Setting Sail: From Booking to Boarding

05 December 2023
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For some, a cruising holiday is the ultimate luxury — but for many, it’s a totally unknown quantity. What are the costs involved? How does pricing work? Where will we go? How do I choose a route? There are so many questions revolving around cruising, and we plan to answer them. Stick around to learn more about cruising in general, and specifically cruising with MSC Cruises

All Aboard! 

Embarking on a cruise is a journey filled with anticipation and excitement. From the variety of amenities on board to the practicalities of booking and embarking, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to make your cruise experience seamless. Join us as we navigate through frequently asked questions, cruise dos and don’ts, and the unique offerings that set cruising apart. 

What is the advantage of a cruise? 

A cruise is not just a vacation; it’s a transformative experience that captivates the hearts of travellers worldwide. The allure of cruising lies in the unique blend of luxury, convenience, and adventure that sets it apart from other holiday options.  

  1. See the world: Cruising offers a dynamic escape, allowing you to wake up to new horizons every day. Unlike traditional holidays that may confine you to a single destination, a cruise unfolds a tapestry of landscapes, cultures, and experiences as you sail from port to port. The anticipation of exploring diverse locales adds an element of excitement and discovery to your journey. 
  1. Luxury at sea: Often, cruising is synonymous with luxury. From lavishly appointed cabins to world-class dining and entertainment, the cruise experience is designed to elevate your holiday into a pampering escape. The indulgence of being catered to by attentive staff while surrounded by the vastness of the open sea creates an ambience of unparalleled opulence. 
  1. Versatility: One of the remarkable aspects of cruising is its versatility. Whether you seek a leisurely exploration of picturesque rivers, an adventure-filled multi-stop journey, or the unique charm of ‘cruises to nowhere,’ where the ship becomes the destination, cruising caters to diverse preferences.  
  1. Unpack once: One of the practical joys of cruising is the convenience. Unlike traditional holidays that involve constant packing and unpacking, a cruise provides a comfortable and seamless base. Your floating hotel takes you to different destinations, eliminating the need for tedious travel logistics and allowing you to maximise your time enjoying the journey itself. 
  1. Endless entertainment: Cruise ships are a floating world of entertainment, ensuring there’s never a dull moment. From Broadway-style shows to thrilling activities like rock climbing and water parks, there’s something for every taste and age group. The onboard experience is carefully curated to cater to a diverse range of interests, making it an ideal choice for families, friends, and solo travellers alike. 
  1. Cruise sustainability: MSC Cruises stands out not only for its luxurious offerings but also for its commitment to sustainability. The cruise line introduces cleaner fuels, promotes responsible travel through shore excursions, and actively participates in waste reduction and recycling initiatives. Choosing MSC Cruises means contributing to a more responsible and eco-conscious form of travel. 

Cruising is cool with MSC 

Cruising can be a symphony of indulgence, exploration, and relaxation. It transcends the boundaries of traditional travel, offering a unique combination of luxury, convenience, and adventure. Whether you’re drawn to the excitement of multi-stop journeys or the serenity of a “cruise to nowhere”, MSC Cruises presents a world of possibilities on the high seas, promising an unforgettable escape that goes beyond the ordinary. 

The upcoming 2023/24 cruise season brings a thrilling addition to South Africa’s shores — the MSC Splendida. Let’s explore details surrounding an MSC Cruise, and of this magnificent vessel, as it graces South Africa’s ports for the first time, offering a new dimension to MSC’s cruise offerings. 

1. Choosing your departure point: Durban vs. Cape Town 

For local South African cruises, MSC provides two departure points: Durban’s Cruise Terminal and Cape Town’s Cruise Terminal. From Cape Town, you can explore either Durban or Namibia, while Durban offers adventures to Mozambique and the unique fun of a cruise to nowhere, where the cruise is the star of the show. 

