The cruise season has drawn to a magnificent close in both the Eastern and Western Cape with the state-of-the-art VIKING SUN calling at the Ports of East London, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town.
This was the vessel’s maiden voyage to the country and also the very first time that her Switzerland-based owner Viking Ocean Cruises has ever included South Africa on its global itinerary.
Flying the flag of Norway, VIKING SUN first arrived in Durban on Friday, 12 April. In East London on Monday, 15 April she was welcomed by the port’s management team and Harbour Master, Kgadi Matlala, who presented a plaque to the ship’s master, Captain Olav Soevdsnes.
She then called at Port Elizabeth on 16 April and finally Cape Town on 18 April, where a plaque exchange ceremony and cultural show took place onboard the vessel. Among those welcoming the vessel on its inaugural call to Cape Town were Harbour Master Captain Alex Miya and Michael Thomas of the V&A Waterfront, which operates the port’s passenger terminal.
Cape Town had two passenger liners in port as its season ended, with Silversea Cruises’ SILVER WHISPER also berthed alongside VIKING SUN.
Cape Town Port Manager, Mpumi Dweba-Kwetana, said: “As the Port of Cape Town we are proud to be attracting growing numbers of tourists to our beautiful city. Through the V&A Waterfront our port is developing a world-class passenger terminal that will continue to gain the attention of leading cruise line companies like Viking Ocean Cruises. We’re also honoured to be nominated once again in the World Travel Awards 2019 category of Africa’s Leading Cruise Port, alongside Durban, Port Elizabeth, Dar es Salaam, Mombasa and Zanzibar.”
VIKING SUN will next venture into the South Atlantic to explore Lüderitz and Walvis Bay, as well as several other ports along the West African coast.
Built in 2017, VIKING SUN has a length of 227 metres and a beam of 28.8 meters, with a guest capacity of 930.
Viking Ocean Cruises operates global ocean cruises with a fleet of six ocean ships and river cruises with a fleet of almost 60 Viking Longships.
The company announced back in September 2018 that it would be featuring South Africa heavily on its 128-day World Cruise from Miami to London, which includes 44 port calls in 21 countries on five continents.
As with all Viking itineraries, guests receive a complimentary shore excursion in each of the ports and free unlimited Wi-Fi.
In global travel magazine Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards – which is the publication’s annual list of all the best airlines, hotels, and cruises in the travel industry – Viking Cruises was named the number one ocean cruise line for ships carrying up to 2000 guests and was also awarded the World’s Best River Cruise line title.
Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) GM: Corporate Affairs and External Relations, Moshe Motlohi, said: “During 2018/19 we once again enjoyed year-on-year growth with more global operators using our ports, resulting in economic spinoffs for tour operators, hotels, game reserves, lodges and tourist attractions in our port cities,” he said.
“We’ve seen an increase in South Africans taking regular cruises, as well as increased numbers of international operators visiting South Africa. Confirmed cruises for the next few years are extremely promising and definitely something for us all to look forward to.”
Highlights of the 2018-19 season included the MSC MUSICA which replaced the nine-year regular and firm local favourite, MSC SINFONIA this season. MUSICA will in turn be replaced by the similarly sized MSC ORCHESTRA next season beginning in November 2019.
There were also cruises by THE WORLD, the largest private residential ship on the planet, which called at the Ports of Cape Town and Durban in December and January, as well as the final voyage of SAGA PEARL II ahead of her retirement with calls to Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London, Richards Bay and Durban. Cunard Lines also returned to South Africa with its impressive QUEEN ELIZABETH AND QUEEN VICTORIA liners calling in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.
The Port of Cape Town welcomed 22 passenger liners this season. Durban and Port Elizabeth welcomed 15, Richards Bay and East London had seven each, while Mossel Bay had four.
For the 2019/2020 season, 30 vessels are expected to make 49 stops in Cape Town, while for the 2020/21 season 32 vessels with 67 stops are confirmed.