MSC SINFONIA begins South African cruise season

Nov 17, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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MSC Sinfonia docked in Durban yesterday (Monday) after completing her maiden voyage from the port – a two-night cruise to nowhere. She sailed again later in the afternoon on the first of her four-night cruises to Portuguese Island and Barra Lodge.

The 58,600-gt cruise ship is one of ten MSC cruises ships, representing the most modern cruise fleet afloat. MSC Cruises operates in the waters of the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, East Coast South America and Southern Africa.

The new generation cruise ship introduces a much higher standard of cruising when compared with earlier ships stationed here for summer seasons, and the enormous interest particularly in the more expensive suites, such as those with balconies, signifies a growing sophistication among the local cruising population.

“A significant change in the booking pattern is evident at the top end of the market where huge support has been received for the 135 suites with private balconies. This is a new market drawn by the ship’s improved accommodation and top class facilities,” said Allan Foggitt, director of Starlight Cruising, the general sales agent for MSC Cruises in South Africa.

According to Foggitt unprecedented advance bookings confirmed the timing for launching MSC Sinfonia in South Africa. Most departures in November and December are already either sold out or heavily booked, he said. Among those fully booked is the 11-night New Year cruise to La Reunion and Mauritius. The cost of this particular cruise ranges from R15,180 in the lowest category to R24,200 per person.

Foggitt said the most reasonably priced cabins remained the most popular as they ensured a significant saving on accommodation while still allowing the passenger use of the same dining, entertainment and other facilities as those booked into suites. Prices in these categories range from R3,970 for a three-night cruise.

“MSC Sinfonia offers South Africans their first opportunity to experience a ‘new build’ world class product which only a select few who travel abroad have had the chance to do. It ushers us into a new era of world class cruising,” he said.

As with other MSC cruise ship operations in the past, Durban will be the home base throughout the season for the ship.

MSC Sinfonia has a full schedule of 39 cruises during her first summer season in South Africa and the Indian Ocean. Shorter cruises feature three 2 night “Cruises to nowhere” and 32 three, four and five night cruises to varying destinations in Mozambique.

Longer cruises feature the 11 night New Year’s cruise to Mauritius and Reunion and a bumper 14 night “Island Discovery” cruise with calls at Madagascar, Mauritius, Reunion and Mozambique. The 21 night northbound return trip to Livorno, Italy departs Durban on 1 April 2010.

Cruises operating from Durban are 99% South African holidaymakers but the numbers are reversed on the positioning voyages to and from Europe when about 80% of passengers are foreign nationals.

“The most popular cruises are the 3 night weekend departures to Portuguese Island which are affordable breaks and don’t require taking special leave. Peak season cruises over Christmas and New Year are also in great demand as a choice for an annual holiday,” said Foggitt.

Over 70,000 passengers are expected to cruise on board MSC Sinfonia this season.

“The overwhelming support received for the ship has ensured her return for an extended 2010/2011 season which will include Easter and the April school holidays. The programme has been finalised and bookings are already open with some exciting advance booking discounts on offer for those who book early,” said Foggitt.

Further enquiries can be made to your nearest travel agent or from MSC Cruisesor Starlight Cruises .



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