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cruise ships in Malaga

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. 2023 promises to reinforce Malaga’s popularity as a cruise ship stop off – over 300 cruises have scheduled stops. 

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 two-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

Cruise ships in Malaga in March 2023

March sees a pretty busy month for cruise ships in Malaga and hundreds (if not thousands) of cruise passengers visit over the 31 days. If you’re looking for a bit of peace and quiet, maybe give the following dates a miss:

6 March – MSC Lirica stops off in Malaga with 2,200 passengers on board, on their way to Alicante.

7 March – the Norwegian Sun arrives with 2,450 visitors.

16 March – two medium-sized cruise ships are in town, the MSC Lirica and Vasco da Gama. Between them, they carry over 3,700 passengers.

19 March – the first big arrival of the month (and the season) comes in the return of the Symphony of the Seas. She’s one of the world’s biggest cruise ships and has 6,360 people on board.

20 March – big and small today with the elegant Corinithian (111 passengers) and the Enchanted Princess, carrying 3,660.

27 March – another biggie arrives in the form of the MSC Seaview with 5,429 on board and en route to Barcelona.

31 March – three cruises ships moor, two smallish with around 900 passengers each and the larger Norwegian Sun with 2,450.

Cruise ships in Malaga in April 2023

Early spring is high, high season for cruise ships in Malaga and hundreds (if not thousands) of cruise passengers arrive every day. If you’re looking for a bit of peace and quiet, maybe give the following dates a miss:

2 April – the Marella Discovery 2 and Silver Moon bring around 2,600 visitors to Malaga.

7 April – Sky Princess arrives and she carries 3,600 passengers. 

10 April – three cruise ships arrive in town, including the Costa Fortuna with 3,470 on board. Total visitors number around 4,370.

15 April – two giants arrive bringing over 4,600 people: MSC Lirica and Island Princess. 

17 April – not a day for biggies, but two smaller yachts moor in Malaga, both worth checking out: Wind Star and Scenic Eclipse.

20 April – two ships cruise in, the Nieuw Statendam with 3,152 and Seaborn Quest with 478. 

21 April – a trio of cruise ships, led by MSC Fantasia, bring nearly 7,200 visitors to Malaga. 

22 April – a chance to see the giant La Belle des Oceans with her passenger load of 5,218. 

24 April – one of the busiest days with a quartet of cruise ships in Malaga. They range from the giant Britannia, slightly smaller Carnival Pride, the even smaller Ocean Majesty and the comparatively mini Sea Cloud II with ‘just’ 94′ on board. Between them, they carry over 7,700 passengers. 

25 April – just one cruise ship, but the Norwegian Gem is big enough and brings 3,130 people to visit. 

28 April – the month ends with a bang and over 6,500 cruise passengers in town on four ships. Mein Schiff 2 and Celebrity Edge are the biggest, while Star Clipper and Star Legend carry ‘only’ 500 people between them. 

cruise ships in Malaga moored in the Port

Cruise ships in Malaga in May 2023

High season continues for cruise ships in Malaga this month and May is definitely one of the busiest times of the year. Plenty of big ships will be in town in May, almost one every day. Dates to see them or avoid the crowds are:

1 May – the month starts with three giants: the Norwegian Breakaway, Costa Firenze and Odyssey of the Seas. Between them, they bring an eye-watering 14,910 passengers to Malaga. (And it’s a public holiday…)

2 May – following on from the day before, the second day of the month is also busy, busy. Five cruises are due to moor, including the big Explorer of the Seas (fresh from Miami) and Celebrity Infinity. The quintet carry over 7,400 people.

3 May – no respite today either with the Explorer of the Seas still in town, joined by Costa Diadema. Their passengers total nearly 8,800.

6 May – another busy day with the Costa Favolosa and Artania, bringing over 4,000 people to Malaga.

9 May – two cruises ships will be in town: the Aidastella (2,700) and the Rhapsody of the Seas (2,416). 

10 May – a trio of cruise ships led by the Enchantment of the Seas and Celebrity Infinity (around 2,400 passengers each) with the much smaller World Traveller joining them.

16 May – Mein Schiff 2 and Carnival Pride are both back, with elegant The World joining them. Expect around 6,200 extra visitors.

89 May – Disney Dream is in town with 4,000 on board and is joined by Ooserdam carrying 2,388.

20 May – Celebrity Infinity pops back again with another 2,450 people and she’s joined by Marina with 1,328. 

31 May – the month ends with a visit from the giant Independence of the Seas with over 4,300 passengers visiting Malaga.

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

Best views of the cruise ships in Malaga port? Head for the Gibralfaro Castle – there’s something very special about seeing big and small ships in the port.

Cruise ships in Malaga in June 2023

Things quieten down a little during this month, but there are still several days when lots of cruise ship passengers will be in town. They include: 

1 June – Viking Star arrives for the first time in June with 930 people on board, visiting Malaga before they reach Lisbon. Joining them is the Azamara Pursuit with over 700 passengers and the Ocean Odyssey whose 160 passengers are taking a Costa del Sol cruise between Motril and Sotogrande. 

6 June – one biggie and another slightly smaller bring over 3,700 visitors to Malaga. Mein Schiff 2 joins Azamara Journey. 

10 June – Aidastella returns to Malaga with 2,700 on board. 

17 June – the Norwegian Getaway arrives at Malaga Port with over 4,000 people on board. 

24 June – the last biggie of the month, MSC Orchestra, brings 3,600 people to Malaga. 

Cruise ships in Malaga in July 2023

It’s now low season for cruise ships in Malaga. Update to follow. 

Tatoosh mega yacht in Malaga

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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