The Iona cruise ship, considered to be the third largest in the world, will sail into Malaga for the first time. / EFE

Third-largest cruise ship in the world docks in Malaga for the first time

Four ships arrived on the Costa del Sol this Thursday, carrying some 4,500 passengers in total who were able to freely enjoy the city and its attractions without the need for bubble groups

Pilar Martínez

Malaga received the largest disembarkation of cruise passengers since the start of the coronavirus pandemic this Thursday, 30 September, and it confirms the gradual recovery of the sector.

Four ships docked in the port and some 4,500 tourists were able to enjoy the attractions of the city freely and without bubble groups.

It was the first time since the worldwide health crisis began that so many cruise ships docked on the capital of the Costa del Sol at the same, although the four were only be seen together for around half an hour, between six and six thirty in the afternoon, according to information from the port authorities.

Two of the cruise ships, this Thursday morning, in the Port of Malaga. / MIGUE FERNÁNDEZ

For two of the ships it was the first time they docked in the port. The P&O ship Iona, which is making its first international trip, arrived with 3,400 passengers at seven in the morning at the north berth. It is considered the third-largest cruise ship in the world, with a capacity for 5,200 passengers, although it will stop in Malaga with limited capacity due to the pandemic. It is a 344-metre-long, 54-metre-wide ship, with 17 decks, which set off on this cruise from Southampton.


The World Navigator, of the Mystic Cruises shipping company, that was carrying 144 passengers, also docked today. The company, owned by the Portuguese businessman Mario Ferreira, is positioned in the smaller and more intimate ship sector, which allows a more personalised service on board. It will leave Malaga at the stroke of midnight.

Also at seven in the morning, the smallest of the cruise ships that arrived today, the Clio, from the Grand Circle Cruise company, docked at the Palmeral terminal. It did so with just 42 travellers, given that its maximum capacity is 95 and it comes with a reduced capacity. On board are tourists with high purchasing power who enjoy a boat in the shape of a megayacht. The Clio is one hundred metres long and has 45 cabins, all exterior.

At eight o'clock in the morning a regular visitor arrived at the South berth, the Mein Schiff 3, with 986 passengers onboard.

No bubble groups

Malaga’s Port authorities have explained that “since last week, the shipping companies have made the excursion model more flexible, so it is no longer necessary to carry them out in bubble groups. The arrival of passengers, all vaccinated, the implementation of health protocols on board ships and the decrease in the incidence of Covid, have allowed us to take this step towards normality.”