More than 20 luxury cruise ships operated by 17 international cruise lines will call at South Africa’s ports during the 2017/18 cruise season which started in October and continues until early May.
Operators that have included the country on their routes this year – a number of them with multiple vessels – are: Costa Crociere, Crystal Cruises, Cunard Lines, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, Hapag-Lloyd, Holland America Line, MSC Cruises, Noble Caledonia, Oceania Cruises, Phoenix Reisen, Polar Quest, Ponant, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Line, Silversea Cruises and Transocean Tours.
On October 30, MSC Sinfonia became the first international cruise liner to arrive at the Port of Durban for the 2017/18 cruise season, carrying around 2,300 mainly European and South African passengers and ending off a 23-day itinerary from Venice in Italy.
While Semester at Sea’s ‘floating college campus’ World Odyssey made a return to Cape Town early in October, it is Phoenix Reisen’s Albatros which is regarded as the first true cruise ship of the season to call at the country’s other cruise ports. Her South African leg kicked off on November 8 in Cape Town and her other ports of call are Mossel Bay, Port Elizabeth, East London, Durban and Richards Bay.
Transnet National Ports Authority’s (TNPA) Chief Executive, Shulami Qalinge said: “As the South African Port Authority we have positioned Durban and Cape Town as stimulus cruise home ports while Richards Bay, Mossel Bay, Port Elizabeth and East London continue to receive their share of cruise ships.
“We are making progress in our efforts to introduce new and modern cruise terminals with safe, reliable and efficient marine services that will provide an ideal gateway to a unique South African experience. World-class cruise facilities in our ports will continue to attract global operators, which has economic spinoffs for tour operators, hotels, game reserves, lodges and tourist attractions in our port cities,” she said.
TNPA is at the tail end of negotiations and will shortly finalize its Terminal Operator Agreement with Kwa Zulu Cruise Terminal for design, financing, construction and operation of the new Cruise Terminal Facility for a 25-year concession period in the Port of Durban.
In Cape Town, the V&A Waterfront was granted a concession from TNPA in 2015 for operation, maintenance and transfer of ownership of the Cape Town passenger terminal back to TNPA after a period of 20 years. The operator has a three-phase growth plan in place for the facility.
TNPA’s intention is for the terminals to be integrated with their cities and to allow secondary uses such as for events, meetings and conferences.