Cruise ship with at least 300 visitors docks at Mombasa Port

A cruise ship dubbed MS Insignia carrying at least 300 tourists onboard braved bad weather in the Indian Ocean to dock at the Port of Mombasa.

The manager of the vessel with 357 passengers and 396 crew members Laurence Badasse said the vessel is not full as some passengers had disembarked in Dubai.

The vessel was supposed to go through the Suez Canal but rerouted to Africa because of the security crisis in the Red Sea and vessels were forced to go through the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa to reach Europe.

“The itinerary changed back in February dictating that we go through Africa to reach Europe as the Suez Canal is not safe therefore some of our guests were given the option to go home if they didn’t want the new itinerary. Normally, we will be sailing with 608 guests,� said Badasse.

According to the Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD), Ialy intensified to the Tropical Cyclone stage on Tuesday and is expected to dissipate by Wednesday.

It will remain offshore despite passing within 150 km of the Kenyan coast. Vessels calling at the Port of Mombasa have not been affected by the storm.

“We so much wanted to come to Kenya that we braved the storm that travelled between Madagascar and the Kenyan coast. We had two rough sea days before reached Kenya. We are glad we made it on time and safe,� she added.

The next stop for the vessel is Zanzibar, before heading to Mozambique and the final call in Cape Town before heading back to Europe.

Kenya Tourism Board Chief Executive Officer (CEO) June Chepkemei said they are pleased to see the rebound of cruise tourism after the COVID-19 pandemic that disrupted the sector.

In a bid to make Kenya a hub for cruise tourism, Chepkemei stated that they will work closely with the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) to ensure the sector fully recover akin to the year 2000 when more than 19000 cruise tourists visited the country.

“We will continue to work together with the players to ensure the coastal part of the country benefits from cruise tourism,� said Chepkemei.

“The team that arrived this morning has managed to experience Kenya. They have gone on safari, they are experiencing the Swahili culture and the magical experience of the country,� she added.

On his part, KPA Managing Director William Ruto said they are happy to see the cruise tourism that the country has been yearning to pick up.

“This is not the first vessel that has called here and it’s not the last,� Capt. Ruto encouraged the vessel company to make the Port of Mombasa their home port and to stay longer on their next visit.

The Ruto urged investors to invest in cruise tourism at the port as the government has invested in the construction of the new cruise terminal.

He assured tourists docking at the Port of Mombasa of heightened security around the port and the city of Mombasa. “The government is doing everything to ensure all the tourists that have gone for excursions are safe wherever they have gone.�

Tourists aboard the vessels expressed their delight in visiting the country albeit it was not in the initial itinerary.

“We are happy to be in Kenya especially Mombasa I have never been here. We want to see how beautiful is and all the tourist attractions. The last couple of days in the sea have been a little rough because of the storm that came here. I am sure you felt it,� said Peterson Friesen from Canada.

Kyle Stewart from the United States of America said they didn’t expect to go around Africa but “It was delightful I never expected it in my life. I probably wouldn’t have had this opportunity if this had not happened. At first, I was disappointed but now it’s positive.�

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