TO OR Not to cruise- it’s a million dollar question that a legend has to ponder about?
Okay let me put you at ease, recently the world’s largest privately-owned cruise company MSC, confirmed its investment in South Africa worth millions as part of Blue Ocean Economy.
Cruising in will be two major ships (Lirica and Musica Class) into our shores between 2020 and 2021 respectively- that equates to 50 000 additional cruise passengers in mzansi, whom many originate from Gauteng.
“Our decision to increase the number of ships for the South African cruise season in 2020/2021 is due to the significant growth in demand we have seen in our guest numbers over the past few years,” says Ross Volk- MD for MSC Cruises South Africa, at a media brief held at the company’s head office in Sandton.
The decision to invest in African Tourism is part of the company’s vote of confidence in Pres Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa, and commitment to build infrastructure in other States such as Mozambique- a popular cruising destination for South Africans – and continued collaboration with the Namibian government, as Walvis Bay is one of the ports that MSC Cruises sails to.
Durban port terminal, as part of tourists infrastructure development has seen over R200m investment in the construction of the new world-class Durban Cruise Terminal as part of the KwaZulu Cruise Terminal Consortium (KTC).
That’s what we call Blue Ocean Economy, says Volk an accountant by profession- with a tongue in cheek.
He continued:” Our most recent season saw a 25% increase in guests compared to the same period in 2017/2018. MSC Cruises has been bringing bigger and better ships to this country and enriching our itineraries as more South Africans are realising that a cruise is an affordable, convenient and exciting holiday option.”
MSC Opera, which can host approximately 2,500 guests and was completely refurbished in 2014 as part of the Company’s Renaissance Programme, will offer 22 cruises next season alongside MSC Musica. MSC Musica can cater for approximately 3,200 guests and will offer 40 cruises.
From December 2020 to March 2021 MSC Opera, which will be homeported in Cape Town, will join MSC Musica homeported in Durban.
Highlight of the 2020/2021 cruise itinerary is MSC Cruises’ 14-day New Year cruise around Southern Africa. The cruise will depart from Durban on 26 December and will incorporate destinations including Portuguese Island; Nosy Be, Madagascar; followed by Port Victoria, Seychelles; and then Port Louis in Mauritius, returning to Durban on 9 January.
What makes this cruise particularly special is that it will be the first time that Port Victoria has been included in the cruise offering from Durban outside of MSC Cruises’ Grand Voyage.
Showing off his iSizulu accent Volk said as part of the growth and innovation they will launch an app that tracks down kids as parents down their respective forbidden waters and will provide training to 5000 students keen to become crew members.
Applications open in October this year.
Guests wishing to experience the delights of an MSC Cruises holiday in the 2019/2020 season can book onto MSC Orchestra, who will make her maiden voyage to South Africa in November, offering three-, four- and five-night sailings around the South African coastline until April 2020.
Highlights of these itineraries include Pomene Bay in Mozambique – a marine safari experience complete with its own beach club – Portuguese Island, and Maputo.
Cruises are increasingly becoming an appealing holiday choice for South Africans as they offer an all-inclusive vacation – all food, accommodation, and most activities are included in the cruise fare.
The diversity of the offering also appeals to tourists; local cruises can last from anywhere between three to 14 nights, include a variety of destinations, and cater for all types of holidaymakers and people of all ages.
A game-changer in the world of cruises, the company has achieved 800% growth in its first ten years, building a global reputation in the industry and one of the youngest cruise fleets at sea.
MSC Cruises’ holiday experiences are sold across the globe through a distribution network in 81 countries.
The Company employs over 30,500 people worldwide, both ashore and on board its ships, says Angelo Capurro, Global Executive Director at MSC Cruises, who also pointed out: “South Africa is an important market for MSC Cruises and reflects our broader growing investment in cruising globally.
We have committed to launching 13 next-generation ships between 2017 and 2027, which will bring our fleet total to 25 and see our passenger capacity more than triple. Our total investment in these ships amounts to approximately R200 billion.”
So forget about flying and being on the road- cruising is an in thing- folks!
Image SLM (‘Zulu boy’. Ross Volk- MD for MSC Cruises South Africa- welcoming aboard members of the press at the launch).