Cape Town’s 2021/22 cruise season officially opened Tuesday with the arrival of the German luxury liner Europa, and cruise tourism officials said the season will remain open despite a slew of expected cancellations.
Europa was meant to cruise roundtrip from Cape Town, but has instead opted to head directly for Mauritius, while Norwegian Cruise Line has cancelled its December itineraries in South Africa.
Despite this, cruise officials in South Africa say the Cape Town cruise season will remain open to all cruise ships that still wish to call in the city and cruise from it on popular South African itineraries.
Lorraine Mabindisa, acting corproate affairs manager of TNPA, said Cape Town was scheduled to receive vessels from Walvis Bay and Luderitz along the Namibian coast, Gough Island and Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic.
“The Cape Town Cruise Terminal is planned to handle 29 ships, booked to arrive from November 30 to May 2022,” said Mabindisa.
Tshepo Ramonyaluoe, Cape Town’s acting port manager at TNPA, added: “Cruise tourism has a significant economic impact, contributing substantially to local, regional and national economies.”
“Therefore, the resuming of cruise tourism is a much-needed economic boost,” he said. “The local economy’s main revenues from the cruise industry includes and is not limited to crew and passenger ashore spending, shore excursions and tours as well as vessel supplies and services.”
The summer season is vital for Cape Town, which lost an estimated 75,000 tourism jobs in the pandemic.
Cape Town had expected to make a strong comeback after the global cruise shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in March, 2020. Instead, the emergence of the Omicron variant has prompted countries around the world to ban travellers from South Africa.
The move has cut South Africa off from its largest fly-cruise source markets, forcing cruise lines to redeploy ships away from the country.
“This has been a hammer blow to our major job-creating sector in the province precisely when we needed a recovery, to claw back jobs lost over the last 19 months,” said Alan Winde, Premier of the Western Cape province.
Cruise liners scheduled to call in Cape Town this season include MSC Cruises, Ponant, Azamara, Silversea Cruises, Regent, Crystal Cruises and Hapag-Lloyd.
Hapag-Lloyd has already had to cancel all shore excursions in Cape Town for its passengers, while Norwegian Cruise Line has cancelled its December cruises from the city. MSC Cruises has confirmed it will homeport in Durban and Cape Town as planned, while Azamara has said it is monitoring the situation.
Ramonyaluoe added that statistics from the Port of Cape Town have shown solid growth in cruise shipping volumes prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, giving the city a positive long-term outlook.
“TNPA continues to explore ways to accommodate the steady growing demand and be of support to the cruise industry,” he said.
“As one of the most beautiful ports in the world, the Port of Cape Town is open and ready to safely welcome cruise passengers to Cape Town and the Western Cape,” he added.