Ports & Ships Cruise News

Feb 20, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

  • South African among passengers evacuated from grounded Antarctic cruise ship

  • Cruising now a hot holiday choice for South Africans

  • Sun Princess brings winter boost to four South African ports

  • Queen of Scandinavia becomes a floating hotel


    South African among passengers evacuated from grounded Antarctic cruise ship

    Marguerite Bay – Between 60 and 70 passengers and crew were safely evacuated from the adventure cruise ship OCEAN NOVA (2,183-gt, built 1992) this week (17 February) after the vessel went aground about two kilometres from the San Martin research station at Marguerite Bay on the western side of the Antarctic peninsula.

    Ocean Nova is operated by Quark Expedition, which specialises in cruising in Arctic and Antarctic waters.

    There were no reported injuries to the 64 passengers or 41 crew on the ship. Among the passengers is a South African. Nationalities of the 68 evacuees have been given as 19 Americans, 18 Britons, 7 Australians, 6 Canadians, 6 Germans, 5 Irish, 3 Dutch, 3 New Zealanders, 1 South African.

    Another Quark Expeditions ship, the CLIPPER ADVENTURER immediately headed towards the Ocean Nova and prepared to take off the passengers. Other vessels in the area to respond included the Argentine hydrographic ship CASTILLO and a Spanish naval research vessel, the HESPEDRIDES. The Clipper Adventurer was later reported to be heading for Ushuaia to disembark the rescued passengers.

    Indications are that there has been no leakage of oil or fuels from the ship. Quark Expeditions yesterday announced that a video inspection of the by then refloated ship confirmed no leakages or serious damage and it was hoped to operate the advertised 20-day voyage of Ocean Nova to the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands on schedule.

    “We are grateful that no environmental damage occurred and that all travellers who were aboard Ocean Nova are safe,” said Patrick Shaw, president of Quark Expeditions.

    Cruising now a hot holiday choice for South Africans

    Sun Princess at Lyttleton, New Zealand. Picture Alan Calvert

    The multi-billion dollar cruise liner industry is one of the fastest growing tourism sectors in the world, and South African’s are helping to fuel this trend by increasingly choosing cruising as their preferred holiday option, says a media release from Discover The World Marketing, which represents a division of Princess Cruises in South Africa.

    In the past eight years, it is estimated that worldwide, the number of cruise liner passengers grew from about 4 million to about 13,6 million, according to a study completed last year by the City of Cape Town.

    While there are no official statistics showing exactly how many South Africans are choosing cruising holidays, Discover The World Marketing director Sabrina Allcock says there has been a discernable upward trend in cruise bookings over the past six years.

    Princess Cruises is a division of the largest cruise company in the world.

    “Every year we’ve seen increasing queries and made an increasing number of bookings for cruises,” she says. “Of course, 2009 will be telling. I believe the cruising industry will be less impacted by the current global financial and economic downturn than the rest of the travel industry.”

    Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) – representing the multi-billion dollar cruising industry in the US – said in a statement issued in January this year that, “Even in the best of times, cruises represent outstanding value; in fact, consumer and travel agent surveys consistently cite value for money spent as the number one reason to take a cruise. Today, when budgets are tight, value is even more important. Factor in the money-saving offers currently available from the member lines of CLIA and there is only one conclusion to be made: there has never been a better time to take a cruise vacation.”

    Allcock concurs. “I believe that this year we will see a greater “value for money” approach to cruising than in previous years - so more affordable cabins and more destinations on bigger ships. Certainly, I expect to see more South Africans sailing the seas,” she says.

    Shipping and cruise industry publisher and analyst Terry Hutson agrees that cruising has become an increasingly popular holiday among South Africans. “Every year more and more take advantage of cruise ships visiting the South African coast. Some ships are now regular sights in the ports of Durban, Cape Town Port Elizabeth, Richards Bay or East London, with even Mossel Bay getting the occasional call, while neighbouring Walvis Bay is now also a favourite destination,” he says.

    Hutson says apart from cruising between local ports or to Mauritius, South Africans can also make use of numerous fly/cruise options that enable one to join cruise ships in the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, Alaskan waters, the Baltic, South East Asia or any of the other exotic and exciting destinations. “Many of these work out at much less cost than one might expect,” he says.

    Much credit for the rise in popularity in cruising should go to the organisers of the popular 3, 4 and 7-night cruises that have operated out of Durban every summer since the mid 1990s and which have introduced tens of thousands of South Africans to cruising, says Hutson.

