SOUTH Africa’s ports are ramping up for a bumper cruise season with at least eight luxury cruise lines and over 10 passenger vessels of varying sizes set to ferry international and domestic tourists across the country’s port cities.
The South African cruise season kicked off officially in October with a number of smaller vessels already calling at our ports. They are en route to and from travel hot spots in Africa, Europe, the Far East, the Mediterranean, South America, and more.
However, the MSC Sinfonia – the largest and most popular cruise ship in the local cruise calendar – marked a highlight in the 2015/16 cruise calendar when she arrived in her home port of Durban in the early hours of Thursday, 19 November. This is her first South African call this season.
Fresh from a €50 million revamp, the vessel has been upgraded with new features and facilities, including lengthening by an extra 24 metres and the addition of around 200 extra balcony cabins with capacity for around 500 more passengers.
The upgrades called for collaboration between TNPA and MSC to ensure that the longer vessel could be accommodated at South African ports.
TNPA’s port manager for the Port of Durban, Moshe Motlohi, said: “The newly lengthened MSC Sinfonia will now be accommodated at the longer M berth in the Port of Durban, however, other cruise liners will continue to be served at Durban’s N Shed cruise ship facility, which has recently been upgraded through a joint initiative between TNPA and MSC. This has brought the terminal more in line with international standards and will cater for the growth of the local cruise tourism sector.”
N Shed now has a number of new features for improved passenger experience such as signage, immigration and check-in desks, a fast-track lounge, baggage scanners and conveyor belt, an air-conditioning system, extra seating, balustrades, turnstiles and sail shades, ramps and a back-up generator and UPS in the event of load shedding.
TNPA also recently awarded the tender for the upgrade of the cruise facility at E berth in the Port of Cape Town to the V&A Waterfront and is finalising the Terminal Operator Agreement with the preferred bidder. The V&A Waterfront has proposed a three-phase growth plan involving capital spend aimed at enhancing the passenger experience. The terminal upgrade makes up the first phase of a larger site revamp. Once completed, the port’s passenger terminal will be able to accommodate its current and future passenger vessel fleet.
The MSC Sinfonia is calling at Durban on 11 December and returning on 14 December and again on 18 December, returning on 21 December.