The V&A Waterfront’s R59-million redevelopment of the Cruise Terminal in 2015 has stimulated growth in this lucrative tourism industry, as ever-larger vessels and more cruise line operators opt to stop over in the Port of Cape Town.
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 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.
The first time Cape Town had two ships docking on the same day (the Musica and Queen Elizabeth in 18 January 2019) there was enormous excitement. 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. Other ship visits to note include the Queen Elizabeth which is due to dock tomorrow, and the MSC Orchestra on 12 January.
The end of the 2018-2019 cruise season welcomed the arrival of the Viking Sun on her maiden voyage. It was the first occasion that her owner, Viking Ocean Cruises, included South Africa on their itinerary. In addition, last season was the visit of both the Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Victoria of Cunard Lines. Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, the biggest cruise liner in the world at 365m, will return to Cape Town on 31 March 2020.
The first ship ever to be received at the new Cruise Terminal in 2015 was the luxury German liner, the Europa. Since then the harbour has had 150 ship visits, some on multiple occasions. During this period, customs officials at the Cruise Terminal processed 266 149 passengers. This number includes crew who effectively become tourists when they arrive in Cape Town.
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.
The new Cruise Terminal offers the secure, quality service demanded by cruise line operators. Although a dip was recorded in the 2016 and 2017 seasons as a result of the drought, by the close of the 2018-2019 season passenger numbers increased by 19% to 66 601.
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.”
However, it is not just cruise liner passengers who should visit the Cruise Terminal. In 2018 Cape Town’s flagship Panama Jacks seafood restaurant dropped anchor in the Cruise Terminal, from where it continues to provide the best seafood for ships passengers and locals alike.