    Allcock says the South African passengers are attracted to the variety of options that cruising offers them. “Some people like the onboard party atmosphere while others enjoy relaxing and reading, unwinding from their hectic lives back home. Other people simply like the fact that you unpack once and then, well really the destinations come to you,” she says. Princess cruises include all food and on-board entertainment for free. An added attraction on Princess cruises is its “scholarship@sea” programme which offers passengers lessons by experts in a variety of activities... from wine tasting, cooking and painting to learning about maritime subjects like navigation at sea and astrology at sea.

    Hutson says he’s aware that Durban tourism authorities are keen to grow the cruise liner business, as is Cape Town. Late last year, the City of Cape Town approved the establishment of a work group to explore the business potential cruising offered the City. They are spurred, says Hutson, by the experience of Port Everglades in Florida, USA. On a single day in December 2007 more than 46,000 passengers either sailed into or out from Port Everglades, setting a new record for any port anywhere.

    Former Cape Town mayoral committee member for Economic, Social Development and Tourism, Simon Grindrod, says Cape Town has a long history of welcoming passenger liners to its shores. In a statement issued in October 2008, he noted that many Capetonians remember the romantic era of the Union Castle mail ships and the City Line passenger vessels between South Africa and Britain. “Travelling by sea remains popular, except that now it is cruise liners that ply the seas.”

    The Mother City has initiated an in-depth study into the market potential of the cruise liner industry for the southern African region and Cape Town in particular “because of the factors already mentioned and the fact that southern Africa is one of the few remaining regions left in the world with untapped potential to develop its cruise liner industry.”

    Meantime, those parts of the world already known to be fantastic cruising destinations – like Alaska and Australia, to name just two - are already on the cruising programme for Princess Cruises. The first to depart from South Africa will be the fly/cruise package from Cape Town to Fremantle, Australia leaving on 2 May this year (see below).

    Allcock says that for the convenience of South African customers, package deals have been put together. “So we are offering an affordable 28 day cruise - with a one-way flight to Fremantle (Australia), where our passengers will join the ship and enjoy idyllic days exploring the 14 decks of irresistible pleasure and visiting exotic locations in Kuala Lumpur and Penang (Malaysia), Phuket (Thailand), Goa (India), the Maldives, the Seychelles and Nose Be (Madagascar) before docking in Cape Town.”

    For further information on Princess Cruises, please contact Discover the World Marketing at
    011-289 8111 / www.princess.com / or email jnb@dtwm.co.za

    Sun Princess brings winter boost to four South African ports

    The Sun Princess India South Africa Odyssey

    South African tourism is set to enjoy a significant boost when one of the world’s largest cruise line ships visits four local ports this year.

    Princess Cruises’ Sun Princess – with a passenger capacity of almost 2,000 – will be docking at Richards Bay, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town between May and June this year on voyages from and back to Fremantle (Australia).

    Princess Cruises, owned by Carnival Corporation, is represented in South Africa by Discover the World Marketing (DTWM).

    DTWM director Allcock says each of the harbor cities can expect to enjoy a revenue boost from visitors disembarking to enjoy the local sights and shopping. The 2007 Cruise Line International Association Economic Impact Study (released in October 2008) shows that on a typical cruise ship call, a 2,500 passenger ship generated an average of R358,000 in passenger and crew onshore spending per call in the homeport city.

    She says that for the convenience of South African customers, package deals have been put together. “So we are offering an affordable 28 day cruise - departing on 2 May - with a one-way flight to Fremantle (Australia), where our passengers will join the ship and enjoy idyllic days exploring the 14 decks of irresistible pleasure and fun expeditions to exotic locations in Kuala Lumpur and Penang (Malaysia), Phuket (Thailand), Goa (India), the Maldives, the Seychelles, Nose Be (Madagascar) and Richards Bay before docking in Cape Town.”

    Allcock says the Sun Princess is one of the cruise line’s largest ships. “We are so delighted to have one of our ships visiting South Africa this year… and it’s a bonus that people all around the country will have a chance to see her.”

