By Sharon Waugh
Although MSC has long had a monopoly on the mainstream cruising market in South Africa, they are about to get some competition from Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL).
The Norwegian Jade, a 2400-passenger ship, arrived on our shores this weekend and will begin cruising from Cape Town on Wednesday.
Having had two false starts, this addition to the South African cruising market is long-awaited.
The cruise line was originally scheduled to begin cruising from our shores in March 2020, just a few days after most of the cruise line industry was suspended following the outbreak of Covid-19.
Their second attempt was planned for December of 2021 but was again delayed with the discovery of the Omicron variant.
The Norwegian Jade is currently on a repositioning cruise from Dubai, stopping at various destinations in the UAE, Oman, Seychelles, Madagascar, Mauritius and Reunion before visiting Richard’s Bay, Gqeberha and Mossel Bay on its way to Cape Town.
From this week, it will be offering 12-day itineraries from Cape Town, calling at Mossel Bay, Gqeberha, Richard’s Bay and Durban before heading up the west coast to Lüderitz and Walvis Bay in Namibia.
It will then reposition back to Dubai at the end of January.
Cruises are a popular holiday choice, offering travel to a number of destinations from the same floating hotel, with dining and entertainment usually included.
Norwegian Cruise Line is known for its freestyle approach to cruising as the first cruise line to eliminate assigned dining times.
The company also has a more flexible approach to dress codes than other cruise lines that often deny those who are casually dressed from dining in the dining rooms on formal nights.
While many cruise itineraries require expensive international flights and visas for South Africans, the upcoming Norwegian Jade itinerary is visa-free and enables South Africans to see many different parts of the country and Namibia after joining the ship in Cape Town.
Currently, Norwegian Cruise Line is the third largest cruise line in the world, and according to Cruise Market Watch, it controls 8.7% of the market share compared to 6.5% of that of MSC.
Many cruisers want to explore new itineraries while remaining loyal to a specific cruise line.
Not only is this good news for South Africans who have more options when choosing a cruise vacation, but it is also sure to draw more international tourists to our country.