MSC Cruises upbeat about SA’s cruise economy as it records positive numbers for cruise season

The Nelson Mandela Cruise Terminal in Durban, which is a port of entry for cruise ships coming into Durban. Picture: Supplied

The Nelson Mandela Cruise Terminal in Durban, which is a port of entry for cruise ships coming into Durban. Picture: Supplied

Published May 27, 2024


WITH cruise season officially over, MSC Cruises said the future of South Africa’s cruise industry is on a positive trajectory.

According to the cruise line, MSC Splendida took just under 121 000 passengers on memorable ocean holidays during the summer cruise season, which is good news not just for cruise companies but also for the South African economy as a whole.

Ross Volk, managing director of MSC Cruises South Africa, said the cruise company experienced a good 2023/24 summer season and the company was optimistic that further growth would be experienced in the 2024/25 season.

“The current trends are looking positive. In fact, South Africans are increasingly seeing cruising as the best value proposition for holidaying because it is an all-inclusive price for a unique experience,” said Volk.

He highlighted that cruising was not just great value but also increasingly being seen as a way to experience destinations in a new way and to get under the skin of the locals.

“This emphasis on experience is particularly a mark of Generation X and Millennials, who are turning towards cruising in greater numbers,” said Volk.

South Africa is one of MSC Cruises’ Top 10 markets by volume and Volk revealed that MSC Cruises was seeing a large increase in passengers coming from across Africa and even overseas to cruise from South Africa.

Close to 3.7% of the country’s gross domestic product in 2023 could be attributed to tourism, which employed 4.7% of the workforce, and the Department of Tourism highlighted that the sector contributed R287 billion to the economy.

“Providing goods and services to the cruising market is one huge job creator but the quest for deeper experiences that reflect local cultures also opens up vast new opportunities for individuals and communities,” said Volk.

“The expected growth in cruising numbers has the potential to shift the dial on our stubborn unemployment figures by providing entrepreneurs with greater scope,” he added.

With the close of cruise season, MSC Splendida bade farewell to South African waters and the recently refurbished MSC Musica will return to local South African shores for the upcoming season.