The Port of Barcelona expects to have 149 calls and turn-arounds this winter, which represents a 26 percent increase over last year’s 118 calls.

According to a spokesperson for the port, the ships calling are from AIDA Cruises, Costa Crociere, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Pullmantur Cruises and Royal Caribbean.

The year-round service of the Brilliance of the Seas and the Norwegian Jade are also attracting a large number of Spanish passengers, the spokesperson said.

The year 2008 also brough new record figures at the Port of Barcelona with the arrival of 2.069.651 passengers, of which more than 55 percent began and/or ended their cruise in the city. The two million passengers mark was achieved in November.

The 2008 cruise tourists throughput is a 17.2 percent increase over the previous year, when the Port received 1.765.838 passengers. The number of cruise calls has also grown by 8 percent, with a total of 887 calls in 2008.

The cruise traffic strengthens Barcelona position as one of the the top cruise ports in the world. Part of this success is due to the port’s strategy to break the seasonality of the business. In 2008 several cruise operators have positioned some of their vessels in Barcelona during autumn and winter months, enabling the Port to keep a steady flow of passengers during the low season. This is the case of MSC Cruceros, Costa Cruceros, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line, amongst others, the port said in a prepared statement.

In view of the growing demand for berthing and services by the cruise industry, efforts to enlarge and improve passengers’ facilities have been undertaken during the few last years. Creuers del Port de Barcelona has invested 15 million euros in the brand new Terminal A, which opened last June with a capacity for 4,000 passengers.

In April 2007 Costa Crociere opened its new “Palacruceros” Terminal in Barcelona equipped to accommodate cruise ships of any tonnage, length and capacity. The Italian company invested approximately 12 million euros in the new terminal for preferential use by Costa Crociere and other companies in the Carnival Corporation group.

The Port of Barcelona currently has seven terminals exclusively dedicated to cruise passengers, although it is planned to build a new passenger terminal at the Moll Adossat quay in the near future.