Starlight and MSC double cruise capacity in SA

Nov 26, 2005
Author: Starlight

Statement by Starlight Cruises 22 November 2005

Starlight Cruises this week announced the successful conclusion of discussions between themselves and MSC Cruises, aimed at placing a cruise vessel in South Africa to operate all year round.

In terms of the agreement, MSC Cruises - the worlds’ largest Italian owned cruise line – will with effect from October 2006 position the popular liner Monterey in South Africa, where it will operate traditional short and medium length cruises from ports in South Africa – principally Durban – to destinations in the Indian Ocean and in the Mozambique channel.

In addition to the full time positioning of the Monterey in South Africa, the popular MSC liner Rhapsody will return each December for her traditional summer season, thus placing two liners at the disposal of the ever increasing cruise community in South Africa.

This is the beginning of an aggressive campaign to entrench the two companies’ positions as the only credible cruise option in South African waters, where MSC – through long time South African cruise specialists Starlight Cruises - has been the virtual exclusive regular operator of cruises in the region for nearly two decades.

The placing of a full time vessel in South Africa – plus the addition of a second vessel in the peak - will effectively increase annual capacity from the 26,500 passengers to be carried in the summer of 2005/6, to 60,000 in the first full year of operation in 2006/7.

Other significant statistics related to this remarkable development are:

  • The total number of cruise departures will increase from 33 per annum to 107 per annum

  • Revenue to the Port of Durban in the form of Port Charges and taxes will increase from R6,800,000 per annum to R19,000,000 per annum

  • Food and beverage suppliers too are looking at a very substantial increase in ships victualing as will the hotels and other ground service providers

  • Local airlines will enjoy year round increases of similar magnitude in catering for ‘upland’ cruise guests who travel from their home cities to and from Durban

  • South African Travel Agents will be in line for a veritable bonanza of commissions on cruise sales, increasing from R5,8 million in 2005/6 to R16,8 million in 2006/7

  • “The market appears to be calling out for the more permanent presence of a passenger cruise liner in the region, and the South African economy suggests to us that our timing is exactly right. We believe this is the biggest single development in the local cruise industry in South Africa since our family first pioneered leisure cruising off this coast 26 years ago,” said Allan Foggitt, director of Starlight.

    “MSC and Starlight previously operated highly successful 12 month seasons in 1997 and 1998, before the dramatic decline in the value of the SA Rand negated the viability of that operation, and between then and now the South African season has been confined to the summer period between early December and April.

    “The exceptional success of our 2004/5 season in South Africa, and the fact that our 2005/6 season appears set to eclipse the records set at that time, has convinced us that we are making the right decision at the right moment”.

    “Brochures detailing the new cruise programs will be available for distribution early in December, giving an unprecedented lead time for bookings for the new extended season of 11 months.

    “From three ships in 2002, MSC Cruises currently has a fleet of seven vessels : MSC Sinfonia, MSC Opera, MSC Armonia, MSC Lirica, MSC Melody, MSC Rhapsody and MSC Monterey and in addition to South Africa offers itineraries in Mediterranean all year round, in Northern Europe, Transatlantic, the Caribbean, and South America. The MSC Cruises' fleet will increase to nine ships by 2007 with the arrival of MSC Musica (2006) and MSC Orchestra (2007). By the year 2010 the fleet will boast 11 fine liners with the delivery of MSC Fantasia in June 2008 and MSC Serenata in March 2009.”



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