In South Africa, cruising is the first travelling experience for many young people and has contributed to a 27% increase in the South African cruising industry in five years, according to Antoinette Turner, product manufacturer for cruising at Flight Centre Travel Group.
“We have loads of families, as most modern ships cater for children more than adults, with a variety of on-board activities to keep children busy,” she says. “And we also have many honeymooners. It’s more the luxury cruises – which generally involve smaller ships and longer itineraries that are more expensive – that appeal to the older traveller.”
Turner says cruising is proving to be the first choice of holiday for virgin travellers in South Africa as it offers an affordable and safe option for those leaving the country for the first time.
“We are finding that local cruises are very popular with people who have never cruised before. Cruising allows them to experience travelling in familiar surroundings before they embark on an international journey,” she says.
“Local cruises also depart from Durban and Cape Town, which means that they do not have to fly, but can drive to the point of departure. Local cruises are also great for families as two children who share with two paying adults often get to cruise for free, so it’s very cost-effective,” she adds.
Turner says the cruising industry grew from at least R340-million in 2010 to R431-million in 2015, a year-on-year increase of almost 5%. This was based only on sales booked through travel agents and did not include those who booked directly with cruise operators.