Cape Town gains momentum with cruising

Cruise Cape Town, a specialised unit within Wesgro, has reported a bumper 2022/23 cruise season. It is expecting 75 ship visits and five new vessels (docking in Cape Town for the first time) before the season ends in May 2023.

The 75 ship visits will carry an estimated 200 000 passengers throughout the current season, which started in October 2022.

This was revealed by Sune Cornelius, Cruise Business Development Manager Western Cape at Wesgro, speaking at the recent SATSA Western Cape Chapter meeting.

She said the2022/23 season was also the first year that Cape Town had seen three ships in port operating turnaround cruises at the same time.

Cruise Cape Town, which launched just before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, is making headway.

The project’s four main focus areas for the time being include:

  • Recovery and retention;
  • Removing constraints;
  • Solving for flexibility (traffic, etc); and
  • Promoting and increasing regional spread (to other ports like Saldana and Mossel Bay).

Cruise Cape Town will soon join South African Tourism at the Seatrade USA Cruise Global trade show, taking place in the US in March. The two organisations will be joined by delegations from the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal, which includes KZN Tourism and the Durban Cruise Terminal and Port (KCT Terminal).

Seatrade is billed as the world’s largest annual cruise industry event and attracts more than 500 exhibitors from every sector – technology, entertainment, health and safety, and others. It is the first time South Africa will have this type of presence at the show. (Cruise Cape Town attended Seatrade USA and Seatrade Med in 2022.)

Cruise Cape Town hopes to attract more cruise lines and boost destination South Africa’s profile at the global event.

Develop community tourism

During the SATSA briefing, Cornelius also described the “enormous potential” from working with cruise lines to promote and develop more community tourism.

She also reported that Mossel Bay would have received three ships by the end of the current season, and that Saldanha Bay had been identified as a good back-up for port services and times when there was not enough capacity in Cape Town or when weather conditions were poor.

The ports have also been equipped to manage immigration and customs services, which bodes well for future seasons. Cruise Cape Town is also actively working with stakeholders to see more tourism product and local tours added in Saldanha and places like the Overberg region, which is famed for seasonal whale watching.

Cornelius told SATSA members that Cruise Cape Town would continue to look for opportunities for local businesses and connect them to overseas cruise lines. Cruise lines were extremely willing to give back to the ports they visited and benefit surrounding communities, she said.

Achievements to date

So far during the 2022/23 season, Cruise Cape Town has met with a high-level Silversea Cruises delegation, worked on an awareness initiative together with MSC Cruises about the cruise line’s South Africa sailings and its international programme, and has been involved with trade educationals with the likes of Explora Journeys, Azamara Cruises, Carnival UK/Australia in collaboration with Abercrombie & Kent DMC. These were just a few of the highlights Cornelius shared.

She said the Western Cape was managing to attract more turnaround cruises (41 turnaround cruises will operate from Cape Town this season). Turnaround cruises are good for the province because passengers generally book pre- or post-cruise accommodation and packages.

A total of 33 turnaround calls have been slated for the 2023/24 season, with 26 ships due to visit the province between October 2023 and May 2024.

Cruise Cape Town said it had identified eight more new cruise lines, over and above the five new suppliers joining this season. Cornelius added that South Africa was also becoming a popular stop for expedition cruises, which is a lucrative market segment.

Impact study

Lastly, she revealed to SATSA members that a cruise industry impact study was currently under way, which is intended to help track the benefits of the industry for the province, local businesses and communities. Cruise Cape Town expects to share the results over the next few weeks.

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