MSC Sinfonia Kicks Off South African Cruise Season
The South African 2016/17 cruise season began on November 1, 2016, with the arrival of the first international cruise liner, MSC Sinfonia, at the Port of Durban.
Carrying around 2,600 European and South African passengers, the vessel owned by Geneva-based MSC Cruises arrived at the South African port from Italy’s Venice.
“MSC Cruises is one of 14 cruise line operators serving South Africa this season, while MSC Sinfonia is among at least 20 international cruise liners that will call at six of South Africa’s eight commercial ports during this season,” Moshe Motlohi, Transnet National Ports Authority’s (TNPA) Port Manager, said.
The Port of Durban is expected to welcome seven of these cruise vessels. According to Motlohi, the Durban cruise market had grown from 81,800 passengers ten years ago to nearly 145,000 passengers last season.
“TNPA’s position in terms of its cruise strategy is to offer new and modern cruise terminals that will provide an ideal gateway to a unique South African experience,” Motlohi further said, adding that investments have been made to boost the sector, including development of a new passenger terminal in the Port of Durban and upgrades at the Port of Cape Town’s existing passenger terminal.
MSC Cruises Marketing Director, Alan Foggitt, said the cruise company would be replacing MSC Sinfonia in the 2018/19 season with the larger MSC Musica.
Boasting 980 cabins and newly refurbished facilities, the slightly longer MSC Sinfonia has been accommodated at the Point and Leisure Precinct’s longer M-berth since last season after the recent EUR multi-million revamp which increased its length by 24 meters.
Vessels other than MSC Sinfonia continue to use the port’s N-Shed, which was upgraded ahead of the 2015/16 cruise season in a joint exercise between TNPA and MSC Cruises.
Furthermore, the Port of Durban is set to announce the preferred bidder for development of a new passenger terminal in the port by the end of April 2017.