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Elisardo Sánchez shows an image of the first Alma Curceros ship, with the model of the second one in the background. Salvador Salas
Ambitious plans for first luxury cruise line based in Spain floated on the Costa del Sol
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Ambitious plans for first luxury cruise line based in Spain floated on the Costa del Sol

Alma Cruceros will start operating in April 2025 with a ship that will have capacity for 186 passengers and be based in the Port of Malaga

Pilar Martínez

Malaga

Tuesday, 23 April 2024, 21:00

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Just a few metres from the city's port, Malaga businessman Elisardo Sanchez has announced the birth of the first Spanish luxury cruise line: Alma Cruceros.

He posed next to the model of a ship that will be the second in a fleet that starts with the exclusive Ocean Victory, an avant-garde ship with an inverted bow built in 2021, with capacity for 186 passengers, and which will be based in the Port of Malaga.

On 18 April 2025, Alma Cruceros will make its maiden voyage, with a cruise from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to Malaga. It will be aimed at Spanish-speaking people, with the cruise sharing Spain's way of life, its culture, gastronomy and destinations.

Elisardo Sánchez, founding partner and executive president of Alma Cruceros, pointed out the work that has been under way since 2018 when the idea started to take shape. He said the Covid-19 pandemic put the brakes on the project, but took on new life with the rapid recovery of the travel sector.

Alma Cruceros will offer the Ocean Victory cruises of between seven and fourteen days in the summer seasons, from April to October, mainly in the western Mediterranean, North Africa and the Canary Islands. "Alma Cruceros represents what we wanted to transfer, that is, energy, spirit and a very personalised service to the Spanish and Spanish-speaking market that is not served, to show, for example, all the port provinces of Andalucía from an innovative perspective, taking care to detail the experience in the destinations and with new excursions that allow you to discover unique corners of the coastline from the sea," Sánchez said.

"We want passengers to enjoy a combination of traditional cruising and the possibilities offered by a private luxury yacht that can anchor in magical places, which cruise passengers can discover with transfers to land."

Unique in the sector

The company is currently processing such permits and is working on the design of the itineraries to reach urban destinations, as well as enjoying the sea experience.

"The experiences on land and at sea will be unique in the sector. We want Alma Cruceros to be closely linked to Malaga and Andalusian society. We will offer a different vision of our country to those who cruise with us. From the sea we will link all the Andalusian ports. We will be at the forefront of our culture and our high vocation of service that will position this shipping company as a revolutionary, authentic and unique experience," Sánchez said.

The on-board experience will also be very special, he added. "The differentiating character of the project lies in the fact that Alma will offer a product designed by Spaniards for Spaniards and Spanish speakers. So on board, leisure, entertainment, nightlife, shows, music and gastronomy will be designed for Spaniards and Spanish speakers in general. It will be an authentic Spanish product, unlike the services offered by English-speaking companies in the sector," Sánchez pointed out.

"The feelings we have are very good. We are enthusiastic. We have received a lot of feedback about this project, insisting that it was about time and that the Spanish market needed it."

Market release

The Ocean Victory has 93 double cabins, all of them exterior, with 90% of them having private balconies and 10% of them will be suites. The ship has, among other services, four restaurants, a spa, two jacuzzis, an infinity pool, and entertainment lounges - there will be 110 crew members on the ship during cruises. "The ship has the latest security and communications technology, as well as hybrid electric engines and other technical features that strictly comply with Alma Cruceros' commitment to respect the environment and society as a whole," Sánchez said.

Regarding sales, he said: "We are receiving requests through the website and by telephone and social media for the first year's cruises. We hope that we will soon be able to secure a full house on our first trips".

Expand the fleet

The company wants to add new ships in the coming years, with plans to expand the fleet with a second ship in 2027. Sánchez said: "One of the greatest difficulties in making Alma Cruceros a reality was finding a ship that met all the technical and commercial requirements demanded in our business plan. It had to be newly built and technologically-in-line with our philosophy of absolute respect for the environment because maintaining our oceans is a long-term commitment, as it is with our customers."

Sanchez also revealed the new shipping company will create a founders' club - a kind of private social club of no more than 80 members who will enjoy unique experiences, special discounts on cruises or participation in the design of itineraries for the cruises in the coming years. "The idea is to form a community of passionate travellers with the same interests and values," he added.

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