Durban celebrates opening of the 2023/24 cruise season with first ship arrival
Durban Tourism Authority has marked the start of the 2023/24 cruise season in Kwa-Zulu Natal with the arrival of Nicko Cruises’ ship Vasgo de Gamma, the first of an anticipated 70 cruise ship calls for the season.
The South African cruise season runs from November to March annually, and although Cape Town is the primary cruise port in the country for ship calls, and turnarounds (where itineraries begin in the city), Durban remains the primary cruise port for the domestic market. MSC Cruises will once more be homeporting in the city, as it has done since the 1990s, but this time it will be sending MSC Splendida to sail a series of roundtrip voyages in the Indian Ocean.
MSC Splendida is the largest cruise ship ever to homeport in South Africa, and will play a leading part in helping the KZN cruise sector recover from the pandemic of 2020, the looting of 2021 and the floods of 2022. In an interview with ENCA, Deputy Chair of the Economic Development and Planning Committee, Councillor Philisiwe Ndlovu said the arrival of Vasco da Gama and her more than 500 passengers marked the beginning of a key cruise season for the city.
“It’s very exciting. I mean, what a way to launch the 2023-2024 Cruise season with the Vasco de Gama that’s just landed here,” she said. “And I think what is even more important for us is the 500 people that have disembarked off the cruise will be visiting Durban; they’ll be spending in dollars in Durban. We all know what that means to our economy.”
“Another important thing to note is that we are now post-COVID,” she added. “It was a time when these types of activities suffered.” Ndlovu said this cruise season would mark Durban’s recovery, with passenger numbers and cruise ship calls almost back to where they were prior to the pandemic.
“We’re 90% back to where we were before COVID,” she said. “But for us as a city, it’s not only been the issue of COVID. We’ve had floods, we’ve had looting, but we’re now back.” While MSC Splendida will sail 29 cruises from Durban during the 2023/24 cruise season, mostly 2-, 3-, 4- and 5-night cruises to Pomene Bay and Portuguese Island in Mozambique, a further 26 cruise ships will call in the city on a range of international cruises.
Cruise lines including Cunard, Silversea, Seabourn, Oceania, Ambassador Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Azamara, AIDA Cruises, Regent Seven Seas and more all have cruise ships calling in Durban during the current season.
Durban Tourism Authority anticipate that more cruise calls will be added as the season progresses.