SA cruise season is under full steam
THE South African 2017/18 cruise season launched yesterday with the arrival of the first international cruise liner, MSC Sinfonia, at the Port of Durban.
Carrying 2 300 European and South African passengers, the vessel arrived on a 23-day itinerary from Venice in Italy and was welcomed with a tug spray, marimba band and traditional dancers.
Transnet National Ports Authority’s (TNPA) Port of Durban manager, Moshe Motlohi said Durban is scheduled to receive 13 cruise liners this season – up from eight which called at the port during the 2016/ 17 season.
“It gives us great pleasure to welcome MSC Cruises and MSC SINFONIA back to her South African home port each year. We are also delighted to welcome some new operators and vessels to the port this season.
“These 13 vessels represent 11 cruise line companies that have shown confidence in Durban as a route this season,” he added.
TNPA said in a statement that the luxury cruise sector is one of the fastest growing segments in the tourism industry and has the potential to grow the economy and create jobs.
Internationally the cruise market has grown from 5 million passengers to over 20 million passengers over the last 17 years.
Passenger numbers at the Port of Durban have grown from 171 510 in 2015 to 209 712 in 2016, an increase of 22%.
Motlohi said TNPA was at the tail end of negotiations and would shortly finalise its Terminal Operator Agreement with KwaZulu Cruise Terminal Pty Ltd (KCT) – a Joint Venture between MSC Cruises SA (a subsidiary of MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company SA) and Africa Armada Consortium (a black empowerment partner) – which was announced as the preferred bidder for design, financing, construction, operation, maintenance and transfer of the new cruise terminal facility for a 25-year concession period in the Port of Durban.
MSC has also secured a new destination in Northern Mozambique to include in its regional cruise schedule. The South African cruise season typically runs from late October/ early November to early May. – Mercury Reporter