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Friday, September 29, 2023

4 types of cruises South African travellers can enjoy

As people we are different and have individual tastes and needs.

According to Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), cruising has continued to boom in South Africa, evidenced by the increased passenger ship traffic into Cape Town.

With travel on an upward trajectory, South Africa experienced record-breaking numbers for the 2022/2023 cruise season.

“Cape Town welcomed 75 ships in the most recent cruise season – double the number in 2019/2020, which saw 39 ship visits. The increasing number of vessels and cruise lines docking in Cape Town speaks to the increased interest in cruising and South Africa,” said NCL.

With taking to the high seas becoming a growing trend, there are trips to suit all type of travellers.

Here are 4 cruises for catering to travellers with different interests, according to NCL.

Best for nature-lovers and adventure seekers: Destination Alaska with a visit to Glacier Bay, Skagway and Juneau

A cruise ship making its way through the inner passage of Skagway in Alaska. Picture: Unsplash

Renowned for its gigantic glaciers, abundant national parks and, of course the Northern Lights and midnight sun, Alaska is a nature-packed wonderland sure to impress even the most well-travelled nature and adventure enthusiasts. The best part about this is it’s possible to unpack on land and at sea.

Experiences not to be missed on this trip include visiting Fairbanks, the second-largest city in Alaska, to see the Northern Lights and midnight sun in all their glory. Birders can spot birds of prey soaring out at sea while animal lovers can spot caribou, grizzlies and black bears when trekking through the sprawling national parks.

There are also gargantuan glaciers – the Mendenhall Glacier, Byron Glacier, Hubbard Glacier and Matanuska Glacier that are a must-see, with glacial hikes and kayaking part of the itinerary.

Foodies can tempt their taste buds with smoked rainbow trout, deep-fried halibut, rockfish tacos and for the adventurous eaters, reindeer sausage – an Alaskan street food.

Best for family trips: Destination Qatar and the Middle East

Dune Bashing at Sealine in Doha, Qatar. Picture: Unsplash

The Middle East has become a favourite stop for travellers eager to explore this historic corner of the world. Like many of its Middle Eastern neighbours, Qatar’s capital, Doha, is very family-friendly.

An intriguing mix of ultra-modern skyscrapers with a proud history and culture, Doha is a fascinating glimpse into this rapidly changing country. Many South African expats call it home.

Experiences not to miss on this trip include traversing the world’s tallest sand dunes on an exhilarating desert safari in Abu Dhabi or learning about the the region’s rich heritage and culture at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha. Family experiences also include dining in Souq Waqif in Doha and exploring the Unesco World Heritage Site Qal’at Al in Bahrain, or browsing locally made crafts in the shops of some of the island’s small villages.

If this seems right up your alley, the consider the 17-day cruise departing from Doha to Oman, the UAE, Seychelles, Madagascar and Mauritius offered by NCL.

Best for foodies and culture vultures: Destination Asia with Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia

The Golden Buddha statue in Phuket. Picture: Unsplash

According to NCL, cruises to Asia are expected to sell like hotcakes for South Africans as many Asian ports of call are visa-free, and there is good air connectivity from South Africa to Asia.

The appeal for South Africans is that one can fly to Asia, step on board and unpack once while visiting a number of far-flung Asian ports that you wouldn’t usually see on your own.

“Asia is not commonly a continent that is explored in an all-inclusive manner, so a cruise is a fantastic way to explore the continent from a fresh perspective and tick off a variety of destinations and cultures in one easy, hassle-free trip. Asia’s incredibly diverse offering ensures that there is something for everyone, from nature lovers to beachgoers, but for foodies and culture vultures in particular, the continent is a veritable feast,” said NCL.

Experiences not to be missed include visiting the the huge golden Buddha and stunning temples in Phuket, eating the world’s best street food and at Michelin-starred restaurants in Singapore, or taking a cycle rickshaw through pagodas, colonial architecture and vibrant markets in Ho Chi Minh City.

Best for a close-to-home easy breezy holiday: Destinations South Africa, Namibia and the Indian Ocean Islands

An aerial view of Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Supplied

NCL announced that its Norwegian Dawn will be offering 12-day cruises sailing from South Africa to Namibia, Mauritius, Madagascar and Mozambique from early 2024.

The cruise line also revealed that in an exciting first for cruises from South Africa, Norwegian Dawn will offer an epic 21-day cruise from Cape Town all the way up the west coast of Africa to Barcelona, Spain from March 2024.

Experiences not to be missed include catching some sun or waves at Alkantstrand Beach in Richard’s Bay, exploring the highest sand dune in Namibia (382 metres) near Swakopmund and Walvis Bay, and visiting Mauritius, Madagascar and Mozambique in a stylish new way.

Read the latest issue of TRAVEL digital magazine here.


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