Busy cruise ships dates

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 May

Like April, May is a super-busy month for cruise ships in Malaga. A total of 43 ships will visit over the month and there’ll be at least one in the Port every day. 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:

4 May– 2 biggies start the month with a passenger list of over 4,000 between them.

6 May– 1 of the busiest days when 3 cruise ships stop in Malaga including the giant Msc Preziosa. In total, the 3 bring over 5,400 visitors.

9 May – easily the busiest day of all this month. 3 giants – the Norwegian Epic with 5,186 on board, her smaller sister, the Norwegian Star with 3,000 passengers and the Costa Favolosa stop in Malaga. Over 10,500 extra tourists will be in town so remember to do something a little bit different that day (see our suggestions below).

10 May – from thousands to just 49 in a day. The sleek mega yacht, Harmony V, makes the first of her stops in May. Look out for her moored next to the Pergola. She returns on 22 of the month.

11 May – the small theme continues with 2 mega yachts. Between them, Seadream II and Crystal Spirit bring 200 passengers to Malaga.

12 May – anything but small, this is another busy day for cruise ships in Malaga. The Costa Pacifica on her way to Rome stops in Malaga with nearly 3,800 on board and joins Mein Schiff with almost 2,900 passengers.

23 May – another big day with almost 10,000 passengers arriving at the Malaga cruise terminal. Disney Magic brings 2,834 and Costa Pacifica returns with 3,780 on board.

31 May – the month ends with the elegant Silver Whisper, all in white and with 435 on board.

cruise ships in Malaga moored in the Port

Cruise Ships in Malaga in June

Things start to cool down a bit for cruise ships in Malaga this month. High season is on its way out and just 19 ships will be in town. But there are definitely some days you might like to avoid, especially towards the end of June. We’ve also highlighted some dates when it’s worth making your way to Malaga Port to see some very special ships.

1 June – the month starts with some luxury cruise ships. The mega yacht Harmony V is back in Malaga with her 49 passengers (she also returns on 27 July). Joining her is Silver Shadow, just as bit as elegant as her sister ship, Silver Whisper.

10 June – the first biggie of the month, the Independence of the Seas with nearly 4,400 on board. She will positively dwarf Le Bougainville with just 180 passengers.

28 June – Arcadia makes its first stop on its cruise from Southampton with 2,388 on board.

30 June – the month finishes big with the Norwegian Pearl arriving in Malaga with over 3,100 on board so expect a busy day in the city centre.

Anthem of the Seas, one of the biggest cruise ships in Malaga

Cruise Ships in Malaga in July

July means low season for cruise ships in Malaga and just 13 will be in town this month.

3 July – the month starts with a rather special visitor: the Wind Surf with 312 passengers is 1 of the largest tall cruise ships in the world. Admire her 5 giant masts, perhaps with the sails unfurled when she sails in and out.

11 July – you get a second chance to admire the Wind Surf and she’s joined by Marella Discovery with over 2,000 on board.

21 July – the sleek mega yacht Harmony V returns for her only visit in July. Admire her on Muelle 2, next to the Pergola.

Tatoosh mega yacht in Malaga

23 July – the Koningsam sails in with 2,660 on board.

27 July – look out for the Aidastella, bringing nearly 1,600 passengers into Malaga on their way to Cadiz.

30 July – the month ends with a biggie – one of the Royal Caribbean Cruise giants arrives. the Explorer of the Seas has over 3,800 passengers on board.

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!
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