SA Cruise News

Durban cruise season growth of 30% shows there’s more demand than supply

Nearly 30% more passengers compared to last year embarked on a cruise from the Port of Durban during the 2018/2019 cruise season according to data released by Transnet National Ports Authority.

A total of 255,422 people went on a cruise from the city, primarily aboard MSC Cruises’ ship MSC Musica, the largest cruise ship ever to homeport in South Africa.


MSC Musica in port in Durban during her inaugural South African cruise season

RELATED: MSC Musica heads home after triumphant South African cruise season

RELATED: TUI to homeport Mein Schiff Herz in South Africa for 2020/21 season

This is up from 2017/18 season where 197 382 embarkations and disembarkations were recorded – a 29.4% jump.

The results of the cruise season reiterate previous reports by cruise tourism officials that demand for cruise holidays in South Africa outweigh supply.

While only MSC Musica and the Viking Cruises ship Viking Sky cruised from Durban during the most recent summer cruise season, a further 12 cruise ships made 63 port calls in the city.

“Our growth is largely due to MSC Cruises, which uses the Port of Durban as a home port,” said Acting Port Manager, Nokuzola Nkowane. “MSC Cruises had the larger MSC Musica offering her first cruises locally last season.”

When MSC Cruises first announced that it was replacing MSC Melody with MSC Musica on the South African run, there was some speculation that the much larger ship might prove too big for the market, but the growth shows that the demand is there for larger ships to homeport in KZN.

“She made 42 calls to the Port of Durban, representing the lion’s share of total embarkations and disembarkations recorded,” Nkowane added. “However, we are proud to have also welcomed 12 other world-class operators to the port last season.”

According to Nkowane the TNPA and MSC Cruises’ investment in the Port of Durban is aimed at attracting more cruise lines.

Cruise lines plan their itineraries at least two years in advance and suitable port infrastructure is essential for getting the larger ships to commit to a new region.


The planned Durban Cruise Terminal

RELATED: South Africans buying 35% more cruises in 2019 than last year

RELATED: American evacuated from Seven Seas Explorer during SA cruise

While exciting local excursions and new cruise vessels promising a different experience are big drawcards for the source market, South Africa has the former, but not the latter, and cannot have it until the local cruise infrastructure is improved.

For the coming cruise season MSC Cruises will be introducing yet another of their vessels, MSC Orchestra, but she is a sister ship to MSC Musica. With the current infrastructure in place at the port, the cruise line cannot bring any of its larger ships to Durban.

“The cruise industry is the fastest growing category in the leisure travel market, and with a projection of one million passengers by 2025, TNPA’s decision to build a dedicated cruise terminal in the port is well supported,” said Nkowane.

Cruise ship terminal Durban

Work on the new terminal will reportedly begin by 2020

The KwaZulu Cruise Terminal (KCT) consortium, in which MSC is a partner, holds a 25-year port concession from TNPA to finance, construct, operate, and maintain a new cruise terminal in the Port of Durban.

The Durban Cruise Terminal will cost an estimated R200 million to build. KCT is presently finalising the detailed design of the cruise terminal building and the anticipated commissioning of the project is 2020.

Nkowane said the Port of Durban would be working with partners to maintain its status as ‘Africa’s Leading Cruise Port’, as awarded at the 2018 World Travel Awards Africa and Indian Ocean segment, an accolade that it won again in 2019.

Leave a Reply