First impressions are everything, and its why the redevelopment of the V&A Waterfront cruise terminal is so important for cruise tourism in South Africa, especially given the growing size of cruise ships in the global fleet.
Cruise tourism brings in around R100-million for the local tourism industry in Cape Town alone, while 50 cruise ships, carrying more than 67,000 passengers and more than 14,000 crew arrived in Cape Town via the V&A Waterfront’s E-Berth Cruise Terminal during the 2016/2017 South African cruise season.
This doesn’t include the larger cruise ships sailing from South Africa, such as Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth, which are forced to use the Cape Town Convention Centre to process passengers as the cruise terminal has previously lacked the capacity.
“The cruise ship industry is an important part of Cape Town’s economy and of our city’s proud maritime heritage,” says David Green, CEO of V&A Waterfront, speaking to Cruise & Ferry magazine.
It is essential for the long-term feasibility of the South African cruise sector that visitors to the country have a safe and comfortable experience through the country’s cruise terminals. We discussed this previously with regards to the new Durban Cruise Terminal under development, and now Cape Town will finally get a similar upgrade.
The upgraded terminal building will have a newer, more modern look and feel.
“As beautiful as Cape Town is, if a passenger’s arrival is an unpleasant experience, it can affect their entire perception of the city,” says Green. “We know that the cruise line industry offers enormous potential for tourism growth, so we are determined to extend the world-class experience the V&A Waterfront is known for to the terminal.”
The V&A cruise terminal began life as an industrial facility, where fruits exports were stored prior to being ‘chilled’ and loaded aboard commercial ships for export. The first phase of the redevelopment saw the building stripped bare and re-built to receive passengers and to house immigration, customs and other state bodies.
In November 2016, a reception and waiting areas for passengers and crew were added, as well as an area where visitors meeting passengers could wait. Baggage handling services and immigration and customs facilities form part of the new infrastructure and a result the terminal feels better-managed and more efficient for cruise tourists.
The second phase of upgrades are perhaps the most important for the long-term viability of cruising in South Africa and will see the development of the building for multi-use in order to attract year-round activity. While the cruise ship industry is seasonal between October and May, ample parking and proximity to the V&A Waterfront will help attract local visitors and by adding retail areas within the terminal the cruise tourism sector will better-benefit the local economy.
This US $2.8 million second phase of the development is focused on the upper level of the building and includes the provision of staircases and lifts. Importantly, the upper two levels will contain a mix of space for events, restaurants and various related tenants.
Travel away from the terminal is easy for passengers once they arrive, with metered taxis, My CiTi buses and the City Sightseeing buses placed within walking distance. Passengers can also visit the information kiosk in the terminal building, or take a short five-minute walk to the V&A Waterfront Information Centre where they can access all transport and other sightseeing information.
Work on the second phase of the cruise terminal is scheduled for completion in early 2018.
“With a great deal of care and attention, we are investing to help create experiences that cruise visitors to the city of Cape Town will want to come back to,” says Green.