MSC Cruises has just wrapped up its summer cruise season in South Africa, ending on a great note. Throughout the season, the MSC Splendida welcomed nearly 120,000 passengers on memorable sea vacations. Ross Volk, the managing director of MSC Cruises South Africa, mentions that the company is eagerly anticipating the return of the recently renovated MSC Musica to the South African waters for the next season.

The ship is a crowd favourite among the locals and is set to make its comeback in November 2024.

"The current trends are looking positive," Volk explains. “South Africans are increasingly seeing cruising as the best value proposition for holidaying because it is an all-inclusive price for a unique experience."

South Africa is one of MSC Cruises’ Top-10 markets by volume. In addition, he says, MSC Cruises is seeing a large increase in passengers coming from across Africa and even overseas to cruise from South Africa.

MSC Cruises runs four routes from South African ports. The Durban-to-Mozambique route is the most popular with local tourists, while the Cape Town-to-Walvis Bay route is particularly popular with overseas cruisers. The other two routes are Durban-to-Mauritius and Durban-to-Cape Town.

From 22 November 2024 to 30 March 2025, MSC Musica will be deployed to South African ports for the upcoming 2024/2025 season.

"Cruising is not just great value, it’s also increasingly being seen as a way to experience destinations in a new way, to get under the skin of the locals, so to speak," Volk says. "This emphasis on experience is particularly a mark of Generation X and Millennials, who are turning towards cruising in greater numbers."

Economic impact and future growth

The good summer season experienced over the 2023/2024 local cruise season, and the hope that further growth will be experienced in the 2024/2025 season, is good news not just for cruise companies but also for the South African economy as a whole.

Around 3.7% of the country’s gross domestic product in 2023 can be attributed to tourism, which employed 4.7% of the workforce. In all, the Department of Tourism says the sector contributes R287bn to the economy.

"Providing goods and services to the cruising market is one huge job creator, but the quest for deeper experiences that reflect local cultures also opens up vast new opportunities for individuals and communities," Volk concludes.

"The expected growth in cruising numbers has the potential to shift the dial on our stubborn unemployment figures by providing entrepreneurs with greater scope."

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