Voyages between Europe and South Africa at the beginning and end of each South African summer cruise season are referred to as “Grand Voyages”. These “Grand Voyages” are longer cruises that take in a number of destinations in one seamless journey between Africa and Europe. Many repeat passengers annually make the crossing between Europe and Africa, preferring the relaxed comfort of a cruise where every detail is taken care of by the friendly crew onboard, allowing the passengers to sit back, relax and enjoy long sunny days at sea, fine dining and top class entertainment. No packing and unpacking, no taxis, no wasted hours in airports checking in and waiting for flight connections, passengers on a Grand Voyage sit back, relax and enjoy a world of luxury and seamless sightseeing.
Ilha de Mozambique, Mozambique’s first capital and now a UNESCO World Heritage site is a fascinating destination for visitors interested in culture and history. The island is easily explored on foot and a walk though Stone Town reveals the mixed architecture of the churches, mosques and old colonial buildings whose crumbling walls are a testament to a lack of maintenance in current years. Several buildings are being restored and some general merchants, souvenir shops and restaurants have set up businesses there. The Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Baluarte built in 1522, is the oldest non-indigenous building in the Southern hemisphere and is well worth the walk to the Northernmost point to see it. Other places of interest include St Paul’s Palace, The Museum of Sacred Art and the 16th century Fort of São Sebastião which crowns the headland.
Maputo, the capital of Mozambique is included as a scheduled stop on 5 night itineraries which also include Portuguese Island and Pomene. The Railway Station built in 1910 (with the metal dome famously designed by Mr. Eiffel), as well as the local market are within walking distance of the port where the ship comes alongside. Passengers wishing to explore the cultural, historical and scenic areas of Maputo will be required to book one of the onboard shore excursions, or to make use of one of the many tuk-tuk taxis that are available to ferry passengers in to town on the day that the ship is in port. (shore excursions and local transport are at the passengers’ own cost). Places worth visiting include the Natural History Museum, the Museum of the Revolution, The Art museum and the focal point of the city, the Praca de Independencia. Fortaleza, the ancient Portuguese fort with its’ cannons pointed out to sea is also well worth a photo stop.
Perfectly nestled between the sea on the one side and an estuary on the other, Pomene Bay is the new jewel in the local South African cruise portfolio of destinations. Included in selected 4 and 5 night itineraries Pomene offers cruise guests pristine white beaches on which to relax and take in the African sun, and a sheltered haven for swimming and enjoying the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. For the more energetic Pomene is the perfect place for walking and exploring, from the mangrove swamps to the magnificent rock formations on the northern side of the bay.
A firm South African favourite, Portuguese Island is the darling destination of South African cruise passengers and is included in by far the most scheduled cruise departures of any destination. Portuguese Island is included in selected 3 night / 4 night and even 5 night sailings and offers cruise passengers a brief interlude on land from lazy days at sea. The cruise facility at Portuguese Island, (a nature reserve and living dune) has been carefully developed over a few years, with the emphasis being on the least disruptive impact on the environment by visitors to the island. Cruise guests can enjoy a day on the beach doing as much or as little as they wish, depending on how active they like to be. Various shore excursions and beach activities are offered, and a barbeque lunch is served and numerous bars throughout the facility ensure that guests are well catered for. Local vendors display hand crafts for sale, and for this it is suggested that you take some Rands or USD in hard currency if you’d like to purchase souvenirs whilst on the island.
The Indian Ocean Islands of Reunion and Mauritius are available only on the 11night New Year cruise in the 2017/18 South African Local cruise season.
La Possession is nestled between the Capital St Denis and the commune of le Port on the Island of Reunion. Just a few kilometres from La Possession is Circus of Salazie, the remains of a volcanic caldera which lies waiting to be explored. The volcano is no longer active and instead you’ll find lush forests thriving on the fertile soil, and as you ascend along the winding road you’ll see small villages set in the forest. Saint Denis nearby offers impressive examples of Creole architecture and 2 buildings worth a visit include the Central Post Office and the Department of Agriculture. A visit to the local market should not be missed as it is here that local crafts can be purchased to take home to family and friends back home as souvenirs of your trip.
Port Louis, the Capital of Mauritius is also where the ship arrives and comes alongside. Disembarking passengers can either take a water taxi (a short hop across the harbour at minimal cost – around $2 per person), passengers can walk to the harbour entrance and take a taxi to Port Louis central. The waterfront development in Port Louis offers shoppers designer as well as local brands for sale, from clothing to art and upmarket souvenirs. Just across the road is the famous Port Louis central market which is a flea market/ street market where more mass-market souvenirs are available for sale. The market is a bustling, energetic place where tourists rub shoulders with locals going about their daily fresh produce purchases. For those who prefer to venture further out and explore, some highlights would include a visit to Pamplemousses Botanical Gardens and Chamarel 7 coloured earths.
Walvis Bay lagoon is a bird-lovers’ paradise and often your arrival into the port of Walvis Bay will yield sightings of pelican, flamingos and other bird life that inhabit the wetlands around the port area. For those who don’t wish to venture too far from the port, head to the famous ‘Dune 7” the highest dune in the world and experience breath-taking views over the bay and surrounding areas, or pay a visit to Namibia’s largest salt mines to see the facilities there, or simply enjoy a meal of homegrown Walvis Bay oysters in one of the small restaurants close to the port. For those happy to venture further, Swakopmund is a coastal resort town a short distance up the coast from Walvis Bay which has much to offer and any sightseeing should include the 20th Century house and tower of the Woermann family (owners of a German shipping line), which is now home to an art gallery; the old German barracks, the railway station and Hohenzollen House (originally built as a hotel).
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