Answer to Map #88

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Answer: This week’s map was a proportional symbol map depicting the ports of North America and Europe that serve the most cruise ship passengers each year.

In order to put together such a map, we had to cobble together data from several different sources. The Association of Mediterranean Cruise Ports keeps passenger data from all ports on the Mediterranean Sea. Wikipedia’s list of busiest cruise ports by passengers is not entirely reliable, but it contains links to separate files with the data for the NAFTA countries and for the Caribbean countries. Cruise Baltic has data for most ports that border the Baltic Sea. In addition, we filled in missing data by Googling separately for such ports as Hamburg and Southampton.

We were not able to find reliable enough passenger data from anywhere in Asia, so we omitted that continent from this map entirely. Cruising is rapidly gaining in popularity in East Asia, which makes it every more difficult to rely on data that is available on the internet. According to one report, the total number of passenger calls at Asian cruise ports increased a staggering 55% from 2015 to 2016. Consequently, whereas we might be able to mix and match European and North American data sets from similar years, that wouldn’t work for Asia.

On our map, the largest red dots indicate ports that serve more than 4 million passengers each year. The orange dots indicate ports with more than 3 million passengers, the yellow dots ports with more than 2 million passengers, the green dots ports with more than 1 million passengers, and the blue dots ports with more than 500,000 passengers.

As you can see, Florida is the center of the cruise world. The three biggest ports are the Port of Miami (4,980,000 passengers per year), Port Canaveral (4,248,000 passengers per year), and Port Everglades (3,826,000 passengers per year). The overwhelming majority of Caribbean cruises begin and end in Florida.

The busiest cruise port in Europe is that of Barcelona (2,683,000 passengers per year), followed by Civitavecchia (2,340,000 passengers per year) and the Port of the Balearic Islands (1,957,000 passengers per year). Civitavecchia is the port that serves Rome, a common tourist destination.

Currently, the world’s four largest cruise ships all belong to Royal Caribbean. Each has a maximum capacity of over 6,600 passengers. All four of these ships were built in Europe (two in Finland and two in France). Generally, each new ship enters into service in the Mediterranean before crossing the Atlantic. Last month, the Symphony of the Seas set the new record for the world’s largest cruise ship when it made its inaugural voyage. This ship will operate out of Barcelona for the rest of summer 2018. In October, when the weather gets colder and the Mediterranean cruise season slows down, the ship will cross the Atlantic to its permanent home port of—where else?—Miami.

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