The Mediterranean Sea has seen an increase of ports hosting cruise ships during the first fifteen years of the 21st century. The increase in cruise ship presence in Mediterranean ports is associated with the dynamism of cruise traffic in recent years, with an average annual growth of 7.45% for cruise passengers worldwide during the period of 1990-2015. Cruise traffic is a maritime business that is primarily composed of two elements, maritime affairs and tourism. This article focuses on the maritime component. With the growth of the cruise industry, cruise lines have been forced to seek new ports to meet demand in an attempt to create differentiated products based on the ports that compose the itinerary. The itinerary system of cruise traffic makes the cruise ports depend on one another to design an itinerary. This feature results in both complex geographic relationships in the design of a cruise itinerary and complex competitive/cooperative relationships between ports. The aim of this article is to present the hierarchic picture of a sample of 29 cruise ports in the Western Mediterranean region during the period of 2000-2015. To achieve this goal, a port size classification is proposed and a shift-share analysis at the inter- and intra-group size level is applied. Moreover, concentration measures are used to determine the changes in the levels of market concentration. Furthermore, a dynamic model is proposed to determine the competitive or cooperative relationships between cruise ports. The proposed model is applied to the largest ports with data from the 2001-2015 period.
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