Durban, 18 November 2019 – MSC Cruises hosted the travel trade, dignitaries, and the media for an overnight stay onboard the MSC ORCHESTRA cruise liner on Saturday, 16 November. TourismTattler.com‘s publishing editor, Des Langkilde attended the event.
The event followed the arrival of the MSC ORCHESTRA cruise liner on her maiden voyage to South African shores. MSC ORCHESTRA was ushered onto the quayside at the Durban port’s M berth as traditional dancers and a marimba band entertained over 3000 disembarking European and South African passengers. MSC ORCHESTRA was built in 2007 for MSC Cruises as the second ship of the Musica class and boasts 1,275 cabins.
Her Durban call ended a 29-night itinerary from Genoa in Italy and prior to Durban, she had called in Reunion. The ship has been introduced on the local route following the success enjoyed by MSC Cruises with previous vessels including MSC SINFONIA, MSC OPERA and MSC MUSICA.
2020/21 Cruise Season
Addressing the media during an onboard press conference, Ross Volk, MD for MSC Cruises South Africa said that the Company will be bringing two ships to South Africa’s shores for the 2020/2021 cruise season. “This will mark the first time that two different class MSC Cruises’ ships (Lirica and Musica Class) will be deployed in the country simultaneously and will mean that 50,000 additional cruise passengers can discover why cruising in South Africa is booming,” said Volk.
From December 2020 to March 2021 MSC Opera will be homeported in Cape Town and MSC Musica will be homeported in Durban.
“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,” explained Volk. “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.”
Ocean Cruise Academy
Volk also said that MSC Cruises would be launching a new Ocean Academy to train and certify South African youth in performing various cruise-related service functions. The academy will offer 3-month courses and after completion of the theoretical part, students would be given a further 3-months practical experience onboard one of the local cruises. Successful candidates will then be offered employment on the international circuit.
2019/20 Cruise Season
Guests wishing to experience the delights of an MSC Cruises holiday in the 2019/2020 season can book onto MSC Orchestra for 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.
Durban Cruise Terminal
MSC Cruises’ commitment to improving South Africa’s tourist infrastructure has been particularly noteworthy in its development of the Durban port terminal over the past few years. The most significant of these is its investment of over R200 million in the construction of the new world-class Durban Cruise Terminal as part of the KwaZulu Cruise Terminal Consortium (KTC).
The sod-turning ceremony took place in the afternoon of Saturday, 16 November to mark the start of construction of the new Durban passenger terminal.
“This multi-user terminal will make Durban an even more desirable destination for cruise ships from all over the world,” explained Volk. “It will substantially boost tourism numbers, create thousands of jobs and lead to supplier development. The construction of this state-of-the-art terminal is an exciting project that MSC Cruises is proud to be a part of. All the partners in the initiative will shortly sign off the final design of the terminal and groundbreaking is scheduled to begin in November this year. The design phase took a little longer than we anticipated, but it was vital that we got this right as we want the Durban Cruise Terminal to be an iconic destination. We hope the new port will be operational by January 2021.”
Angelo Capurro, Global Executive Director at MSC Cruises, said, “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.”
Festive season ready
To ensure Durban’s readiness for the bumper festive season, Transnet National Ports Authority’s (TNPA) Dredging Services division has been hard at work getting beaches all along the popular Golden Mile ready to welcome thousands of holidaymakers this festive season. Sand collected by the dredger during TNPA’s usual harbour dredging operations is being discharged onto the new beach area from uShaka beach southwards towards the harbour entrance.
Durban’s cruise sector growth
During the 2019/20 cruise season which runs from October 2019 until late April 2020, at least 23 luxury cruise ships operated by at least 17 international cruise lines are scheduled to call at the country’s six cruise ports. Of these, the Port of Durban is expected to welcome at least 17 cruise liners.
The port’s 2018/19 cruise season figures were up by 29.4% from 197 382 in 2017/18 to 255 422 in 2018/19.
Durban has held the title of Africa’s Leading Cruise Port for three consecutive years in the World Travel Awards for Africa and the Indian Ocean.