Cruise ship Madagascar arrives next month

Sep 2, 2005
Author: P&S

Spokesmen for the owners and operators of the cruise ship Madagascar confirmed today that the ship was expected in Durban in early October and would begin cruising operations on the 31st of that month.

Trevor Boynton, director of Indian Ocean Cruises was responding to questions about the ship and plans for its first cruise season in Southern African waters. He told Ports & Ships that the ship had recently completed a dry docking and full refit in Odessa, Ukraine and was now preparing to sail for Durban.

Madagascar will arrive in the port early in October and will be used for several weeks as a floating hotel while alongside the T-Jetty in Durban harbour. During this time the hotel and entertainment crew will acclimatize themselves to the ship and conditions on board and final fitting out will be completed.


our first picture of the cruise ship Madagascar, taken alongside the docks in Odessa harbour. Madagascar is due to arrive in Durban in early October 2005 and will begin cruise operations from the end of that month. Picture courtesy Trevor Boynton

Andrew Thompson, marketing director for Three Cities Hotels confirmed that his hotel group would manage the hotel and entertainment side of the vessel, while a Ukrainian crew would look after the technical manning of the ship.

He said the Madagascar would cruise out of Durban to destinations among the Mozambique and Indian Ocean islands during eight months of the year. Another three months would be spent cruising along the South African coast between Durban and Cape Town, with calls at East London, Port Elizabeth and Mossel Bay included. During July next year the ship will undergo maintenance, probably in Durban.

Thompson said his group did not anticipate problems with running a hotel at sea. Cruises would be adventure-oriented with an emphasis on ‘Club Med’ and ‘Disneyland’ experiences. Typical passengers are expected to come from younger South Africans up to age 40 or 45 and family groups will be encouraged with a host of suitable entertainment provided both on board and ashore.

The cruise itinerary has been published on Indian Ocean Cruises’ website at www.indianocean.co.za and will be reviewed once a number of cruises have been completed. The first cruise is however confirmed as a ‘Cruise to Nowhere’ from Durban on 31 October, 2005.

A full colour brochure is being prepared which will become available within the next week, said Thompson. Marketing is to be undertaken between the Three Cities Group own personnel, three national tour operator partners who have already been identified, and with travel agents.

The 3008-gt Madagascar was built in 1960 and current ownership is listed as being Shatiek SHPT SA registered in St Vincent & The Grenadines. The ship management company is shown as Omiks of Odessa in the Ukraine.

Madagascar was best known as the Stella Maris II of Sun Lines and Royal Olympic Cruises, becoming Viking Bordeaux in 2000 after which the vessel faded from the cruising public’s eye. The ship’s original name was Bremerhaven but it is as Sun Line’s flagship the Stella Maris II that she is most fondly remembered, with regular passengers saying they enjoyed her coziness and yacht-like ‘feeling’ and appearance as well as the ability to go into places otherwise denied to much larger cruise ships. The ship made numerous crossings of the Atlantic while sailing with Sun Lines doing transfers between the Mediterranean and the Caribbean.

On that basis Madagascar should fit in quite well with the planned destinations along the Mozambique and Madagascar coastlines and channel islands - how passengers will handle some of the rougher seas to be experienced at times in the Mozambique Channel and on the crossing south of Madagascar, let alone along South Africa’s east coast remains to be seen although she apparently has a reputation for riding heavy seas quite well.

With a length of only 88m long and a beam of 14m and a draught of 4.4m there is no way she can be thought of as large and there may be some interesting cruise stories ahead.


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