Madiba cruise terminal to position Durban as premier cruise site, says President Cyril Ramaphosa

The MSC Splendida docked at the Nelson Mandela Cruise Terminal in Durban on Wednesday evening during the inauguration event attended by President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Jehran Naidoo

The MSC Splendida docked at the Nelson Mandela Cruise Terminal in Durban on Wednesday evening during the inauguration event attended by President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Jehran Naidoo

Published Nov 23, 2023


The Nelson Mandela Cruise Terminal on Point Road in Durban is a vital step forward in positioning the eThekwini Municipality as a premier cruise destination that is among the best in the world, according to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“The launch of the Nelson Mandela MSC Cruise Terminal is more than a milestone,” Ramaphosa said on Wednesday night.

Ramaphosa was speaking at the official opening of the terminal, which was previously called the KwaZulu-Natal Cruise Terminal but later renamed.

“It is an important step towards restoring the position of this city as a premier cruise tourism destination, alongside the finest in the world,” he said.

“The global cruise tourism market is worth an estimated $174 billion (around R3.27 trillion) and alongside the City of Cape Town, Durban is perfectly placed as a destination of choice for cruise ships.”

The new terminal was a project led by MSC Cruises and the African Armada Consortium after they won the bid to design, build and operate the new facility in Durban’s harbour in conjunction with Transnet National Port Authorities (TNPA).

MSC was granted a thirty year concession period for the facility.

Public Enterprises Minister, Pravin Gordhan; Transport Minister, Sindisiwe Chikunga; KZN Premier, Nomusa Dube-Ncube; Durban Mayor, Mxolisi Kaunda; and South African activist and film maker Anant Singh attended the opening.

Ramaphosa also joked about Durban being a better destination for cruises.

President Cyril Ramaphosa during his keynote address on Wednesday evening at the Nelson Mandela Cruise Terminal in Durban. Picture: Supplied.

He said that the travel industry had seen a boom and there was potential with the cruise terminal.

“Last year was a boon for the local cruise tourism industry. The concession period was aligned to the capital investment to be made by the terminal operator. The total investment value amounts to R298 million for the terminal,” Ramaphosa said.

“The strategic goal is to offer new and modern cruise terminals that are a gateway to the ports of Durban and Cape Town, to the rest of the country and even to the continent.”

The President touched on the success of the Cape Town Cruise terminal since its opening and how it managed to rake in R1.2 billion during the latest cruise season and wanted Durban top replicate that success.

Ramaphosa said the launch of the new terminal was part “of a wide plan” to develop the port, which has been struggling to cope with traffic out at sea in recent months, causing major delays for businesses in the supply chain.

The Point precinct in Durban was a site to behold on Wednesday evening, as sunset hues cast a beautiful light over the MSC Splendida during the inauguration of the Nelson Mandela Cruise Terminal. Picture: Jehran Naidoo

While the President gave his keynote address, the MSC Splendida docked behind him overshadowing the Durban skyline, decks and cabins filled as the City prepared to welcome its incumbent.

Head of MSC Cruises South Africa Ross Volk told IOL it was a pleasure and honour for the company to be using the name of late former president Nelson Mandela.

MSC also had to get naming rights from the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

He said the opening was years in the making.

“In 2017 we were awarded the contracted and finally broke ground in 2019. It took us two years to build this facility we’re in today. We actually opened it in December 2021 but it was a soft opening because of Covid,” Volk said.

He said that the MSC Splendida had around 2,500 passengers.

“They have chosen to come on the ship to Durban for a reason. There was a huge welcoming for the ship today with thousands of people,” Volk said.

“So I think South Africa is an incredible place and tourist spot and we should learn to be more positive about the country.”