A view of Table Mountain from the deck of the MSC Opera
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16+ yrs

12 - 15 yrs

2 - 11 yrs

under 2 yrs

Boat Cruises from Cape Town

Cape Town, with its multitude of tourist activities, is a regular destination on world cruises. That, combined with the regular MSC Cruises, provides a plethora of choices. If you're booking a large group, be sure to ask for a group special.

Starlight Cruises

Starlight Cruises used to offer cruises from Cape Town on the MSC Rhapsody, MSC Melody and MSC Sinfonia cruise ships; before they were merged into MSC Cruises' South African operation. At the moment it is just the MSC Sinfonia which is cruising South Africa's water.

Book a cruise by emailing capetonian@capetown.dj

Cape Town to Durban cruise

One of the most popular cruises is the one between Cape Town and Durban. If you're from Gauteng, it means you can combine it with a holiday in both cities. If you're from Durban or Cape Town; it means you only have to book a 1-way flight and can combine it with a holiday in your non-resident city (think uShaka Marine World in Durban and views from the top of Table Mountain). This is usually a 3 night cruise, and often includes a stop in Port Elizabeth.

Port Charges and Insurance

Some unscrupulous travel agents exclude insurance and port charges from their quoted fees. Be sure to check whether these fees are included. Also check whether there are mandatory services charges and whether these are included.

MSC Sinfonia Cape Town to Italy cruise

Do you prefer a longer cruise? Check with your agent whether there are repositioning cruises between Cape Town and Italy.

This usually has stops at Walvis Bay, Dakar, Tenerife, Funchal, Malaga, Civitavecchia and Genoa.

Cape Town to Walvis Bay

Cape Town to Walvis Bay is typically a 4 night cruise, with 2 full days at sea, one day at Walvis Bay (and 2 partial days in Cape Town). Note that this cruise sometimes encounters rougher weather and waves.

Day

Por

1

Cape Town (South Africa)

2

At Sea

3

Walvis Bay (Namibia)

4

At Sea

5

Cape Town (South Africa)

MSC Sinfonia cruise ship - top deck view

Cape Town Cruise Terminal

The Cape Town Cruise Terminal is a rather drab building, and a plan is in place to rebuild it.

Welcome to Cape Town Cruise Terminal - sign

Here's a wider angle look,so we can see the Cape Town Cruise Terminal in relation to the V&A Waterfront - those buildings under construction are in the Old Grain Silo area:

Cape Town Cruise Terminal, with the V&A Waterfront in the distance (grain silo area)

Durban to Cape Town cruise review

2 Jan 2017. A nice part of booking with Comair/Kulula, is that they sms a reminder a couple of hours before the flight, which helped get me off my backside and finalise the packing... Kulula kindly delayed the flight by an hour, giving us more time to pack. We boarded our Kulula flight to Durban, with our 4 littles ones in tow (aged 9, 6, 4 and 1) - we had almost the whole of row 3 (seat A to E), and when our youngest turns 2 we'll have to book the entire row! The flight was pleasant - my main complaint is that my 17" laptop doesn't fit so well on the tray table - the space available would only really work with an ipad (which my daughter was using). Nevertheless, I did manage to type this paragraph whilst on board.

Passengers boarding a kulula plane parked at Cape Town International Airport (CPT)

In Durban we hired a Hyundai H1 from Budget Rent a Car - which basically means Avis, as the two companies are linked these days. If you're wondering how to find them, it's quite easy - here's the view of them as you exit King Shaka International Airport.

View of Avis and Budget Car Rental offices on exiting King Shaka International Airport (DUR)

Our Hyundai H1:

And, if you've got the money, then you could hire one of Avis's luxury vehicles - here's their BMW i8 with eDrive:

BMW i8 e Drive being hired out as aan Avis Luxury Vehicle

If you are flying in on the morning of your cruise, an option is to take an MSC Cruises shuttle through from the airport to the harbour - ask your travel agent:

MSC Cruises shuttle buses at Durban harbour

The traffic in Durban was crazy, with many people wanting to visit the beach. Eventually we got through the madness and arrived at The Waterfront Hotel & Spa, which is a very basic hotel (e.g. no fridge or bath in the room, no pool on the property), but has the considerable advantage of being close to uShaka Marine World (our kids absolutely love it there). There was free wi-fi, albeit slow (but not slow enough to make me switch to my mobile phone's hotspot), and whilst they offer a laundry facility, it's far from efficient. (After handing in dirty laundry one morning, in the evening of the following day, we discovered that it had been forgotten at reception).

Around the parking lot of The Waterfront Hotel are some old walls which I understand have some historical significance, and so may not be knocked down. Durban's Waterfront reminds one of how Cape Town's V&A Waterfront was in the early 1990s.

Walls with historical significance next to Durban's The Waterfront Hotel.

Unfortunately one of us got ill, but after phoning around we found a tiny medical centre at 24 Joseph Nduli Avenue. We travelled by Uber, which worked fine. On the plus side, uShaka Marine World was once again an absolute blast - it's a world class venue and a must-visit for anybody with kids.

Tip: Board the ship as early as possible, so that you can enjoy the ship for longer (the price is the same, no matter whether you come earlier or not). The check-in times are on your ticket.

Embarking on the MSC Sinfonia was a process:

  1. Check in baggage using E-ticket and Embarkation form

  2. Check in desks with passport and embarkation form.

  3. Immigration, photos & getting on board.

  4. Collect registration forms for the kids clubs (you could do it at the club as well, but I find it better to get the queuing out of the way first), if you haven't pre-populated them online beforehand, as well as collect identification bands for every child.

