What’s new for the 2020 cruising season

A highlight on the 2020/2021 cruise itinerary is the 14-day New Year cruise.

The 2019/2020 cruise season kicks off with a bang on November 17 2019 with the return of MSC Orchestra to local waters. Here’s what else is in store for the 2020 cruising season – locally and in far-flung waters abroad.

But first, why cruising?

In an economy that is doing the average South African no favours, cruising is riding a high wave of success. Cruises present incredible value for money, with all accommodation, food, onboard entertainment and transport from destination to destination covered – and all paid upfront. Guests can also pre-book drink vouchers and more, so there need not be any surprises or additional costs to pay on disembarkation day.

There’s also a cruise for every age group and type of traveller. No matter how much time a traveller has available, there is a cruise to suit. The ever-popular local and regional cruises ranging from three to 14 nights are ideal for shorter breaks, while the seven-night and longer itineraries in destinations such as the Caribbean, Mediterranean, and the Middle East are great for extended holidays.

Local cruising

For the ultimate value-for-money holiday, for groups, couples or particularly families, MSC Cruises’ packages are the best in the cruising market.

MSC Orchestra will cruise her popular routes around South Africa, to Namibia, Mozambique and even further afield to Mauritius and Seychelles from November 2019 to April 18 2020.

But, for 2020 there’s an even bigger surprise in store. MSC Musica will start the local cruise season in November 2020 and will then be joined by the MSC Opera, sailing from her homeport Cape Town in December 2020.

“Our decision to increase the number of ships for the South African cruise season in 2020/2021 is due to the significant growth in demand we have seen over the past few years,” explained Ross Volk, MD for MSC Cruises South Africa.

“Our most recent season saw a 25% increase in the number of guests compared to the same period in 2017/2018.”

The MSC Musica will sail until April 2021 and the MSC Opera until March 2021. This additional cruise liner will allow capacity for another 50,000 cruise passengers and will bring the total cruise departures on offer to 60, with a choice from one of two homeports: Cape Town or Durban. Passengers can choose from eight different itineraries.

From December 2020 to March 2021 MSC Opera, homeported in Cape Town, will join MSC Musica, which will be homeported in Durban. The ships will alternate routes.

A highlight on the 2020/2021 cruise itinerary is the 14-day New Year cruise. For the first time, Port Victoria in Seychelles will be included in this itinerary.

Passengers can also look forward to departing from the new Durban Cruise Terminal from 2021 onwards. Over R200 million has been invested into the new terminal, which hopes to be operational by January 2021.

Further afield – to be launched this year

New ships to be launched this year include the MSC Grandiosa, Costa Smeralda, Sky Princess, and Norwegian Encore.

MSC Grandiosa will be, as her name implies, rather grand. She is currently being built and will become the new flagship for MSC Cruises. She will be the largest ship in the fleet. Launching in Hamburg, Germany, in November this year, MSC Grandiosa will cruise the Mediterranean. Guests can enjoy 11 dining venues, 21 bars and lounges and a Mediterranean-style promenade. State of the art technology makes the vessel much more energy-efficient and enables cleaner ship emissions.

Costa Smeralda will set sail in October 2019 and will sail the Western Mediterranean.

Sky Princess is the fourth Royal-class cruise ship being built and will debut in the Caribbean and Mediterranean in October. Check in to a Sky Suite for the panoramic views – the suites boast the largest balconies at sea.

Norwegian Encore will debut in Miami in November 2019 and will feature a colourful hull designed by Spanish artist Eduardo Arranz-Bravo. The vessel will sail seven-day voyages to the Eastern Caribbean.

Hurtigruten’s MS Roald Amundsen, the world’s first hybrid-powered cruise ship, can boast of many firsts. She will be the first ship to be officially named in Antarctica. The ceremony is scheduled for November 8 2019.

Further afield – 2020 and beyond

It’s no surprise that the travel industry’s fastest-growing segment, cruising, will see many more vessels taking to the seas for the 2020/2021 cruise season. Just a few to launch in 2020 will be the Celebrity Apex, P&O Iona, Enchanted Princess, MSC Virtuosa and Odyssey of the Seas (Royal Caribbean).

Enchanted Princess will debut in June 2020 for her inaugural sail in the Mediterranean, before making her way to the Caribbean later in the year. A stand-out feature of the ship (similar to sister ship, Sky Princess) are the Sky Suites on the very top deck, with the largest private balconies at sea. Drawing inspiration from her three sister ships, Enchanted Princess will also offer an Italian-inspired piazza, the dramatic over-the-ocean glass walkway (Seawalk) and Broadway-inspired shows in the theatre.

Caribbean cruise-lovers can rejoice at the launch of Odyssey of the Seas in November 2020. The Royal Caribbean vessel will operate four to eight-night cruises stopping at all ports of call throughout the Caribbean, a favourite destination of South African cruisers.

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