There are almost as many cruises to Africa as there are worldwide ports to sail from. Whether you see one African port or 15 is dependent on how many nights you want to sail, which translates, of course, into how much money you want to spend. Here’s a sampling of some of the hundreds of cruise lines and itineraries that include African cities in their ports of call.
1. South African “Cruises to Nowhere”
If your base is Africa and you don’t have much time to cruise, a trip that sails from either Cape Town or Durban — and back to the same port — may be ideal. MSC Cruises offers these “cruises to nowhere” on their small but stylish Italian ships, Sinfonia and Opera. Relax and enjoy the pool, golf simulator, entertainment and fine dining.
2. Short Hops from One South African Port to Another
In addition to its cruises to nowhere, MSC also offers short trips from Durban to Cape Town and back (you can also do this as a one-way cruise). This allows just enough time to enjoy attractions such as Durban’s Biology Museum, markets, and urban beaches — in addition to Cape Town’s V&A waterfront, botanical gardens, and hiking trails on Table Mountain.
3. South Africa to Madagascar and Back in 7 Nights
Most cruise lines offer a seven-night option, which is probably the most popular length for a cruise. Sailing out of (and back to) Durban, South Africa, the MSC Silfonia stops at Portuguese Island (Mozambique) and Ft. Dauphin (Madagascar), which both offer white, sandy beaches and lots of sunshine. Stroll through the markets, or, time permitting, hike one of Ft. Dauphin’s mountain trails.
4. South Africa to Las Palmas via West Africa
Silversea offers a fantastic one-way 18-day itinerary from South Africa to the Canary Islands (off the coast of Morocco) on its elegant ship, Silver Wind. Sailing from Cape Town, the ship heads north to Luderitz and Walvis Bay (Namibia), then to Takoradi (Ghana), Dakar (Senegal), Praia and Proto Novo (Cape Verde), and finally Las Palmas on Gran Canaria. The itinerary is also available in reverse.
5. Southeast Asia to Mauritius and South Africa
Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Serenity sails from Bangkok to Indonesia and Singapore before heading to Port Louis, Mauritius, where, if you’re lucky, you might see a horse race at Champs de Mars. It then sails to Durban and Port Elizabeth in South Africa before docking in Cape Town. The whole itinerary is 18 nights.
6. Florida to Spain via West Africa
The 27-night “Grand Africa and Mediterranean” cruise on Holland America’s Prinsendam starts in Fort Lauderdale (USA), and ends in Barcelona. This is a “re-positioning” cruise that stops at two ports in the Cape Verde Islands, plus Banjul (Gambia), Dakar (Senegal), and two ports in Morocco. Don’t miss the markets in Dakar for hand-carved wooden objects and colorful fabrics.
7. Cape Town to Singapore via East Africa
“Safaris, Temples and Jewels” is the name of Oceania Cruises’ once-per-year itinerary in which Nautica re-positions from Africa to southeast Asia over the course of 30 days. You set sail from Cape Town and hit the ports of Port Elizabeth, East London, Durban and Richards Bay in South Africa; Maputo in Mozambique; Nosy Be in Madagascar; Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar in Tanzania; Mombasa in Kenya; and Victoria in the Seychelles, before heading to various ports in the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore.
8. North Africa via Portugal, Spain, Italy and Malta
If North Africa is your intended destination there’s no better cruise line than Star Clippers. Their graceful full-sail clipper ships hold only 170 passengers and offer luxuries such as teak decks, multiple swimming pools, fireplaces and libraries.They offer a 10-day Mediterranean itinerary on the Star Clipper that starts in Lisbon and zig zags from Tangier (Morocco), to Motril (Spain), Mallorca, Menorca, La Goulette (Tunisia), Pantelleria (Italy), and Valetta (Malta).
9. Australia to South Africa
If you’ve got a lot of time on your hands and a bit of money to spare, Princess Cruises can take you from Sydney to Cape Town in 53 days. The Ocean Princess stops in several Australian ports after leaving the capital, then heads to Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, the Maldives, and Dubai before dropping anchor in the Seychelles, Mauritius, Reunion Island, Durban, East London and finally Cape Town. The cost of the “Australia, Asia & Africa Grand Adventure”? About US$10,000.
10. Singapore to England Via West and North Africa
In 2015, the Ocean Princess will offer an even grander itinerary: the 62-day “Asia and West Africa Adventure” starts in Singapore and sails all the way to Dover, England. In Asia it stops in Thailand, Myanmar, and India, then makes a port call in Dubai before heading to African ports in the Seychelles, Mauritius, South Africa, Namibia, Sao Tome, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Senegal, Cape Verde, and Morocco. As if that weren’t enough, it also manages to hit the Canary Islands, Spain, and France before finishing in the UK.
11. Hong Kong to Cape Town
Start in the far east in Hong Kong for this 35-day cruise with Africa Cruises which makes its way in a stately fashion via the Phillipines and Brunei to a stop in Mombasa, Kenya to explore the old town. Next stop is Dar es Salaam, where you are whisked off in a plane to a national park for a safari.
12. Perth to Capetown
Crystal Cruises offers a luxury trip from Perth, Australia via Mauritius, Reunion, Madagascar, with a quick stop in Maputo, Mozambique before finally arriving in South Africa. This multi-day cruise will cost around US$10,000.
13. West African Adventure
Princess Cruises offers a shorter 36-day itinerary which begins in Dover, UK before stopping off at many West African countries, including Togo, Ghana, Senegal, Benin, Cape Verde before wending its way to Southern Africa via Angola, Namibia and finally Cape Town in South Africa. A basic fare will be under US$9,000.
14. In the Footsteps of the Explorers
This 25-day cruise offered by Africa Cruises follows in the paths of the European explorers in the Age of Discovery. Starting in Lisbon, Portugal, the ship travels via the coast of West Africa, detailing the history during the voyage. The Canary Islands reveals its past history as an important station for the Spanish, while you learn about the grim history of the slave trade in Senegal, on the island of Goree. Abidjan, in Cote d’Ivoire, was once known as the Paris of West Africa while Luanda was once the Portuguese administration centre in Angola.
15. Cruise the Nile
For something a bit different, what about a genteel cruise up (or down) the River Nile in Egypt? Travel from Aswan to Luxor, and marvel at the historic sites while cruising in relaxed style. Various companies offer the ultimate stylish packages.