Settling down starboard side onto our yacht ahead of a sunset cruise leaving from Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront, I couldn’t help but think how different it would be to see the Mother City from the ocean at sunset, something I’d never personally done before.
Our yacht could hold about thirty people, but we were far less, and the welcoming crew all greeted us in unison as we made our way onto the vessel and picked out our seats. It was naturally obvious that when in Cape Town’s surrounding waters, it didn’t really matter too much where we chose to sit, the view would be great in any direction.
While the day had been blustery and a little cold, the thin streaks of clouds above indicated good weather for smooth waters and the deepening yellow hue of the light as we neared the time for sunset promised the chance of spectacular sunset photos, while balancing my glass of bubbles in the other hand of course!
Our captain introduced himself and the crew, told us to settle in and passed out glasses of a uniquely South African Methode Cap Classique. While local wine farms are not allowed to introduce their own bubblies as champagne, you can be assured that the quality of South African MCC’s are well worth it in terms of both depth in flavour and variety. They also happen to be the perfect accompaniment to a sunset cruise out of the harbour (as well as any other special occasion you choose to celebrate while in South Africa).
With the sun on our backs and Table Mountain ahead of us, our yacht began to slowly turn as we looped through the harbour and towards the open sea, away from the V&A Waterfront. Cape Town’s harbour is fairly large and is situated in Table Bay, named after the mountain it lies at the foot of. This busy port is the second largest in South Africa after Durban and working tugs, ocean liners and container ships are alive with activity, filtering in and out of the harbour mouth throughout the day. A last rush of boats at the day’s end make for a good spectator sport while you wait on the dock.
The natural mouth of Cape Town’s harbour opens onto the Atlantic Ocean, and sunset champagne cruises offer a variety of routes to choose from depending on how much time you may have and what your interests are. Our cruise was just under two hours and aimed to show off the beauty of Table Bay, the hulking mountain and it’s pink cotton candy clouds, and the stretch of coast to the west of the harbour including the iconic Cape Town Stadium.
On board, we had to bundle up as the sun began to set below the horizon of the Atlantic. While it wasn’t quite winter in Cape Town, the cold air rising off the ocean and the breeze blowing over the hull brought an icy chill. The crew kept us entertained with light conversation, plenty of bubbly and a light snack platter. The more adventurous on board edged their way up to the pulpit to hang their legs over the side and feel the light splash of the sea, while we occasionally ducked down to avoid the swinging sail set to take best advantage of the wind.
Seeing the sunset mirrored on the flank of Table Mountain was the highlight of this cruise for me. I’d experienced sunset from atop the mountain the day before and to see from the opposite side the day after was quite surreal. The cruise was very social, with other travellers on board making conversation about what they had experienced in the city during their stay and even as a South African who is fairly familiar with the city, I picked up some suggestions on where to head for dinner afterwards.
Our sunset champagne cruise was operated conveniently right out of the V&A Waterfront in front of some of the harbour’s best restaurants by Waterfront Charters. The sunset champagne cruise is by far their most popular option, but can also be paired up with a dining experience at one of the surrounding eateries nearby for a dinner, after working up an appetite from all that sea air.
While we didn’t choose this option at the time, sunset cruises can include a meal at Meloncino, the Greek Fishermen or City Grill Steakhouse. All three restaurants are popular at the waterfront and great spots for taking a seat after and watching the harbour transition into its quieter evening hours, while the lights come on along the port’s outcrops.
The champagne cruise with Waterfront Charters is an open cruise, bookings are however required, that departs daily from the V&A Waterfront at 19h00 during the summer months. Cruise are weather dependent, and leave earlier in the winter months.
Travellers looking for a little more exclusivity do have options when it comes to yacht trips out of Cape Town’s harbour. Private vessels can be hired for longer trips, while a full dining experience is also very possible with a little planning ahead of time. Bigger vessels can be hired for larger groups, even allowing for special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries.
Tigger2Charters offer an extra special wedding experience for travellers looking to host an intimate, special wedding on board a private yacht. To cruise the cosmopolitan coastal rout of Clifton Beach, the Clifton Experience offered by Sport Motor Yachts, will offer a three-hour scenic cruise for just twelve people including snacks and champagne.
If you’re happier on water than on land, spending the night on a yacht is also an option, with yachts docking along the coast of Cape Town in various small ports. This option is available on the Sea Princess, a private yacht available from the exceptional Mantis Collection.
Most yacht cruise depart from the V&A Waterfront and are an excellent way to end of a day of shopping and dining in this popular hub in Cape Town, just remember to pack a warm jacket and a scarf!