cruise ships in Malaga

Busy cruise ships dates to avoid in Malaga

Every so often, several big cruise ships in Malaga coincide on the same day packing the city centre to bursting point. Our guide to the busiest dates helps you plan your visit ahead and hopefully avoid the crowds.

Cruise ships bring in lots of revenue for the city, but they also make the centre and all the museums and monuments in Malaga extremely busy. It isn’t unusual for 4 cruise ships to moor on the same day and their over 10,000 passengers to visit the city. We’ve been in the city centre when this happens and usually give up trying to get in anywhere because Malaga was just too busy.

We realised we should have checked the schedule for cruise ships in Malaga first and avoided the city altogether that day. It’s easy enough to check which ships are in town and when plus the number of tourists they carry on the Malaga Port website. Click on the month and scroll down to a particular date. You can even see where the cruise ships come from and go to.


But we like to make things easy and this blog post does just that. Here, you’ll find a month-by-month listing of the largest cruise ships. This means you can choose to avoid Malaga city centre on those days if jostling your way through lots of people isn’t your thing. On the other hand, if you love the atmosphere that goes with tonnes of tourists you can make a note of the dates and join them. Or maybe you’re a huge fan of cruise ships and want to see the real biggies, the dates below are the ones to save.

In this latest update, we’ve also included the super-yacht days. Those dreamy boats that moor next to the Pergola with just a few dozen lucky passengers. If you’re in town when they are, pop along to the port to admire them close-up. 

We’ve covered all these eventualities. The post includes three months at a time to give you plenty of advance warning. We’ve included the largest ships and the days when there will be most tourists in town (over 3,000). And if you can’t avoid being in Malaga – you’ve already booked your stay – we provide some ideas to get you off the beaten track in Malaga and away from all those cruise passengers (see below).

Most cruise ships arrive between 7 and 8am – for the best view of their arrival at dawn head for the western seafront. 


anthem of the seas in Malaga

Best views of the cruise ships in Malaga port? Head for the Gibralfaro Castle or take a ride on the ferris wheel. There’s something very special about seeing big and small ships in the port.


Cruise Ships in Malaga in February

Like January, February is a decidedly quiet month for cruise ships in Malaga. Just 8 ships will be in town, but there are still some days you might like to avoid.

1 February – the Norwegian Spirit makes the first its February calls at the beginning of the month with a passenger list of over 2,600.

9 February – 2 cruise ships arrive, although they’re very different in size and passenger count. Mein Schiff 2 arrives with 2,631 on board and the much smaller Corinithian with just 110.

22 February – in the run up to Carnival in Malaga, the Norwegian Spirit returns with another 2,639 passengers on board.




Cruise Ships in Malaga in March

Things start to hot up cruise ships in Malaga this month. It still isn’t high season – just 17 ships will be in town –  but there are definitely some days you might like to avoid, especially towards the end of March.

13 March – the luxury yacht Clio makes her first visit this month with 95 on board. See her docked at the Pergola all day and night since this cruise ship doesn’t leave Malaga until the next day (14 March).

19 March – the first of the Costa cruise ships this season arrives. Costa Deliziosa has 2,825 on board.

26 March – 4 cruise ships will dock in Malaga including the Norwegian Spirit, Mien Schiff and MSC Opera with over 7,600 on board between them. The Clio with just 95 passengers will seem tiny beside them!

28 March – 2 biggies arrive in town. the MSC Fantasia and Costa Fascinosa each have over 4,150 on board so expect a very busy day in the city centre.

31 March – the month ends on a high for cruise ships in Malaga. 3 ships – the MSC Divina, Horizon and Ventura – bring almost 10,000 passengers. Definitely a day to avoid if you fancy doing some quiet sightseeing in Malaga!

Anthem of the Seas one of the largest cruise ships in Malaga

Cruise Ships in Malaga in April

High season starts in earnest in April with the arrival of almost 45 cruise ships to Malaga. The month includes some very busy days at the port and in Malaga city centre. If you’re looking for a bit of peace and quiet, maybe give the following dates a miss:

11 April – over 13,000 passengers arrive in Malaga on 4 cruise ships including the big Coast Favolosa and the even bigger MSC Seaview.

16 April – another busy day with over 7,000 on board on 3 cruise ships. The Spectrum of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean Cruise ship, will be in town with almost 5,000 passengers.

17 April – the giant Aidanova brings over 6,600 visitors to Malaga and will be joined by the Koningsdam and Wind Star with just 184 passengers, making the total over 9,300.

18 April – ‘just’ 2 cruise ships arrive but between them, they carry almost 5,000 passengers.

19 April – a good day for small cruise ship spotting with the Star Flyer and Club Med 2 both in town.

20 April – 2 giants dock with over 7,300 passengers on board between them.

27 April – the busiest day of the month with 5 cruise ships arriving in Malaga. They include 3 small craft – Royal Clipper, Seadream I and Wind Surf – plus the larger Prinsendam and much bigger Mein Schiff, a regular visitor to Malaga. Over 4,400 visitors in total.

28 April – another busy day with 3 ships including the large Costa Favolosa with 4,196 on board.

29 April – the month ends on a quieter small note with 3  small cruise ships in Malaga. They include Le Ponant, a luxury tall ship that will probably dock next to the Pergola.


Alternative things to do in Malaga

You might be disappointed not to get into the Picasso Museum or to find the Alcazaba Fortress packed to the brim because of the cruise ship tourists. But don’t worry, there are plenty of things to do in Malaga that will take you away from the beaten tourist track. Here are some suggestions:

Discover El Limonar – 1 of the loveliest districts in Malaga. Check out our walking tour.

Explore Calle Victoria area – right off the beaten track in Malaga with some unusual things to see. Read more.

Take the jabega boat trail – discover an essential piece of Malaga’s past, hopefully pretty much on your own. Find out more.

Walk along the Western Seafront – big beach, 2 good museums and seriously delicious fish. Read more.

Our website has a section dedicated to unusual things to do in Malaga.

Go off on a half-day visit – see our Things to Do section for some great suggestions, all easily doable in a day.

Make a full day of it – our Things to Do section also suggests 5 great day trips from Malaga. We recommend avoiding Granada (a favourite with cruise ships passengers) but we reckon the other 4 will be pretty quiet.

And if you really can’t avoid being in Malaga on a busy cruise ship day:

  • Book visits to museums and monuments in advance.
  • Book that restaurant table well ahead.
  • Do your sightseeing first or last thing.
  • Soak up the buzz of so many people enjoying Malaga at the same time!

Malaga cruise ships

Keep your finger on the Malaga buzzer – sign up for our free fortnightly newsletter. All you need to know about what’s on and what’s new in the city in your inbox every other Friday.