    The cruise programme for the Sun Princess’ visit to South Africa is:

    Richards Bay arrive Thursday 28 May 2009 at 10h00; depart 18h00
    At sea Friday 29 May 2009
    Cape Town arrive Saturday 30 May 2009 at 15h00
    Cape Town depart Sunday 31 May 2009 at 11h59
    At sea Monday 1 June 2009
    Port Elizabeth arrive Tuesday 2 June 2009 at 08h00; depart 20h00
    At sea Wednesday 3 June 2009
    Durban arrive Thursday 4 June 2009 at 07h00; depart 20h00

    From Durban the Sun Princess sails to Fremantle via Reunion and Mauritius. South African passengers will be able to embark the Sun Princess in Cape Town.

    As with all Princess Cruises, all meals and entertainment on board are included in the price.

    “It is an international trend that cruises are booked between six and eight months in advance. So now’s the time for everyone thinking about going on a cruise this year to book soon,” she says.

    “Another one of our ships will be visiting our side of the world again in October this year when the Tahitian Princess stops off at Walvis Bay in Namibia en route to Singapore,” says Allcock.

    For further information about this cruise or Princess Cruises, please contact Discover the World Marketing at
    011-289 8111
    or email jnb@dtwm.co.za

    Princess Cruises - Quick Facts

    One of the best-known names in cruising, Princess Cruises first set sail in 1965 with a single ship cruising to Mexico. Today, the line has grown to become part of the largest cruise ship group in the world, renowned for innovative ships, an array of onboard options, and an environment of exceptional customer service. Princess Cruises was catapulted to stardom in 1977 when one of its ships, Pacific Princess, was cast in a starring role on the “Love Boat” television show.

    Now a recognized leader in worldwide cruising, Princess offers approximately 1.3 million passengers each year the opportunity to escape to the top destinations around the globe, aboard a fleet of 17 modern vessels.

    Sun Princess – Quick Facts

    SUN PRINCESS (77,441-gt) was built at a cost of over $ 300 million at the Italian Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone and had her inaugural cruise in December 1995. The ship is registered in Bermuda and boasts 975 staterooms, of which 603 face outside. She has 6 suites with private balconies, 32 mini-suites with private balconies, 371 outside cabins with private balconies, 193 standard outside cabins and 372 inside cabins. The ship also has 19 cabins with wheelchair accessibility – 7 outside and 12 inside.

    The almost 2,000 passengers are cared for by a crew totalling 900, consisting of British and Italian deck, engineering and medical officers, International hotel officers, American/British reception and cruise staff, International dining and bar staff, and Filipino accommodation staff.

    At sea the ship does 21 knots and is driven by diesel-electric engines. The ship has 10 lifeboats, 2 crew tenders, 4 passenger tenders and two rescue boats.

    For recreation Sun Princess has four swimming pools and five whirlpool Spas. Outside deck space totals 93,000 square feet. There are two main dining rooms, each with its own galley, a 24-hour café also with its own galley, a Pizzeria, Sterling Steakhouse, Wine and caviar bar, patisserie for coffee drinks and pastries, Hamburger and hot dog grill, Ice cream sundae bar, and 24-hour service.

    Public rooms include two main show lounges, both theatre and cabaret style, seven lounges/bars for refreshments, entertainment and dancing, a casino, four duty-free shops, health centre and spa, sports deck, photo shop, children and teen centres, disco, computerised golf centre, library and for those who leave it at the office, a business centre.

    Queen of Scandinavia becomes a floating hotel

    A new lease of life for an aging queen is what faces the QUEEN OF SCANDINAVIA (34,093-gt, built 1981) which is to become a floating hotel for about 700 workers updating a Swedish nuclear power plant, reports British shipping journal Fairplay.

    The ship’s Danish owner DFDS confirmed this yesterday, saying that the ship, which was put up for sale recently had arrived in Oskarshamn in Sweden where she would remain until at least April of May.

    The 1,756-passenger Queen of Scandinavia, until recently the flagship of the Danish ferry company was withdrawn from her Bergen/Newcastle ferry service last year. Her owners are hoping to sell her for $ 43 million.

    Built originally as the motor ship SKANDIA and later renamed FINLANDIA, she was the first modern, large cruise/ferry built for Silja Line and together with several of her sister ferries helped change the style of ferries then in service into something approaching a cruise ship type service. In 1990 she was sold by her Finnish owners to Denmark’s DFDS and given her current name.

    With the closure of the UK-Norway cruise/ferry service in 2008 DFDS placed the ship on the market while mooring her at Korsoer, until the latest development which will see her transferring to Oskarshamn in Sweden to serve as the floating hotel.

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