Bookings for cruises to and from South Africa have seen a strong uptick in recent weeks after the country dropped all remaining COVID-19 travel restrictions for incoming tourists.
More than 200,000 cruise passengers are now expected to disembark in Cape Town during the coming 2022/23 cruise season, according to reports by The Citizen.
The uptick in cruise tourists to South Africa mirrors a wider bounce back in cruising for the African continent as a whole (the idle status of the new Mombasa Cruise Terminal not withstanding).
Other African countries like Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Mauritius and the Seychelles are seeing growth in scheduled cruise calls from major cruise lines in Europe and the United States.
Overcrowding in traditional markets and growing demand for more adventurous itineraries will help Africa attract more cruise lines to its ports, according to a report by Skift.
“African cities are eyeing a bigger slice of the global cruise market, with upgraded terminal buildings attracting an ever-growing number of international cruise ships to ports as varied as Mombasa and Cape Town,” it said.
Major cruise destinations on the continent are also investing in upgraded cruise infrastructure. AD Ports Group, a major Abu Dhabi-based logistics facilitator has agreed to help Egypt develop some of its ports for cruise liners.
AD Ports Group inked two agreements with the Red Sea Ports Authority to develop and operate a terminal in Port Safaga, on the Red Sea.
The group will develop and operate cruise terminals in the Safaga, Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada ports.
When it comes to South Africa, the recent bounce in demand is also attributable to the country’s removal of all remaining COVID-19 travel restrictions for incoming tourists. Visitors to the country can now fly in without need for a PCR, making it easier for fly-cruise passengers to join ships in Cape Town.
According to Business Insider SA, passengers aboard these cruise liners will inject much-needed cash into the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, specifically, the cruise terminal’s Makers Landing. Cape Town is South Africa’s primary cruise port.
“While much of the 2021/2022 cruise season was disrupted, Cape Town can look forward to a full schedule when ships return in October. Cruise Cape Town, a project within Wesgro, anticipates 104 ship visits, made up of 26 cruise ships, to dock in the Mother City during the 2022/2023 season,” it reported.
It comes after the South African cruise sector was battered by the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated travel restrictions, especially the renewed isolation imposed on the country after the Omicron variant was reported by South African doctors.
Those developments severely curtailed South Africa’s ambitions of growing its cruise market to more than 1 million passengers by 2025.