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Gibraltar: A Unique Destination and a Benchmark in Cruise Ship Tourism

Soraya Fernandéz | Photos: Fran Montes & InfoGibraltar

Gibraltar’s Multimillion £ Cruising Industry

Last year, Gibraltar welcomed in 254 cruise ships, totalling 406,998 passengers, an increase of 0.5% compared with 2017, which brought in £16.7 million to the local economy.

Gibraltar continues to rise as a benchmark in cruise ship tourism, closely following the port of Cadiz and the port of Malaga, which leads in Andalusia.

In 2017, Gibraltar welcomed 404,994 tourists aboard 235 cruise ships, whereas the figure stood at 406,998 passengers on 254 ships last year, showing an increase of 0.5%.

Gibraltar is very close to the port of Cadiz, which had 323 stopovers last year, with 424,900 passengers aboard; an increase of 11 and 9.76%, respectively, compared to 2017.

Main Street Gibraltar

Malaga continues to lead the way, ranking fifth in the whole of Spain and second in among mainland ports not including the islands, with 296 calls and 506,000 passengers visiting in 2018.

The Port of Gibraltar receives cruise ships from the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, the Americas, France, Norway and Japan, among other countries. This generated an economic impact of £16.70 million for Gibraltar in 2018. The average expenditure per cruise ship per day was £41.03.

According to the Government of Gibraltar’s 2018 Tourism Report, in terms of nationality, 72% of the cruise ship passengers were British; 11% were from other European Union countries, 1% from Spain and 16% of other nationalities.

Gibraltar Cruising Industry

2019 is also looking like a good year for the Rock. From January to July this year, 147,709 cruise ship passengers landed in Gibraltar; 8,618 in January, 2,607 in February, 6,868 in March, 31,959 in April, 35,882 in May, 27,813 in June and 33,962 in July. They arrived on 92 cruise ships. April and May saw the most arrivals, with 21 and 24 cruises respectively.

AIDA Cruises is the latest to join the list of major cruise lines that have chosen Gibraltar as a destination on their routes through the western Mediterranean.

Gibraltar has established itself as a tourist attraction due to its unique and ideal geographical location, making it a very attractive port of call for cruise companies. It is therefore a very popular port for both the western Mediterranean and North Atlantic itineraries, so it is included by many companies as a destination on both routes.

Gibraltar Cruising Industry

A spokesman for the Government of Gibraltar told Reach-Alcance that Gibraltar offers a “unique product” in comparison to other ports of call in the area that are part of the same itinerary.

Gibraltar is unique; a British Overseas Territory that offers a wide array of tourist attractions – among them, its military and natural history, the very attractive VAT-free shopping and an abundance of sight-seeing excursions – make the product offer stand out from other ports of call.

Cruise ship passengers can enjoy a wide range of activities in Gibraltar: a nature reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site, the only free roaming macaque population in Europe, a centuries-old historical, religious and cultural heritage, and a range of hotels, commercial and entertainment services which are ideal for short visits.

It is hard to compete with the Windsor suspension bridge and the viewpoints around Gorham Cave, or the Skywalk.

SkyWalk Gibraltar

Gibraltar’s tax regime is another attraction for tourists when shopping for certain products such as alcoholic beverages and spirits, tobacco and top-of-the-line cosmetics and perfume.

Another advantage that is difficult to compete with is that this is one of the few Mediterranean cruise ports that boasts an international airport just minutes away, with direct daily flights to several UK destinations. This is an extra incentive for cruise ship passengers to transfer to ships, and a very important one for crew changes.

For cruise companies, it is also an attractive destination that offers services at very competitive prices, thanks to its VAT-free status.


In addition to all this, the magnificent facilities of the cruise terminal with a 940-metre wharf allow for the simultaneous berthing of up to four medium-sized or two large vessels.

On top of that, it has established itself as a multi-service centre for these companies, offering fuel transfer, provisioning and crew changes, parts and repairs.

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