What to look forward to in Southern Africa if your cruise is diverted

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town's vibrant V&A Waterfront is full of surprises (Photo: Sharon Waugh)

Cape Town’s vibrant V&A Waterfront is full of surprises (Photo: Sharon Waugh)

Cape Town is a vibrant city and easily one of the best cruise ports in the world, thanks to its proximity to many world-class tourist attractions. Located at the foot of Table Mountain, it is home to an enormous amount of natural beauty (much of it is protected as part of the Table Mountain National Park).

South Africa is known as the Rainbow Nation because it is a highly multicultural country, and Cape Town reflects that with a rich cultural heritage shaped by colonialism, apartheid and Nelson Mandela’s legacy of peace and reconciliation.

The V&A Waterfront, one of the most visited tourist attractions on the African continent, is within walking distance of the cruise port. It is not only a shopping and entertainment center, but also a gateway to a huge plethora of tours and experiences. It is also from here that boat trips take visitors to Robben Island to see where Nelson Mandela spent much of his 27 years in prison.

Because there is so much to do, it is common for cruise ships to spend the night here. Popular excursions include day trips to the scenic winelands surrounding the city. Culturally immersive tours take people to neighborhoods such as Bo-Kaap with its brightly colored buildings and rich Cape Malay history, or townships such as Langa and Khayelitsha.

A visit to the African Penguin Colony at Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town allows visitors to see endangered African penguins up close. For those seeking fantastic ocean views from a scenic cliff top and encounters with baboons, zebras, ostriches, bucks and other wildlife, Cape Point is a popular attraction.

Alternatively, the Table Mountain Cable Car, which takes visitors to Cape Town’s iconic Table Mountain, is always a hit (depending on the weather) for fantastic views of the city, ocean and nature.