SA Cruise News

Cape Town reports unprecedented doubling of cruise calls for 2022/23 cruise season

Cape Town has seen its busiest cruise season on record with 75 cruise ship calls and 41 turnaround visits during the 2022/23 season, bringing more than 145,000 cruise passengers and 42,000 crew to South Africa’s shores.

These numbers represent a more than doubling of the numbers for the 2019/20 cruise season, during which just 39 cruise ships called in Cape Town, with around 42,000 passengers onboard.

The current cruise season is being compared to 2019/2020 as that was the last full cruise season operated by Cape Town. The 2020/21 cruise season was cancelled globally due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while the 2021/22 season was curtailed by the emergence of the Omicron variant.

More than 145,000 passengers visited Cape Town during 2022/23 cruise season.

The cruise tourism season began in October last year and came to an end this month. Among the 75 cruise ship calls and 41 turnarounds, there were also five maiden cruise calls in Cape Town, a reflection of the city’s growing appeal as a cruise destination.

According to Wesgro, an agency dedicated to developing itinerary offerings to entice international cruise partners, the Cape Town Cruise Terminal benefitted from growing demand from high-spend source markets including the US, Germany and the UK.

City of Cape Town economic growth Mayco member James Vos said the season figures were proof that Cape Town was becoming a major player in the cruise travel market and showed the value of the Cruise Cape Town initiative of which the municipality was a proud partner.

Norwegian Cruise Line home-ported in Cape Town for the first time this season.

Vos said: “Every passenger, crew member and ship that hits our shores is a boon to our local economy and helps the City to fulfil its mission of creating a tourism-related job in every household in the metro.”

Wrenelle Stander, the Wesgro CEO and spokesperson for Cruise Cape Town, said the success of the most recent Cape Town cruise season reveals the untapped potential of the lucrative cruise tourism sector.

“The Cruise Cape Town initiative is conducting a comprehensive economic impact study, expected to be finalised in the coming months,” Stander said. “We are confident the results will demonstrate the significant economic impact and job creation potential for the sector.”

It’s already known that the cruise sector brings in around R100 million annually for the Cape Town economy, but the growing number of turnarounds and cruise ships homeporting in the city represents even greater domestic spending by cruise lines and their passengers.

Norwegian Cruise Line sailed a South African season out of Cape Town for the first time this year, and plans to return for the 2023/24 cruise season, while MSC Cruises, AIDA Cruises, Azamara and Silversea already sail an annual Cape Town season.

Cape port also saw three ships conduct a turnaround visit on the same day for the first time, adding to its many firsts celebrated by the local industry.

Finance and Economic Opportunities MEC Mireille Wenger said cruise tourism contributes significantly to the province’s economy, with cruise ships creating a knock-on effect through passenger spend across the whole value chain.

“Moving forward, I look forward to working with all stakeholders to attract even more cruise ships to the province so we can help this sector contribute even more to our economy and create many more jobs for our residents,” Wenger said.

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