This article was first published in the Itinerary Planning Special Report 2017. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.
Located on South Africa’s southwest coast, the V&A Waterfront is a connection between the city of Cape Town and the sea. A bustling working harbour, it is home to the E Berth Cruise Terminal and attracts a total of 24 million visitors each year.
As Cape Town’s marine gateway, the cruise terminal is often the first experience cruise ship passengers have of the city.
During the 2016/2017 season, the terminal received a total of 50 vessels, processed 67,737 passengers, and 14,414 crew members. These numbers emphasise the importance of creating a safe and comfortable experience for passengers entering the terminal.
New upgrades are now taking place in phased stages to the V&A Waterfront’s existing 8,292 square metre terminal building, with the aim of enhancing ease of travel for visitors and extending a warm welcome to the city.
“The cruise ship industry is an important part of Cape Town’s economy and of our city’s proud maritime heritage,” says David Green, CEO of V&A Waterfront. “As beautiful as Cape Town is, if a passenger’s arrival is an unpleasant experience, it can affect their entire perception of the city. We know that the cruise line industry offers enormous potential for tourism growth, so we are determined to extend the world-class experience the V&A Waterfront is known for to the terminal.”
The terminal building originally served as a pre-cooling facility for fruit export, and the first phase of the recent project included ensuring the building was suitable to receive passengers and to house immigration, customs and other state bodies.
By November 2016, the cruise terminal was equipped with a reception and waiting areas for passengers and crew disembarking from liners, as well as an area where visitors meeting passengers could wait. Baggage handling services and immigration and customs facilities form part of the new infrastructure.
As a result of this first phase of upgrades, passengers now experience a well-managed and efficient service on arrival in an attractive and welcoming environment. In this way, the V&A Waterfront provides them with a positive and welcoming first impression of Cape Town.
The second phase of upgrades will see the development of the building for multi-use in order to attract year-round activity. While the cruise ship industry is seasonal between October and May, ample parking and proximity to the V&A Waterfront will help attract local visitors.
The US$2.8 million second phase of the development is focused on the upper level of the building and includes the provision of staircases and lifts. Importantly, the upper two levels will contain a mix of space for events, restaurants and various related tenants.
Travel away from the terminal is easy for passengers once they arrive, with metered taxis, My CiTi buses and the City Sightseeing buses placed within walking distance.
Passengers can also visit the information kiosk in the terminal building, or take a short five-minute walk to the V&A Waterfront Information Centre where they can access all transport and other sightseeing information.
Work on the second phase of the cruise terminal is well underway and on track for completion by the end of 2017, just in time for the new cruise liner season.
“With a great deal of care and attention, we are investing to help create experiences that cruise visitors to the city of Cape Town will want to come back to,” adds Green.