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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.

Cruise ships bring in 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 four 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.

About this article

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 several 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 April 2024

April sees a pretty busy month for cruise ships in Malaga and hundreds (if not thousands) of cruise passengers visit over the 30 days. If you’re looking for a bit of peace and quiet, maybe give the following dates a miss:

15 April – Mein Schiff stops off in Malaga with 3,132 passengers on board, along with Wind Star with 184.

16 April – a big day with two large cruise ships arriving in Malaga: the MSC Grandiosa with 6,334 visitors and the Oosterdam with 2,388. They’re joined by the relatively tiny Hanseatic Nature (248 passengers). Between the trio, they bring around 9,000 tourists to the city.

19 April – the Norwegian Escape carrying 4,270 cruise passengers stops off on its way from Cadiz to Ibiza.

21 April – cruise ships of three shapes and sizes dock today. The largest is Carnival Glory with 3,540 people on board. Seven Sea Grandeur is a lot smaller and carries ‘just’ 750 passengers, while the Sea Cloud Spirit is small with only 136 visitors.

22 April – the Costa Diadema arrives, carrying 4,947 passengers.

24 April – another big day with the return of Mein Schiff and its 3,132 passengers plus the Costa Fascinosa with 3,800 on board.

25 April – two large cruise ships moor, with almost 6,000 passengers between them.

26 April – a quiet day and one for admiring smaller cruise ships because three arrive today. Look out for La Belle des Océans, Star Flyer and Star Clipper moored near the Pergola. They each carry around 100 passengers.

30 April – the month finishes with the return of the Costa Diadema and her 4,957 tourists on board.

Best hotels for cruise ship views

If you like to watch the cruise ships, super yachts and boats coming in and leaving Malaga Port, how about booking a hotel room with direct views of the harbour? The best hotels in Malaga for Port vista include:

AC Palacio – be sure to book a room facing the port and from the 6th floor upwards.

Hotel MS Maestranza – go for a superior double and enjoy your own terrace.

Only You – treat yourselves to a Premium SEA for the best views of the port.

Room Mate Valeria – choose a standard room with views for optimum port watching.

Cruise ships in Malaga in May 2024

Mid-spring is high, high season for cruise ships in Malaga and hundreds (if not thousands) of cruise passengers arrive every day. It’s also a busy month for the giant Royal Caribbean Cruises ships. So, if you’re looking for a bit of peace and quiet, maybe give the following dates a miss:

1 May – the Odyssey of the Seas bring over 5,600 visitors to Malaga. It’s also a public holiday in the city, so expect the centre to be super crowded!

2 May – Oasis of the Seas with 6,360 passengers and Scarlet Lady with 2,816 on board arrive. 

4 May – three cruise ships arrive in town, including the Costa Fascinosas with 3,800 on board. The other two are tiny in comparison and carry 412 between them.

7 May – two giants arrive bringing over 5,900 people: MSC Orchestra and Aidastella. Both are on their way to Cadiz. 

9 May – one of the busiest days for cruise ships in Malaga this month, with three giants in town. The largest is Explorer of the Seas (4,000 passengers) and together with Cunard’s Queen Victoria and Norwegian Dawn, almost 10,000 visitors will arrive.

10 May – Sky Princess docks with 3,660 people on board. 

14 May – another Royal Caribbean biggie, the Voyager of the Seas, arrives, with almost 4,000 passengers. 

17 May – the MSC Orchestra (3,223 on board) pops back again, together with Sea Cloud Spirit with just 136 passengers.

24 May – one of the busiest days with a quartet of cruise ships in Malaga. They range from the giant Celebrity Equinox, the slightly smaller Mein Schiff and two much smaller boats. Between them, they carry around 7,000 passengers. 

27 May – the MSC Orchestra is back yet again, bringing 3,223 visitors to Malaga. 

cruise ships in Malaga moored in the Port

Cruise ships in Malaga in June 2024

High cruise season starts to wane this month after a busy April and May. However, there are still several days when thousands of visitors disembark into the city centre.

1 June – the month starts (and ends) with the arrival of MSC Orchestra and her 3,223 passengers.

9 June – after a pretty quiet week for cruise ships, two arrive today. The Carnival Legend has 2,680 people on board and the Seabourn Quest has nearly 500.

12 JuneMarella Voyager docks, carrying 2,217 people. The Azamara Onward joins her and brings 777 more visitors to Malaga.

16 June – one of the busiest days this month with three cruise ships in town. They include the MSC Orchestra (back again!), the Explora I and the Seven Seas Voyager. Between them, the trio carry almost 4,000 people.

18 June – sister ships, the Silver Ray and Silver Whisper, arrive in Malaga, along with Aidastella. Expect nearly 4,000 passengers in total.

19 June – Cunard’s Queen Anne docks, carrying 3,000 passengers. They’re visiting Malaga en route to A Coruña.

26 June – the month ends as it began with a visit from MSC Orchestra and her 3,223 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 July 2024

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 July – Yep, this month also starts with a visit from MSC Orchestra and her 3,223 passengers. 

13 July – Serenade of the Seas arrives in Malaga with 2,500 on board 

16 July – expect a busy, busy day today because two giants are in town. Between them, Mein Schiff and MSC Orchestra carry almost 6,200 passengers. It’s also the Virgen del Carmen day when the city celebrates the patron saint of fishermen with processions.

18 July – one of the biggest ships of all arrives at Malaga Port. The MSC Virtuosa has over 6,300 people on board. 

26 July – MSC Orchestra is back yet again, with 3,223 people.

30 July – the hottest month of the year ends with one of the busiest days for cruise ships in Malaga. Sister ships Aidacosma and Aidastella arrive and have over 9,500 passengers on board betwee them.  

Cruise ships in Malaga in August 2024

It’s high holiday season and Malaga Fair this month. Plenty of cruise ship passengers will be joining all the regular August tourists, so expect a busy month in Malaga this August.

1 August – the month starts with a biggie, the MSC Virtuosa and her passenger count of 6,334. They’re joined by the 325 on board the Wind Surf.

2 August – the Island Princess pops into Malaga Port with 2,400 on board.

5 August – the MSC Orchestra is back yet again, bringing 3,223 more tourists to Malaga.

13 August – the giant Aidacosma returns (6,880 passengers) and it’s a public holiday so be prepared for crowds galore!

15 August – the MSC Orchestra and Resilient Lady dock, carrying over 6,000 passengers between them.

21 August – the huge Anthem of the Sea arrives, bringing almost 5,000 visitors to Malaga. Note that the city is in the midst of its annual Fair, so expect the city centre to be packed to capacity.

24 August – it’s the last day of the Fair, but the 2,680 on board the Carnival Legend are just in time for the celebrations.

25 August – the MSC Orchestra makes its final visit in August, bringing yet another 3,223 passengers to the city.

31 August – the last day of the month welcomes Aidastella and her cargo of 2,700.

Tatoosh mega yacht in Malaga

Cruise ships in Malaga in September 2024

Update to follow.

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 – one 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 five great day trips from Malaga. We recommend avoiding Granada (a favourite with cruise ships passengers) but we reckon the other four 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 well 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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