Cruise season officially opens as Queen Elizabeth glides into Cape Town waters

2019-11-20 16:45
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The Durban Cruise Terminal has just started a R200 million construction process which promises a world-class Bon Voyage! and Welcome! port for cruisers. 

PICS: 'This is going to change the face of Durban' - R200 million cruise terminal construction starts

Similarly, though on a slightly smaller scale, Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront’s R59-million redevelopment of the Cruise Terminal in 2015 has seen a spike in growth as this lucrative tourism industry as ever-larger vessels and more cruise line operators opt to stop over. 

“We focus on bucket-list destinations,” says luxury cruise liner Cunard in a press conference on 19 November 2019. The day the MS Cunard Queen Elizabeth docked in the Mother City port.


(PHOTO: Cunard)

The V&A Waterfront’s Andre Blaine, Executive Manager Marine and Industrial said, “While in port, these visitors all use local transport and book tours, visit local restaurants and tourist attractions and shop for gifts, all of which positively impacts on the economy and job creation. Many passengers and crew also choose to extend their stay in the city, and they either fly home from here or fly to the next port to catch up with their ship.” But it does not end there.

While in harbour, many foreign crew disembark to return home and some are replaced by South African crew. The services required by these ships also create the ocean economy’s ripple effect. While here, they restock with local goods such as food, wines, flowers and more. Some ships also require maintenance creating further employment for ship builders, welders, electricians, and a host of other technical crew.

Blaine said, “Cape Town is fast becoming known as the ‘turn-around’ port for both inbound and outbound international arrivals and departures, and we aim to build on this success. Our objective is to become the number one port in Southern Africa for cruise liner business.

“There has also been a significant increase in interest from international cruise line operators in adding Cape Town to their itinerary. These include Tui Cruises, Aidaaura, MSC and Royal Caribbean. We are also seeing growth in local cruising along the coast between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.”On 16 November, the MSC Orchestra arrived in the Durban harbour ahead of its maiden voyage ahead of the 2019/2020 cruise season. 

And on 16 November 2019, one of the leading cruise lines in South Africa, celebrated the arrival of MSC Orchestra in the Durban Cruise Terminal, the only way they know how – with glitz, glamour and absolute grace. 


(PHOTO: Marisa Crous)

“This is the first time MSC Orchestra is visiting South African shores and we are proud to welcome her to Durban,” says Ross Volk, Managing Director at MSC Cruises South Africa. 

In its last cruise season, from November 2018 to April 2019, MSC Cruises saw a 25% increase in guest numbers compared to the same period in 2017/2018. Cruising is becoming an increasingly popular option for South Africans, as it is an all-inclusive and affordable vacation for all types of holidaymakers. Food, accommodation, and almost all activities are included in the cruise fare, which greatly appeals to the constrained budgets of many South Africans. 

READ: This is what a R2bn cruise ship upgrade entails 

What’s coming?

For the upcoming cruise season beginning in October 2019 and ending in April 2020, 21 different ships from 11 cruise liner companies will dock at the Cape Town Cruise Terminal’s E berth. One of the ships, the Aidamira, will return as many as 17 times, while the MSC Orchestra will return six times, the Azamara Quest four times, the Nautica three times and the MS Bremen and the Albatross will each make two visits. This culminates in 57 ship visits for the season.

These are confirmed bookings. Conservatively, the Cruise Terminal will welcome roughly 100 000 passengers and 30 000 crew.

In the season ahead Capetonians can look forward to more double arrivals, notably the Artania and MSC Orchestra on 17 January 2020 and three ships, the Norwegian Spirit, World Odyssey and Aidamira on 23 March 2020. 

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, the biggest cruise liner in the world at 365m, will return to Cape Town on 31 March 2020.

Why cruise? 

A cruise holiday offers something for everyone, from the adventurous sporty types, to people who prefer a more relaxed vibe. Children under the age of 18 cruise for free if they stay in the same cabin as their parents, and there is a range of free kids’ clubs to entertain them. Local cruises can last anywhere from 3 to 11 nights, accommodating all kinds of holiday budgets. 

MSC Orchestra can host 3 225 passengers, and will be doing 39 cruises in Southern African waters over the next six months, travelling to destinations such as Pomene, Cape Town, Portuguese Island, Mauritius and Walvis Bay.  MSC Orchestra boasts a diverse mix of facilities and activities, including 5 restaurants, 8 bars, a theatre, 2 pools, a gym and a spa.  

The concept of growing demand from consumers for cruise holidays has also led to MSC Cruises’ decision to bring two ships to South African shores for next year’s 2020/2021 cruise season. This marks the first time that two different class MSC Cruises’ ships – namely MSC Opera and MSC Musica – will be deployed in the country at the same time. This means an additional 50 000 people can discover why cruising is such a great holiday option. 

Keen for a cruise? Seems now is the time to embark...

*Compiled by Marisa Crous

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