The gracious cruise liner MSC Melody returns to Cape Town on Saturday 26 February for a second mini-season of just three cruises out of the mother city, before saying “arrivederci” to South Africa and heading north again to Italy.
The ship, much loved by local cruising enthusiasts for her 'olde worlde' grace and style, is currently cruising the Indian Ocean islands. She departs Durban for Cape Town on 23 February.
Cruise enthusiasts can opt for a fun and festive two-night Atlantic Ocean “cruise to nowhere” out of Cape Town and back from 26 – 28 Feb, a four-night cruise to Walvis Bay from 28 Feb – 4 March, where the accent will be on the region's rich bird and marine life; and a unique three-night cruise to Mossel Bay from 4 – 7 March, with a choice of fascinating Garden Route excursions.
And, of course, passengers arriving and departing Cape Town will be enthralled by the simply magnificent views of Table Mountain and the Cape Peninsula mountains from the sea – a treat in itself, even if you live in the area.
“These three short very special cruises represent a rare opportunity to cruise out of Cape Town. They are just long enough to totally relax and unwind in a fun environment of sheer escapism: an endless range of non-stop onboard entertainment, shopping and spa treatments, delicious meals and unique excursions,” says Allan Foggitt, marketing director of MSC Starlight Cruises.
The two-night “cruise to nowhere” out of Cape Town is the ultimate way to be transported into a whole new world of life on the ocean, where laughter and new friendships are sure to be part of the package. With capacity of just 1 500 passengers, MSC Melody is big enough to do your own thing but small enough to quickly get to know like-minded folk.
Booking is already heavy for the four-night west coast Walvis Bay cruise led by renowned birding expert Ian Sinclair. It is the last of the three Walvis Bay cruises, which have proved so popular this summer when passengers have been spellbound by the rich bird and marine life off the famed Diamond and Skeleton coasts.
The author of 25 books and a highly entertaining lecturer with the gift of the gab, Sinclair hosts sunrise whale watching and birding sessions out on deck followed by a lecture later in the day.
In Walvis Bay, passengers can visit the local museum, the Birdlife information centre and huge natural lagoon, where over 120 000 birds were recently counted, including large flocks of flamingos and pelicans, which are joined annually by 200 000 migratory birds that fly south for the summer.
Other options include a visit to the nearby holiday resort of Swakopmund, famed for its German restaurants, coffee and cakes and excursions into the desert.
The Mossel Bay cruise departing Cape Town on Friday 4 March gives passengers the rare treat of sailing past Cape Point, where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, as well as Cape Agulhas, Africa's most southerly tip - both spectacular landmarks that led early explorers to declare the region the “Fairest Cape of them all”.
[EMBEDDED]Weather permitting, excursion highlights of the Mossel Bay cruise include the Tsitsikama Forest Canopy adventure, dune sand boarding, a quad bike safari, a predator walk as well as game viewing by 4x4 at a safari lodge.
Passengers can also opt to spend a lazy day on board ship, on the beach or enjoying the many natural, cultural and historical features of this seaside resort made famous by Portuguese navigator Bartolomeu Dias, who landed there in 1487. A must visit is the Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex, which features the 500-year-old Post Office Tree used by passing ships, a life size replica of the Dias Caravel, a Shell Museum, an Aquarium and an Ethno-Botanical garden.
MSC Melody is the smallest ship in the MSC Cruises' fleet and is both welcoming and intimate. It offers high standards of Italian style and sophistication in a relaxed and informal environment and for many guests the ship is the destination itself.
The public areas are spacious and well appointed and especially attractive to families as she is one of the few cruise liners that have five-bed cabins available.
Another special feature is the ship's retractable, transparent Magrodome, which allows guests to enjoy one of the two swimming pools and whirlpools, even if the skies cloud over.
Entertainment and activities cater for all interests and age groups. There are deck quoits, shuffleboard, table tennis or volleyball games to play on deck or simply a comfortable chair or lounger to relax in and watch the waves go by. A gymnasium, aerobics classes, dance lessons, bridge and other card game competitions, irresistible duty-free shopping and even a crèche to leave the kids in while enjoying a short siesta; a session in the MSC Aurea SPA; or a movie in the ship's cinema or the comfort of your own air-conditioned cabin.
Night time entertainment includes a floorshow, cabaret artists, comedians, dancers, magicians and three bands performing every night at sea. The casino offers blackjack, roulette and slot machines and the disco will have you dancing until the early hours.
MSC Melody says 'arrivederci' to South Africa on 7 March when she departs Cape Town on an 18-night north bound cruise to Genoa, Italy. She will cruise the Mediterranean during the European summer months and return to South Africa again at the end of the year for the 2011/2012 season.
Visit: http://www.msccruises.com or http://www.starlight.co.za for more information on both MSC Sinfonia and MSC Melody for the 2010/11 SA season. Like us on Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/mscstarlight