EL cruise season ends with Scandinavian stunner’s maiden voyage to SA
17 April 2019 | Web Article Number: ME201914365
THE arrival of the state-of-the-art Viking Sun cruise liner at the Port of East London on Monday, 15 April, closed the port’s 2018-19 cruise season on a high note, with 830 passengers disembarking for excursions throughout the city – the highest ever, according to the port’s Corporate Affairs Manager, Terry Taylor.
East London Port Manager Sharon Sijako, said: “Viking Sun is on her maiden South African voyage and this is also the very first time that her owner, Viking Ocean Cruises, has included the country on its global itinerary. We are delighted to welcome both the line and the vessel to East London waters as the latest in a growing list of cruise industry players who are endorsing our city’s tourism potential.”
Sijako said the local reserves, Mpongo Private Game Reserve and Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve, enjoyed spin offs from the nine calls by cruise liners to East London over the season.
Half-day tours in and around the city included a natural history tour, a visit to the Khaya La Bantu Xhosa Cultural Village in Chintsa, the Mercedes-Benz factory, an East London art tour and a kayak adventure. Passengers were also able to take in rounds of golf at the city’s two world-class golf courses which cradle the Port of East London on each side.
Flying the flag of Norway, Viking Sun arrived first in Durban on Friday, 12 April. In East London she was welcomed by the port’s management team and Harbour Master, Kgadi Matlala, who presented a plaque to the ship’s master, Captain Olav Soevdsnes.
After East London she called at Port Elizabeth on 16 April and was due to end the South African leg of her voyage in Cape Town on 18 April. She then ventures into the South Atlantic to explore Lüderitz and Walvis Bay, as well as several other ports along the West African coast.
Built in 2017, Viking Sun has a length of 227 metres and a beam of 28.8 meters, with a guest capacity of 930. Viking Ocean Cruises operates global ocean cruises with a fleet of six ocean ships and river cruises with a fleet of almost 60 Viking Longships.
The company announced in September 2018 that it would be featuring South Africa heavily on its 128-day World Cruise from Miami to London, which includes 44 port calls in 21 countries on five continents.
Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) GM: Corporate Affairs and External Relations, Moshe Motlohi, said: “During 2018/19 we once again enjoyed year-on-year growth with more global operators using our ports, resulting in economic spinoffs for tour operators, hotels, game reserves, lodges and tourist attractions in our port cities.
“We’ve seen an increase in South Africans taking regular cruises, as well as increased numbers of international operators visiting South Africa. Confirmed cruises for the next few years are extremely promising and definitely something for us all to look forward to."