2. What does a cruise cost? 

Cruises are typically offered at a per-person sharing rate, where all ‘board and lodging’ is included. This means that your base price will include your room and food, and usually some drinks. Some will even include excursions. Most cruises will give you the option to buy add-on packages before departure for things like drinks or even activities. 

3. All-inclusive or à la carte? 

While meals and entertainment are part of the package, some cruises and cruise types will include more than others. All-inclusive trips will include almost everything, even alcoholic drinks. À la carte trips will include the basics, but you may have to pay for some activities, excursions, and even some onboard restaurants and bars. Make sure you understand what you are buying so you can make an informed decision — the last thing you want is a big bill presented as you leave the ship.  

4. Freedom to explore 

For most people, the joy of a cruise is the opportunity to see a variety of places stress-free. From an MSC cruise from Cape Town to Namibia, or an NCL cruise of the Med, there’s no end to the places you can see on a cruise. Before you depart, make sure you know what your visa and passport requirements are. While an MSC ‘cruise to nowhere’ doesn’t require you to carry your passport (just your ID), a cruise to Mozambique or Namibia will. Similarly, most South Africans will require at minimum a Schengen visa for Mediterranean cruises. But if your cruise stops at countries outside the Schengen zone, you will not be allowed off the ship if you don’t have the correct visa. 

5. Family-friendly cruising 

Cruising is the ultimate holiday resort, especially for families. In a very family-friendly move, many cruises allow one or more children to sleep and eat for free, charging only the port taxes and mandatory fees. MSC, for example, will allow up to two children (under the age of 18) to sleep and eat free in a multiple-berth cabin, making a family holiday that much more affordable. Cruise ships will also often have a kids club available, as well as one or more pools, and many forms of entertainment to keep the whole family entertained. 

6. Luxury redefined: MSC Yacht Club 

Discover the epitome of high-end cruising with MSC’s exclusive offering — the MSC Yacht Club. Designed to add an element of exclusive luxury to the cruise experience, the MSC Yacht Club includes butler service, and priority check-in and room service. It also includes premium drinks and WiFi packages, as well as access to an exclusive spa, private sports facilities and so much more. 

7. Decoding pricing 

Most cruises will be advertised on a PPS — or per-person sharing — basis. This refers to the price each traveller has to pay when sharing a cabin. Depending on the cabin capacity, prices could decrease depending on the number of travellers booked or increase if a solo traveller is booking a cabin on their own (i.e. not sharing). Additionally, cruise prices will vary depending on the room type you choose — balconies and windows cost more than interior rooms — but, generally, outside the rooms, everyone has access to the same restaurants, theatres, pools, and entertainment. 

8. Enhancing your experience 

For many cruisers, it makes sense to pre-purchase certain packages ahead of departure. For example, most tickets will come with meals and some drinks, but if you plan to drink frequently or prefer alcoholic or speciality drinks, you might want to consider pre-purchasing a drinks package.

9. Navigating restrictions 

Port Security is obligated to search guests and luggage and confiscate any article that is internationally recognised as dangerous for the safety and security of guests, crew, and the ship.  

Items on the restricted list include alcohol, firearms, sharp objects such as blades and scissors, flammable and explosive materials, items with heating elements or open flames (e.g. clothing irons, kettles, hotplates, candles, incense) and drones. Make sure to leave these items at home, or they will be confiscated and not returned to you.  

Book Your 2024 Cruise Today 

The MSC Splendida will be cruising South African waters until March 2024. There’s no better time to experience the magic of cruising, and with departures from both Cape Town and Durban, it’s convenient for all South Africans. 

Keen to cruise further afield? We’ve got cruises around the Middle or Far East, through the Mediterranean, or from the United Kingdom to New York! See the Northern Lights, or explore the rivers of The Netherlands or Germany. There are so many places to explore, and doing so by boat is the ultimate in convenience and fun! Get in touch with one of our experienced Travel Advisors, and let’s plan your next holiday — cruising style

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