Queen Mary 2, the flagship of the Cunard fleet and the world’s greatest ocean liner and one of the largest passenger ships in the world, did a turnaround in Cape Town last week, bringing an estimated R2.2-million into the local economy.
Janine Myburgh, president of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry told Fin24 that cruise tourism has become increasingly important to the economy of Cape Town, South Africa’s primary cruise port for port calls and ‘turnarounds’.
“Queen Mary 2 has been here before and this return visit is a strong indication that Cape Town retrains its appeal at the top end of the international tourism market and that is very positive for now and the future,” she said.
Myburgh added that with the ‘Day Zero’ water restriction in effect throughout the city, cruise tourism was also an undemanding form of tourism for the city.
“We hope that the development of the planned cruise ship terminal will bring even more visitors to the city, boost the local economy and create jobs. One of the best things about the Queen Mary 2 and the other ships like her, is that they bring their own water,” she said.
The Grand Lobby, where passengers board Queen Mary 2.
In addition to its own water desalination plant, Queen Mary 2 also boasts 15 restaurants and bars, five swimming pools, a full-size theatre, a casino, a spa, a 3D cinema, a planetarium and one of the largest ballrooms at sea, where nightly balls are hosted with a live orchestra.
Cunard’s flagship is deliberately nostalgic in both design and on-board atmosphere, recalling a time when ocean liners were the only means of international travel. A suit and tie is de rigeur for dinner every night, and all meals are served by staff wearing white gloves.
Passengers staying in the Queen’s Grill Suites even have a personal butler.
The passengers aboard Cunard’s ships therefore have money, and they spend that money when they go ashore.
A 2011 City of Cape Town report found that cruise ships carrying around 2,000 passengers result in spending to the value of R2.2m per day. A total of 1,546 passengers on board the Queen Mary 2 disembarked in Cape Town.
And Queen Mary 2 isn’t the only big cruise ship coming to South Africa during the current cruise season. Another 11 ships are expected to make port calls in the city between January and the close of the season in April.
Another ten cruise ships will use Cape Town as a departure port for cruises, including Silversea’s luxurious Silver Spirit, Hapag-Lloyd’s flagship Europa 2, Fred Olsen’s oh-so-British Boudicca, Seabourn’s newly refitted Sojourn, Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Astor, Holland America Line’s venerable Amsterdam, RSSC’s Seven Seas Navigator and the new Seven Seas Explorer, and Cunard’s art deco Queen Elizabeth.
Last year over 31,000 passengers and 15,000 crew arrived in Cape Town on board cruise ships, supporting 300,000 jobs, injecting R100-million directly into the economy. This compares to just 6,000 cruise tourists in 2012.