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Durban, South Africa, 23 November 2023 - The $16 million Nelson Mandela Cruise Terminal in South Africa’s main port of Durban has been officially inaugurated by the country’s President Cyril Ramaphosa ahead of the start of South Africa’s 2023-24 cruise season.

The building was devised and funded by MSC Cruises and its black economic empowerment partner African Armada Consortium and together with Transnet National Ports Authority created the first public-private partnership in South Africa’s cruise industry.  The venture called KwaZulu Cruise Terminal Limited operates the new facility.     

The 6,000 square metre energy-efficient cruise terminal has the capacity to handle 4,000 passengers a day. The project created 10,000 construction jobs that were primarily sourced locally in Durban and the rest of South Africa.   

Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises and Chairman of KwaZulu Cruise Terminal attended the event together with President Cyril Ramaphosa, His Majesty King Misuzulu kaZwelithini, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, government ministers, port officials and leaders from South Africa’s main travel agencies.

Mr Vago said, “Nelson Mandela was an incredible statesman and leader who continues to inspire progress around the world and we are honoured that the Nelson Mandela Foundation allowed us to use his name for what is the gateway to the Zulu Kingdom.

“MSC Cruises arrived in South Africa in the early 1990s and since then, thousands of cruise guests have discovered the beauty of the KwaZulu-Natal Province and beyond.  The new Nelson Mandela Cruise Terminal in Durban will give access to passengers from more than 100 nationalities and they will enjoy the unique experience we offer on board and visits to the beautiful destinations we have developed at Portugeuse Island and Pomene in Mozambique.

“It has been 10 years since the public-private partnership was initially conceived, the first of its kind for the east coast of South Africa.  We were given the privilege together with our black empowerment partner to create new infrastructure that supports the expansion of the South African cruise tourism and the new terminal will be welcomed by all cruise companies from around the world.”        

MSC Cruises’ parent MSC Group is the world’s largest container shipping company that has operated in South Africa for more than 50 years and the organisation has grown to become the biggest shipping agency and largest shipping investor in South Africa.  More than one million MSC containers pass through South African ports each year through 750 ship calls.

MSC Group set up the Shosholoza Academy in 2019 in South Africa to educate young people and train them in hospitality skills used on board MSC Cruises’ fleet of 22 ships.  The academy will see 5,000 new crew members join MSC Cruises’ vessels in the weeks and months ahead.

An international customer call centre in Johannesburg serves MSC Cruises and its luxury cruise sister company Explora Journeys for passengers in South Africa, the USA and the UK with future growth plans to service other global markets.    

Ross Volk, Managing Director, MSC Cruises South Africa, said, “We are fully committed to help drive the country’s tourism industry and create employment opportunities along the way which has and will continue to have a positive economic impact on the nation.  This will be typified later this week with the start of the local cruise season and the arrival of MSC Splendida, MSC Cruises’ largest and most modern ship to serve the South African market.