in visits to Spain. Tarragona port operator Global Ports Holding controls 27 cruise ports in 14 countries and has seen considerable growth in recent years.
It runs major ports such as the Port of Nassau, Bahamas, as well as small, up-and-coming ports like Prince Rupert Cruise Port in British Columbia. It recently was contracted to operate the San Juan Cruise Port, in Puerto Rico.