Dust raised over Bay cruise ship berths
UNLESS a ‘dust free’ berth can be found for passenger ships that visit the Port of Richards Bay, the future prospect of luxury liner operators continuing to include this region on their cruise itineraries is slim. That caution was given on Friday during a welcoming function on board the world’s most luxurious cruise vessel, the MS Europa2. The vessel had berthed at the working 606 multi-purpose terminal, where the hundreds of affluent passengers looked out over a decidedly non-touristfriendly view. With a few crafters selling their wares under the burning sun, there was nothing that would encourage the ocean travel sector. But it was dust concerns that dominated the conversation prior to the handing over of mementos of the ship’s visit. ‘Last time I was here, it took days to rid the vessel of the dust and we were inundated with complaints from the passengers,’ said Capt Ulf Wolter, Master of the Europa 2. ‘We might have to consider other options as the dust factor is seriously not acceptable.’ While passenger vessels are traditionally berthed at the Small Craft Harbour, this is dependent on that berth’s availability, plus factors such as the vessel’s size. But that particular berth has been earmarked for the future ship repair facility and in any event, prevailing winds that coincide with the tourism season are either strong north-easterly or south-westerly, both of which carry significant airborne dust from the busy working harbour. Shipping agencies agree on the need for a protected, dedicated passenger terminal. It is something not only the port authorities must urgently address, but also something the city and the region must push for as they strive for ocean economy benefits. TNPA officials at the welcoming function of Friday were in agreement that the present cruise liner berth issue was a problem that needs to be workshopped. But finding the right location as the port plans to bulk up its import and export capability and to diversify into new sectors won’t be easy to remedy, especially as indications are that the number of visiting passenger ships is set to increase greatly over the next two seasons.
It took days to rid the vessel of the dust and we were inundated with complaints from the passengers
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