Alejandra Cruces, next to the headquarters of IGY Malaga Marina, whose windows reflect the Lady Moura megayacht. Ñito Salas
Alejandra Cruces, IGY Málaga Marina: 'If we carry on like this, the megayacht marina will be too small in a few years'

Alejandra Cruces, IGY Málaga Marina: 'If we carry on like this, the megayacht marina will be too small in a few years'

The berths for luxury vessels on the city's Muelle Uno, which were full for the first time in March, are expected to be full again in May

Ignacio Lillo


Tuesday, 23 April 2024, 20:19


Alejandra Cruces has been the manager of IGY Malaga Marina, the city's megayacht port, since September last year. After only two years of operation, the facility was completely full for the first time in March, and the forecast is it will be again in May. The Malaga-based director has a background in engineering, marketing and design, as well as almost a decade of experience in the maritime world, first in a shipping company and now in the harbour for large luxury yachts.

You have an office with a privileged view of the port and the centre. How does life look from here?

It's different from everything else, even though I came from a shipping agency, this is different. Here we live with the crews, we help them with whatever they need, we try to make them feel at ease here.... Each ship is like a small village, at the end we have contact with the people in charge of each department and with the captains. We show them the city, what you can't find on the internet.

As hosts of Malaga.

Yes, of course, from the captains and crews, not from the shipowners. Especially with the boats that are here the longest. It's as if we were work colleagues, you end up having a certain bond, and we take them to see typical places, to eat pescaíto, to El Palo, to try a campero, because they like to know what we Malaga people do, to feel part of Malaga.

You are a young woman, in a world such as the sea, which is eminently masculine. How do you cope?

The truth is that little by little we are more and more women who are walking the path. It is true that it is a man's world, but they tend to think: 'If she is here, being a woman and young, it is because she has worked hard and knows what she is doing'. Sometimes they ask me this question but I don't really feel it's hard, on the contrary, I feel total acceptance, in general I don't feel any discrimination.

Do you like sailing?

I don't sail. I love boats but I get seasick, I wasn't born for a life on the water (laughs).

And have you ever been offered to go on board one of these yachts?

We rarely go up there, to get on the yacht you have to be invited, generally we don't go past the dock. It is true that when you have more confidence with the engineers or the captain and they invite you, you get to know the boat - what I like most is the engineering, the engine room, I don't really care about the rest.

"When I am invited to see the ship, what I like most is the engineering, the engine room"

Don't you want to see the luxurious cabins and lounges?

No, they laugh a lot at me. They ask me why I am so interested in the engine room. But, off course, the yachts are beautiful, spectacular, like luxury hotels.

But you must have had the chance to see some real wonders?

Yes, that's right, and they show you the boat with great pride.

The truth is that more people are coming and there was a 'full house' at the marina for the first time in March. How do you rate it?

Very positively, but also with a lot of caution. We are just starting out and we have been working hard for years to build the destination, which is the most complicated thing. Although Malaga is a city that is becoming more well-known, in the world of megayachts most of the captains don't know it and that surprises me a lot. In the end, one captain is from Mexico, another is from South Africa, so they are used to doing their routes, especially when they cross (the Atlantic) and go directly to Gibraltar because they have never had a reason to stop in Malaga. At the beginning, when we were going to start sellng the fact that a megayacht marina had opened, we had to give them Puerto Banús and Marbella as a reference point. But slowly, word of mouth is what makes them take the step to try it. Because it is true is that when they come here, they all leave having fallen in love with Malaga. They are used to paradise islands, and you can ask yourself what they see in Malaga: they are tired of always seeing the same thing and what they want is to be in real places, with the centre five minutes away, and on the same pier they have restaurants, shops, etc. Here they have everything: the weather is good, they love the people and there are more specialised companies.

Many people wonder what they come for: supplies, fuel, repairs...

They don't come for fuel, because Gibraltar is next door and it is much cheaper. During these days of crossing (from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean) they come for the crews (there are usually an average of 30 to 60 people) to rest for a few days before the summer season starts, and the opposite when they return in autumn. That has been the start, but they are also extending their stays for repairs and maintenance, with more technical stopovers. And others are starting the season now and are coming here so that the shipowners can embark here and get to know the area. They also use us as a provisioning port.

Does it generate employment?

We have technical companies that are specialising to cover all the services required. Because they no longer come just to spend a few days and enjoy the city, but they are increasingly staying longer to carry out maintenance work here.

Increases in passenger arrivals, not just crew?

At the beginning, very few people came, but it's true that more are coming. In the case of the yachts that come here on passage, that make the crossing, normally the first stop used to be in Barcelona or the Balearic Islands, and that's where the owners would embark. Now, the captains come, they get to know Malaga and suggest that the owners come and get to know it. So more and more ships are coming not only for the owners to embark here, but also to stay for a week and get to know the area.

"More and more boats are coming here whose owners come to embark here and get to know the area"

So, is Malaga becoming more popular for luxury tourism?

Yes, completely. We are fighting for it, both to have the luxury for the owners and for the crews, who are in an intermediate range, and also like to have a normal life, as if they were in their own city. It's coming round and it's true that the owners like it more, and more companies in the luxury sector are coming round, so the circle is closing... It will take time but we are on the right track.

Will it achieve what was intended, that this will be a wintering port for large yachts?

We are going to make it, but little by little, because of the route we are taking. How long will it take? I can't tell you. But there are many more boats interested in coming next winter, and every year we receive more applications than the previous one, and they tell us that if they stay in the Mediterranean they will come here, because the crew is what they ask for.

The new electrical connection has finally been completed. What does it mean?

What it will allow us to do is to have a separate line from the rest of the port so that the ships can turn off their generators and connect to the city supply, and so they don't pollute. They have such a large consumption of energy that the new service connection allows all the ships to be served without interfering with the lines in the rest of the port or the area.

"Thanks to the electrical connection, the ships turn off the generators and thus do not pollute"

What does the month of May look like?

In May we will be full again, at least for two weeks. More large ships are going to arrive, and we are going to put them sideways on, which will block some smaller berths, which are at peak booking times. These are vessels that are taking advantage of this to come for long stays and do maintenance work. During this period, if more bookings are asked for, we will have to use other areas of the port. The Adosado al Dique de Levante (ADL, on the other side of the Casa de Botes) is concessioned for occasional use.

Did you expect to get to this point so soon?

We have worked hard for it to reach capacity in every way: at yacht fairs, in forums, visiting marinas in the Caribbean, promoting it among captains, agencies and brokers, to put Malaga on the map.... and it has been put on the map. But this also has its seasonality, in summer it is low season.

Is Malaga already on the global megayacht circuit?

It is on the circuit of those who already know Malaga, everyone who knows it tries to stop here.

"Many are taking advantage of this to do longer stays and maintenance work"

But there are still many who don't know it.

Exactly, we have to keep promoting and working to put it on the map for as many people as possible. It is a sector in which everyone knows each other, these circles are not very large. In fact, a boat that arrives at the end of April and stays almost all of May, and which had not come before, does so because the captain was previously the chief engineer on another boat. More big yachts are being built, and there is a lot of staff turnover. Whoever comes here, leaves talking about Malaga.

Will the Malaga marina become too small?

Yes, it won't be tomorrow or next year, but it's May, we've been open for two years and we're already full. And it will be better when we become a winter destination. But suddenly another marina may open, you never know. I don't know how long it will take but people are really liking Malaga. If we keep going the way we are going, in a few years I am confident that it will be full and we will outgrow it.

And would there be a way to extend it?

When the time comes, we will see what can be done.

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