Kenya’s new Sh350 million world-class cruise ship terminal is ready to be commissioned, with the first ship expected to dock tomorrow ferrying high-end tourists.
The Kenya Port Authority (KPA) has confirmed arrival of the first cruise ship during the high season after vigorous marketing of Mombasa as a cruise ship destination.
KPA chairman Joseph Kibwana said MV Marco Polo will be the first ship to use the world class terminal.
The airport-like facility includes duty free shops, restaurants, conference facilities and offices for key stakeholders in the industry.
“It’s a beautiful terminal, it’s been built to international standards. Hopefully, the cruise ship terminal will encourage cruise tourism to this region of the Indian Ocean,” the KPA chairman told Shipping & Logistics.
Kenya is wooing cruise ship mega circuits including Seychelles, Mauritius, Zanzibar and South Africa for a partnership.
“We can become very interesting destinations for cruise ships. The Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife is working towards a cruise ship calendar. We have been to Miami to market Mombasa as a cruise ship destination,” Mr Kibwana said.
MV Marco Polo’s current cruise is 78 days. The itinerary started on January 5, and ends on March 23. It will dock in Mombasa from Zanzibar tomorrow and sail the following day before taking off to Mahe, Seychelles.
Kenya wants to increase its cruise ship sector to complement air connectivity which continues to be a major driver for growth of international arrivals.
MV Marco Polo is owned by Global Maritime and currently operated under charter by the UK-based travel company Cruise and Maritime Voyages. The cruise terminal is expected to directly create 300 jobs, and boost local industries such as the transport sector, hotels, food providers and curio sellers.
Bwanaheri Omar Lali, Inchcape Shipping Services operations manager, said the modern facility will position Kenya as a passenger destination through sea tourism.
The Port of Mombasa is one of the busiest facilities along the East African coastline providing direct connectivity to over 80 ports worldwide.
The works on cruise terminal, which began in December 2016, was expected to be completed in August 2017, but was pushed to 2018 then later to 2019 due to “unavoidable circumstances” with the government blaming the contractor for the delays.
Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has encouraged tour operators to start planning safaris for the cruise liner. “We have agreed with Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA) who are partners to put up a marketing strategy and coordinate but Kenya will take the lead to ensure all our neighbours improve their facilities,” Mr Balala said.