SA Cruise News

Inside the redeveloped Cape Town Cruise Terminal at E-berth

Cape Town Cruise Terminal was opened to the public in May, 2018 after a R80-million redevelopment that turned the converted precooling facility for fruit exports into a true global cruise terminal.

The redevelopment was announced in 2014, when tourism officials in the city finally agreed that the passenger terminal, open on both sides and with no passenger facilities, was not fit for purpose. Transnet awarded V&A Waterfront as the preferred bidder to manage the cruise terminal redevelopment project.

In December 2015, V&A Waterfront officially signed a 20-year agreement to manage the terminal.

The upgrades to the building took place in two phases. First, the terminal got four new walls to create an enclosed building and the ground floor was retrofitted for passengers.


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The retrofit included the creation of customs facilities, immigration desks, passenger infrastructure and baggage handling services.

Phase two commenced last year and saw the upper level of the terminal retrofitted to create a mixed space for events, restaurants and retail tenants.

The parking area was improved and a viewing deck was opened to provide locals with a view of visiting cruise ships.

Cape Town welcomed around 65,000 passengers during the 2017/2018 season, with passengers typically staying at port for around three days. That number is just a fraction of the potential demand for South African cruises that officials say exists in the market.

Until now, however, the country’s premier cruise port has been unable to attract many cruise ships due to its outdated state. In 2018 alone, after the new terminal was opened, AIDA Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises both announced a new series of roundtrip Cape Town cruises.


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According to David Green, V&A Waterfront CEO, the redevelopment of the terminal is intended to compliment the city’s tourism and hospitality offerings, which are its two strongest points.

“What is special about the way the Waterfront is set up is that there are not many places in the world where you get to sit and be this close to these ships,” says Green.

This “soulful experience” is similar to the harbour activity still taking place at the Waterfront, which “you don’t get anywhere else”, he adds.

Where cruise terminals in other global cities are often located in ports outside the city centre, in Cape Town the cruise terminal is situated in the heart of the Mother City’s tourist district.

“Our vision was really that it would be an extension of the Waterfront. As soon as you walk in you’ve got our tourism information people,” he says.

“And the key was the experience of the passengers is special and unique. Historically, and in many ports around the world, these kinds of vessels of this size would be quite deep into the bowels of the port, and there’s movement and activity and it’s quite inhospitable. They come from luxury and are sort of dumped into this wasteland.”

Cape Town is one of the top five natural ports, Green says, and visitors are greeted by Table Mountain and the Zeitz Mocca building when entering the port. It was important that this sense of destination be carried through the terminal, to create a positive first impression of the Mother City.

“Cruise liners, in the tourism space, are the fastest growing [market]. Something like seven out of 10 passengers who take one cruise will take a repeat,” Green explains.

“As beautiful as Cape Town is, if a passenger’s experience on arrival is unpleasant, it can affect their entire perception of the City. From international experience we know that the cruise liner industry offers enormous potential for tourism growth, so we need to extend the world-class experience the V&A Waterfront is known for to the cruise terminal,” Green says.

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