SA Cruise News

Kids cruise free promotions key to future of SA cruises says KZN tourism head

The family cruise market is a fast-growing sector and is key to the sustained growth of the South African cruise industry, says Phindile Makwakwa, the the acting CEO for Tourism KwaZulu-Natal.

“Children have long had a say in where their families go on holiday and what activities they want to get involved in once they get there,” she writes in a comment piece for IOL. “In America, it is said that 40% of teens influence where the family holidays will take place.”

Children have long had a say in the types of vacations the family takes, and they’re pushing more for cruises

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In addition, parents like bargains and good value for money, and thousands of South African families cruise with their children in local waters every year. MSC, whose home port is Durban for the South African cruise season, offers free cruising for children under 18, sharing with two adults.

Parents only need to pay the mandatory port charges for passengers younger than 18.

When you consider that the repeat rate for cruise guests lies between 40% and 50%, the benefit for the cruise lines becomes clear. They’re able to use passengers’ children as an added push factor to book another cruise holiday.

Phindile Makwakwa, acting CEO for Tourism KwaZulu-Natal

“Before children come along, couples are able to travel out of season when it is cheaper and quieter. However, once they have children, holiday choices change and their look for family friendly products and experiences,” says Makwakwa.

If the children are already able to cruise for free, and if 40% to 50% of kids are pushing their parents to book another cruise, the growth model becomes self-fulfilling.

“It is much the same in Europe and Australia where decisions are taken as a family as a whole with parents granting their children a voice that is equal to their own,” adds Makwakwa.

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And the United States, Europe and Australia are some of the biggest source markets for cruise passengers booked on South African itineraries, apart from MSC Cruises’ domestic voyages from Durban.

“South Africa has countless attractions that appeal to parents and their children alike, so although children have a say, their parents are just as keen on the destinations that they like,” says Makwakwa.

“The good thing about introducing children to hospitality and holidays is that they get used to going away and that bodes well for the tourism industry of the future.”

The cruising kids of today will eventually become paying, adult passengers, and if they have had an enjoyable experience on a South African cruise in their childhood, they’re more likely to return.

“[The country] will have earned their loyalty and they are likely to return one day with their own families,” says Makwakwa.

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