A total of 7.1 million cruise ship passengers were welcomed to Spain for the first eleven months of 2013, showing a slight decline of 0.74% compared to the same period in 2012, but, at the same time, the number of ships that docked has increased by 2.44%, according to the Port Authority.

The end of year figures looked favourable too with 757,339 passengers in November, an increase of 6.1%, having fallen by 6.4% in October.

Between January and January and November, 3,562 ships docked in the national ports, 85 vessels more than a year ago. In November there were 475 cruises, up 9.1%, with more than 40 vessels receive.

Of the island ports, the most popular places to visit were the Las Palmas, with 661,988 passengers, and Santa Cruz de Tenerife, with 656,376, although these registered a decline of 13.43% and 10.85% respectively.

Meanwhile, the port of Barcelona showed a fair increase of is 7.14% in the number of cruise passengers, serving 2.48 million in the first eleven months of 2013, whilst the number of vessels also increased by 7.56 % to 797.

In November, as the national average showed a 6.1% increase, Barcelona shot ahead with a staggering 20.4% increase, with 191,303 cruise passengers being handled from 78 ships, fourteen ships more than a year ago.

In 2012, Spanish ports received 7.5 million passengers and 3,725 ships, and of the 58 million tourists who visited Spain, about 4.7 million were cruise passengers with a turnover of about 15 million euro. The cruise industry generated a turnover of 1.3 billion euro and employed 27,000 people.

Without knowing the data for December, the Spanish ports estimate that the increase in the number of cruise passengers in 2014 could exceed 20%, according to reservations already made, a forecast which could surpass the record of 2011 when eight million cruise passengers landed in Spain.

This year, shipping companies will benefit from a reduction in port charges of 8.5% for passenger terminals and 5% for the ship and the passengers, according to the State Budget for 2014.

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