South Africa’s six cruise ports will be visited by 20 cruise ships during the coming 2021/22 cruise season, according to the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA).
The resurgence in cruise traffic comes after the South African government moved the country to an adjusted COVID-19 Alert Level 1, which meant cruises were allowed to resume.
“We are thrilled to be able to welcome cruise passengers and crew back to our shores,” said Captain Sabelo Mdlalose, acting chief harbour master at TNPA.
He added that cruise tourists to the country would need to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines, including social distancing and mask-wearing, both onboard and while exploring the various cities.
Ayanda Mantshongo, TNPA executive manager of corporate affairs and external relations, added that the 20 cruise ships scheduled to call in South Africa and cruise from it would be visiting Cape Town, Mossel Bay, Port Elizabeth-Gqeberha, Durban and Richards Bay.
MSC Cruises will homeport its ship MSC Orchestra in Durban between December and April, while several cruise lines will homeport in Cape Town, sailing roundtrip cruises along the SA coast, as well as one-off grand voyages further afield.
Even though international embarkation and disembarkation is allowed in Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth-Gqeberha, Cape Town is the primary turnaround port.
The Mother City is scheduled to receive vessels from Walvis Bay and Luderitz along the Namibian coast and Gough Island and Tristan Da Cunha in the South Atlantic.
Many of these cruise ships are operating with luxury cruise lines, such as Crystal Cruises, Silversea, and Azamara, but MSC Cruises, AIDA Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line also offer more affordable options.
MSC Cruises is homeporting in Durban, but will also offer cruises from Cape Town during the 2021/22 cruise season.
Norwegian Cruise Line will cruise from Cape Town on two 12-night roundtrip itineraries in January with Norwegian Jade, before departing on January 26th on an 18-night cruise to Dubai.
Azamara Pursuit will sail five 12-night roundtrip cruises from Cape Town during January and February, before departing on March 4th on a 21-night cruise to Lisbon. They’ll be joined by Hapag Lloyd’s Europa 2, Regent Seven Seas’ ship Mariner, and Oceania’s ship Insignia.
Those ships will sail international itineraries to Singapore, Gran Canaria and New York.
All of these itineraries hang in the balance, however, as a growing number of countries impose travel bans on South Africa amid concerns over the recently discovered new variant that first emerged in Gauteng earlier this week.
The variant has been dubbed B.1.1.529 by the World Health Organization and is very different to the others that have emerged so far. Scientists have said it is the most heavily mutated version yet, which means vaccines, which were designed using the original strain from Wuhan, may not be as effective.
The UK, Singapore, Israel and Japan have imposed travel bans on those coming from South Africa, while EU is proposing to ban flights from Southern Africa across the whole bloc.