  5. Cruise cards are received in the cabin by 1pm (we were there by 12h30, and our cabin was already open with cruise cards waiting). Before 23h00 on the day of embarkation, you must activate your cruise card, using a credit card at a "Cruise Card Activation Point", which are located on decks 5 and 6. They accept American Express, Discovery cards, Diners, JCB, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron. It is also possible to use a debit card or to make a cash deposit on your Cruise Card at Guest Services. Note that your kids will be able to use their cards for purchases. You are given an advanced credit on your on-board account, which you can spend before activating your card. The amount varies depending on the length of the cruise.

If you bought "Easy On-board" tickets then you can jump a number of the above queues (but not step 1, checking in the baggage, which tends to be the longest queue). You're provided with your Easy On-board sticker at the check in desks.

MSC Sinfonia top deck with spray park

Kids Clubs

As mentioned, it's most convenient to complete the registration forms for the kids clubs before boarding, but it can also be done later at the clubs themselves. There are 3 clubs that require a parent to sign the child in and out:

There are two more clubs for those over 12, but still under 18. The Young Club for ages 12 to 14 and the Teens Club for ages 15 to 17. Children over 12 do not need to wear an identification band and you do not need to register them for these clubs. There are programs available on-board detailing the activities for the day and the kids can rock up for any of these events, if they wish.

Note that your kids will be photographed and videotaped, perhaps for promotional purposes on the ship.

Our suite

For the first few years of cruising we enjoyed inside cabins (no window), then we treated ourselves and booked ocean view cabins, then we upgraded to balcony cabins, and now finally we've made it to the top level - the luxury & roominess of a suite (well, 2 suites actually, to fit all the kids in). The main differences between a suite and a balcony cabin are that the suite has a lounge area and a bath, rather than just a shower; whilst both have a balcony. On shorter cruises you won't spend as much time in your cabin, so it doesn't matter too much, but on the longer cruises it makes a big difference (e.g. the 20 night repositioning cruise between Cape Town and Italy).

Here's a photo of a suite:

Suite on the MSC Sinfonia cruise ship

And here's a photo of the suite next to ours (used by our kids), with the curtains drawn (I'd like to praise the kids for keeping the room tidy, but credit goes to the ship's wonderful cleaners):

Suite on the MSC Sinfonia with curtains drawn

And here's the majestic view which greeted me when I woke up on the last day of the cruise, and we had arrived in Cape Town. There wasn't an opportunity to watch the ship enter the port, as this occurred at 2am, with the officers concerned about potentially strong winds closing the port. You'll notice the furniture on the deck - from a safety perspective it is possible for a toddler to push the chairs against the glass and climb over, so exercise caution before letting kids wander about unsupervised.

And when you get out on the balcony the view just keeps getting better:

Note that you can also book 2 balcony cabins which are inter-leading rooms.

First day events included

Second day events included
Dress Code

Tank tops, swimsuits, bathrobes and bare feet are not permitted either in the restaurants or the Buffet.

Karaoke

Every evening there was live karaoke, at the Manhattan Bar, from 21h30 to 23h00.

Running track

On the 12th deck you're allowed to practice jogging or power walking. There isn't a well demarcated track, and I only saw one person jogging around it during our cruise. (However my wife went for an early morning walk at 6:30am with the kids and she mentioned that there were a number of people jogging and walking on the deck) Because it's not well demarcated, one needs to jog around where people have positioned themselves.

MSC Sinfonia's not so well demarcated running track

Pools & water play

There are 2 main pools, which are each divided by a net into a very shallow end for the kids and a deep end. It's great fun to swim in the waves in the pool, created by the ship moving about. Be warned, however, that there's usually a lifeguard (?) there, who will blow his whistle should he see anything risky going on (e.g. kids climbing up the nets).

There are 2 jacuzzis, which tend to get dominated by kids. There are rules that the kids must be accompanied by an adult; a maximum of 6 people per pool; and a maximum of 10 minutes. The jacuzzis tended to be in high demand, with about a 20 minute queue.

Jacuzzis on the MSC Sinfonia cruise ship

A new feature on the Sinfonia (new, since the ship got revamped & extended), is the DoReMi Spray Park for kids.

Doremi Spray Park on the MSC Sinfonia cruise ship

Here's a picture from a different angle of the spray park:

Kids spray park on the MSC Sinfonia

Sunsets & Sunrises

To get the most out of your cruise, watch every sunset and sunrise (and take photos to remember it by).

Sunset on the MSC Sinfonia's top deck

Photos

Take a decent enough camera along with you on your cruise - I merely use the camera built into my Samsung Note 5. The in-house photos are high quality but also expensive, so you'll want to pose and take a bunch of photos yourself.

Posing for a photo on the MSC Sinfonia cruise ship's twelth deck track

Restaurants

There are 3 restaurants on the Sinfonia:

Some of the meal deals cost money, for example here's a steak and wine special:

MSC Voyagers Club

The MSC Voyagers Club members enjoy a range of benefits. Depending on your status, these may include:

We also had a free fruit basket delivered to our room at the beginning of the cruise.

Here's a free 1 hour session in the thermal area, which I was given:

MSC Voyagers Club - free 1 hour session in the thermal area.

Here's a view from the aft end of the ship:

View from aft end of the MSC Sinfonia; with the MSC logo on the funnel

Finally, after arriving in Cape Town, it's time to pick up the luggage. It's well organised, but still a surprise that more luggage doesn't go "missing".

Luggage being sorted at Cape Town Cruise Terminal, with the MSC Sinfonia in the background