Cape Town could benefit from bumper cruise ship season after Red Sea crisis

Due to the Houthi rebels' targeting of Red Sea traffic, cruise ships heading back to the Mediterranean will have to dock at Cape Town to restock





Feb 12, 2024

Cape Town could benefit from bumper cruise ship season after Red Sea crisis

In a strategic response to safety concerns along the Suez Canal, cruise lines are redirecting their global voyages, bringing unexpected windfalls for Cape Town and cruise enthusiasts worldwide.

Following a successful summer season, Cape Town anticipates another surge in both cruise passengers and crew as global cruise lines opt to reroute journeys around the Cape of Good Hope.

Traditionally, numerous cruise ships make the southern hemisphere their summer base, with ports in Dubai, Africa, and Australasia serving as vital hubs before voyaging back to the Mediterranean for Europe's bustling summer cruise season.

The shortest route homeward to the Mediterranean involves traversing the Red Sea and Suez Canal, necessitating passage through the Bab Al Mandeb Strait near Yemen's coast. However, amid ongoing conflicts in the area, notably with Houthi rebels launching cruise missile attacks on vessels, cautious cruise companies are favoring the significantly longer journey around the southern tip of Africa.

Cunard's prestigious flagship, Queen Mary 2, currently engaged in a 'World Voyage,' recently disclosed plans to return to Cape Town in April, charting a course along Africa's west coast to Southampton, its home port.

While this rerouting spells increased fuel costs for Cunard, it presents an unparalleled opportunity for travelers. The company has introduced unprecedentedly low fares for the unplanned repositioning cruise, offering balcony cabins for the 15-night journey from Cape Town to Southampton at just R19,990 per person sharing.

Simultaneously, various brands under the Carnival Corporation umbrella, including Costa, AIDA, P&O Cruises, Seabourn, and Princess Cruises, have rerouted vessels via Cape Town. However, many are opting to sail without passengers, leaving berths vacant as a precautionary measure.

This cautious approach extends to MSC Cruises, which has canceled three repositioning 'Grand Voyage' sailings from South Africa and the United Arab Emirates to Europe in April. Instead of hosting passengers on extended voyages, MSC Splendida, MSC Opera, and MSC Virtuosa will return to Europe with thousands of unoccupied cabins.

Virgin Voyages recently announced a significant alteration to Resilient Lady's repositioning cruise from Sydney to the Mediterranean. Departing Australia on March 27, the ship will call at Mauritius and Durban before reaching Cape Town. Subsequent port calls include destinations in Namibia, Cape Verde, Spain, and Malta, before arriving in Greece.

In response to this strategic shift, Virgin Voyages revealed plans for a comprehensive review of similar repositioning voyages and linked sailings, underlining the evolving landscape of global cruise routes amidst safety considerations.

more articles by this author