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. 2020 promises to be a very busy year with almost 300 cruise ships due in Malaga over the next 12 months. 

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

Cruise ships in Malaga in January

January is low season for cruise ships in Malaga and just 8 will dock over the month. If you’re looking for a bit of peace and quiet, maybe give the following dates a miss:

6 January – The Christmas season ends with the arrival of MSC Opera with 2,343 passengers on board.

8 January – Mein Schiff 4 makes the first of several trips to Malaga in 2020 with 2,500 visitors.

28 January – MSC Opera returns to the city on its way back to Genoa.

29 January – the month ends with Mein Schiff 4 back in town.

cruise ships in Malaga moored in the Port


Cruise ships in Malaga in February

Low season continues for cruise ships in Malaga this month. The busiest months are still a while away and just 5 ships will be in town in February. But there are definitely some days you might like to avoid including:

7 February – the month gets off to a start with a visit from the large Oceana.

16 February – Mein Schiff 4 returns yet again to Malaga with her 2,506 passengers.

19 February – not to be outdone, MSC Opera is also back again with 2,345 on board.

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 March

Things start to pick up slightly for cruise ships in Malaga and 11 will be in town this month, including some of the largest in the world.

11 March – the Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas makes her first visit of the season to Malaga and brings over 6,300 passengers with her. She’s joined by Mein Schiff 4 so expect a very busy day in the centre of Malaga.

19 March – another giant, Costa Pacifica arrives in Malaga with almost 3,800 passengers.

23 March – Ventura with 3,597 on board docks in Malaga.

Cruise ships in Malaga in April 

High season for cruise ships in Malaga arrives in earnest in April when over 45 will dock. Expect to see at least one ship a day and take a note of the busiest days below. The end of the month is particularly busy! 

2 April – the month gets off to a busy start with two biggies including MSC Seaview and between them, they bring over 6,000 passengers to Malaga. Prepare for a busy day in the centre of Malaga.

5 April – today gives you the opportunity to see something smaller with two ships docked – the Corinthian and Berlin. 

8 April – two giants arrive in Malaga with over 10,300 on board between them. Aidanova has 6,654 passengers and Crown Princess carries 3,752. This together with Easter week means Malaga city centre will be extra crowded. 

18 April – another busy day when Costa Favolosa arrives with her 4,196 passengers. She’s joined by Viking Sky, relatively small with ‘just’ 944 on board.

Tatoosh mega yacht in Malaga

20 April – five cruise ships sail into Malaga, although they total ‘only’ 3,750 passengers between them. The largest is Cunard’s Queen Victoria (2,250) and the smallest is the Flying Clipper with 300 on board.

26 April – two ships bring in well over 6,000 passengers between them. Just the Costa Fortuna has nearly 3,500 on board.

28 April – things start to get seriously busy when the Norwegian Escape arrives carrying 5,000 passengers. 

30 April – the last day of the month is also the busiest of 2020 so far. Five cruise ships come into Malaga with over 15,000 passengers between them. They include the giants Norwegian Epic (5,186) and Costa Fascinosa (4,195). Definitely a day to give the city centre a (very) wide berth! 



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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