Picture: 123RF/OLGA GAVRILOVA
Picture: 123RF/OLGA GAVRILOVA

Cape Town is seeing a steady increase in the number of cruise ships visiting the city.

Between October and January 20, a total of 17,518 people disembarked in the city from vessels carrying 6,562 crew members. More than 17,500 people have embarked on ships in the same period.

January marks the peak of cruise ship season in Cape Town which traditionally runs from October to April, and there have been 17 stops made in the city’s port in January 2019.

For the 2019-2020 season, 30 vessels are expected to make 49 stops in Cape Town. While for the 2020-2021 season, 32 vessels, with 67 stops are already confirmed.

“We’re seeing cruising growing in popularity around the world, and we’re also starting to see both an increase in local cruising along our coast, as well as increased numbers of international operators using Cape Town as a turn-around port, Western Cape MEC for economic opportunities Beverley Schäfer said.

“Confirmed cruises for the next few years have also shown real growth and we are very positive about  the potential of this industry.

“The Western Cape tourism industry currently sustains over 300,000 direct and indirect jobs, and by increasing the number of cruise liners visiting Cape Town, we can create further opportunities for work and skills development,” she said.

Among the luxury liners to have visited the city are the Queen Elizabeth the World Odyssey, the Europa 2, the Seven Seas Explorer, the Nautica and the Amadea. 

The MSC Musica, which had to hold off on docking as a result of rough winds last week, was finally able to dock on Saturday morning.  The Ocean Dream, also known as the Peace Boat, also docked at the weekend.

Vessels that will still be calling in this season include the Queen Victoria, the Silver Cloud, the Pacific Princess and the Viking Sun.

“The Cruise Lines International Association estimates that a total of 30-million people are expected to cruise somewhere in the world in 2019. SA, and in particular Cape Town, have the potential to grow our reputation as a unique and new cruise destination,” Schäfer said.

“The development of a dedicated cruise ship terminal operated by the V&A Waterfront and opened last year, has played an important role in being able to grow this offering. We’ve seen cruising numbers grow in leaps and bounds in recent years and we’re seeing dramatic increases in numbers for the coming 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 seasons,” she said.

Schafer noted that people were beginning to fly to Cape Town specifically to board cruises, which added to tourism revenue.

Some vessels are also doing crew changeovers in the city, meaning that the inbound and outbound crew members also make use of hotels and other facilities while in the city.

ensorl@businesslive.co.za