Cape Town - In a boon for South Africa's tourism industry, around 20 luxury cruise vessels will dock at the country's ports over the summer and autumn seasons.
The ships, which are operated by 17 international cruise lines, will dock at different ports around the country.
Among them will be the familiar MSC Sinfonia, Queen Mary II, Queen Elizabeth and even the RMS St Helena.
“As the South African Port Authority, we have positioned Durban and Cape Town as stimulus cruise home ports while Richards Bay, Mossel Bay, Port Elizabeth and East London continue to receive their share of cruise ships,” Transnet National Ports Authority chief executive Shulami Qalinge said.
She added they were making progress in efforts to introduce new and modern cruise terminals.
“With safe, reliable and efficient marine services that will provide an ideal gateway to a unique South African experience, world-class cruise facilities in our ports will continue to attract global operators, which has economic spin-offs for tour operators, hotels, game reserves, lodges and tourist attractions in our port cities,” she said.
Last month, MSC Sinfonia became the first international cruise liner to arrive at the Port of Durban for the 2017 and 2018 cruise season, carrying around 2300 mainly European and South African passengers and ending a 23-day itinerary from Venice in Italy.
While Semester at Sea’s “floating college campus” World Odyssey made a return to Cape Town early last month, it is Phoenix Reisen’s Albatross which is regarded as the first true cruise ship of the season to call at the country's other cruise ports.
Cape Town Tourism said this can potentially lead to a massive tourism boost for the economy.
“We look forward to the cruise ship season in Cape Town since passengers and crews contribute to the tourism economy.
"The benefits from cruise tourism include spending by cruise passengers and crew; shore-side staffing by the cruise lines for their headquarters, marketing and tour operations; expenditure by the cruise lines for goods and services necessary for cruise operations; spending by the cruise lines for port services; and expenditure by cruise lines for maintenance,” said Enver Dumin, chief executive of Cape Town Tourism.
“Passengers are ideally placed to enjoy the city's attractions since the port provides great access to the city centre.”