Following in the footsteps of US ports like Juneau, Alaska, and Bar Harbor, Maine, a 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 begin banning mega cruise ships in 2026. 

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

While the ban may seem a bit harsh, Mayor Catalá’s stance is that mega cruise ships pose a negative environmental impact to Spain’s third-largest city – even though new mega-ships like Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas were designed with sustainability in mind.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship In Valencia (Photo Credit: Jeff Whyte)

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

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

Looking ahead to 2025, Valencia is expecting to welcome approximately 820,000 cruisers, which is nearly double the 436,000 that visited in 2019. 

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

The Port of Valencia is located on the Poniente Quay and brings guests within walking distance of central Valencia – although many cruise lines do provide shuttle transportation. 

Two berthing faces will remain available to more moderately sized vessels, which allows the city to still reap the economic benefits of cruise tourism in a way that promotes sustainability and quality of life for the approximately 800,000 residents. 

Lately, there has been a boom in cruise lines commissioning new mega-ships, which coincides with cruises becoming an increasingly popular way to travel. 

But with these giant vessels banned from Valencia, cruise lines may have to rearrange their deployments to make sure they only have smaller ships sailing in the region, or remove the Spanish port from their itineraries altogether.

Cruise Ships Docked in Valencia, Spain (Photo Credit: ODIN Daniel)

Even though 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. 

Read Also: Top 10 Biggest Cruise Ships in the World 2024

That said, Wonder of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, and Allure of the Seas also can 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 already has Harmony of the Seas scheduled to visit the city in January of that year.

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

P&O Cruises, which areboth owned by Carnival Corporation, also have large ships calling to the port in 2026. Arvia, which is owned by P&O Cruises, entered service in 2022 and can accommodate up to 5,200 passengers.

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