Cruise ships bring opportunities to Mossel Bay

Published on : Thursday, February 7, 2013

A visit by the Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines ship MS Black Watch brought welcome business to Mossel Bay when she docked in the Southern Cape town earlier this week.

“Cruise ships are important to our tourism economy for two reasons,” said Koos Schutte, who operates Amzee Bokmakiere Guesthouse and Bokmakierie Guesthouse Shuttle Services, and who also serves as a volunteer member of the board of Mossel Bay Tourism.

“There’s the obvious immediate benefit of hosting hundreds of people for the day, but there’s also the longer-term benefit of having shown off the destination to a large number of people who might come back again in the future.”

He said that he took six of the Black Watch’s passengers on an introductory tour of the town on Monday.

“We began at the Craft Art Workshop, and then we went to see some of our historic sandstone buildings, and also some of the places where the old stonemasons quarried their rock from the seashore.

“Then we went on to The Point; the Harry Giddey Park (where they said the tortoises were the biggest they’d ever seen); a viewpoint over the St Blaize Trail and the sea at Heiderand; the beach at Dana Bay; Hartenbos and the Voorbaai Steam Train Maintenance Yards (where they loved the old trains, and took hundreds of pictures); and we ended our tour at Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary.”

Tour operator Jauckie Viljoen, of Backroad Safaris, said that a number of the ship’s passengers wanted similar tours, and that he was also called at the last minute to do an introductory tour of Mossel Bay.

“We had eight guests – but we could have accommodated more if we had had a little more notice.

“This could be a lucrative market for local companies if we were given access to the passengers through the cruise directors,” he said.

Mossel Bay-based national tour guide Jorrie Jordaan said that ten luxury coaches were brought into the town to take passengers on visits to various places in the Garden Route and Klein Karoo.

“My wife, Erica, took a group to Botlierskop, and I guided 23 people on a ‘Seals and Seafarers’ tour of Mossel Bay, which included visits to Seal Island and the Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex.

“Five of my guests were repeat visitors to South Africa.”

He said, though, that the cruise line had had to bring additional guides in from Cape Town.

“I often work for the cruise ships, and the agents complained that they can’t find other local guides – so here’s an opportunity for qualified people: if they’ll contact me, I’ll be happy to pass their names onto the cruise companies.

“The operators would prefer to use local guides, and German-speaking guides are in demand.”

Mr. Jordaan said that more liners are expected on the 18th and 28th of this month.

The MS Black Watch – named for Scotland’s Black Watch Regiment, and with a Scottish theme to many of its public areas – was built in Finland, and was launched in 1972 by the wife of Thor Heyerdahl. (Mr. Heyerdahl sailed a self-built reed raft from Peru to the Tuamotu Islands in Polynesia in 1947. The famous Kon Tiki Expedition was designed to prove that ancient people could have connected with other cultures by making long sea voyages).

The ship was 177.7 metres long when she was launched, but she was extended by almost 28 metres when she was refitted in 1981. After a further refit in 2005, she now carries 820 passengers.

Mossel Bay Tourism’s Marcia Holm said that about 350 of the passengers on board came ashore on Monday, and that more than 150 of them came into Mossel Bay Tourism’s information office between the hours of 10:00 and 3:00.

“To accommodate such a large number of people is always a challenge, and we weren’t given much warning that the ship was going to call – but we think we managed to make everyone happy, and that we sent many of them off as true brand ambassadors for Mossel Bay,” she said.

Source:- Visit mossel bay

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