Recent events in the cruise industry indicate that South Africa is becoming an increasingly popular port of call for large ocean-going passenger liners, and Cape Town has set itself the goal of becoming a global cruise ship destination.

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Queen Mary 2. Photo: Twitter.

On 19 November Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth docked in Cape Town. Last week the MCS Orchestra, reported to carry a full complement of 3,200 passengers and 990 crew, arrived in Durban after a 29-night trip from Italy. The MSC Orchestra joins the MSC Opera to use Durban as its home port, to allow the company “to meet more fully the growth in demand we have experienced over the past few years.”

“An additional 32 vessels and 67 stopovers for 2020/21”

Talking about the incredible growth in the industry, Cape Town Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities & Asset Management, James Vos, told Tourism Update, “Just this season alone (October to April), 30 vessels are expected to make 49 stopovers in Cape Town.

“We have also witnessed a steady increase in cruise passenger arrivals, from 47,145 during the 2017/18 season, to 52,580 during the 2018/19 season. An additional 32 vessels and 67 stopovers have been confirmed for the 2020/21 season.”

Vos reportedly said Cape Town wanted to work towards becoming a sea destination the way it had become a destination by air.

According to Cape Town Tourism, a cruise ship carrying about 2,000 passengers results in spending to the value of approximately R2m (€122,000) a day.

Gearing up for increased traffic, Cape Town harbour did a R59 million expansion in 2015, while Durban has said it will spend R200 million on the development of its cruise facility.


It was reported in Berea Mail that last weekend ground was turned on the construction of the new terminal. MSC, which is the harbour’s main client at the moment, is a stakeholder in the development.

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The MSC Orchestra arrives in Durban. Photo: Twitter/TransnetNPA.

With the cruise season now started, other ships are scheduled to be in harbour. The German Phoenix Reisen’s Albatross is meant to leave Cape Town on 26 November and dock in Monaco just before Christmas.

Other major cruise lines with Cape Town or Durban on their itineraries include Seabourn and Oceania, which in February has a cruise from Cape Town to Singapore.

For trips inside South Africa and to neigbhouring countries, many voyages are between Cape Town and Durban, and include Port Elizabeth, although this year MSC has added a New Years voyage, 14 days from Durban to Portuguese Island in Mozambique; Nosy Be, Madagascar; Port Victoria, Seychelles; and Port Louis in Mauritius.

For more information on cruises out of South Africa, click here.