Despite a less than ship-shape economy in 2014, thousands of South Africans managed to cruise through the financial year, with the country’s leading passenger liner reporting an exceptionally buoyant season.
MSC Cruises South Africa, whose cruise liners have become a familiar sight in the Port Elizabeth harbour, has reported an almost 100% occupancy rate for the 2014-15 season.
MSC released its occupancy results yesterday as its flagship vessel currently operating in South African waters, the MSC Opera, spent the day in the Port Elizabeth harbour before leaving shortly after 5pm.
Ingrid Roding-Tudor, of MSC’s press office, said due to strong demand, the company had increased its 2015-16 season targets by 25%.
“MSC Cruises SA has reported a phenomenal 99.7% average occupancy for the 23 cruises which have already departed since the start of the 2014-15 season in October 2014.
“In spite of a weak rand and a budget-conscious market, the cruise sector continues to perform even in tough economic times,” she said.
Roding-Tudor said with just 500 cabins still available for sale in the remaining two months of the season, it was the last chance for passengers to experience MSC Opera in local waters, before the vessel returned to Europe.
MSC attributed its success in South Africa to the value the cruises offered passengers, along with its formula of allowing children to cruise free in their parents’ cabin – which attracted the family market.
Roding-Tudor said the company also planned to expand its offerings in the South African market.
“The recently launched 2015-16 local season will see the return of one of South Africa’s favourite ships, the MSC Sinfonia, but following a miracle of engineering she will return bigger and better than ever before.
“The ship is being cut in half and stretched by inserting a new 23.7m pre-built section of superstructure. This will incorporate additional lounges, shops and a water park on deck plus 200 extra cabins, which increases the ship’s capacity from 2 100 to 2 600 passengers.”
The Sinfonia is undergoing the extension and refurbishment in Italy.
– The Herald Reporter