Kenya’s cruise tourism has suffered a blow after luxury cruise ship, MS Albatros, called off its scheduled trip to Mombasa.
Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) Principal Corporate Communications Officer, Haji Masemo, said the cruise ship had been scheduled to arrive at the port of Mombasa on November 3 (Friday).
“We got information from the ship agent that MS Albatros had withdrawn its scheduled trip to Mombasa. No reasons were given for the cancellation,” the KPA official explained.
He noted that MS Albatros was the only cruise ship which had been booked to visit Mombasa this month.
“Normally, the cruise tourism season begins in November and ends in March, the following year. Currently, we don’t have any cruise ship bookings for this season,” he added.
Seafarers Assistance, Programme Coordinator, Andrew Mwangura, said the cancellation of the luxury ship’s voyage to Mombasa was a blow to cruise tourism.
Mwangura attributed the withdrawal to the political standoff between National Super Alliance and Jubilee Party leaders over the October 26 repeat presidential election.
On Monday, the Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission declared President Uhuru Kenyatta, the winner of the presidential re-run, but National Super Alliance (Nasa) presidential candidate, Raila Odinga, rejected the results.
“The political heat does not go well with tourism. Since the August 8 disputed general election to date, the country has been hit by a political stand-off. As a result, the wrangles have affected business,” he said.
The Seafarers official warned that unless the political stand-off is addressed, cruise ships might replace Kenya with other African destinations.
“In early 2000, cruise ships used to bring 40 000 tourists to Mombasa per season. But following pirate attacks in Somali waters, the ships kept off. It is only from 2015 that the ships came back,” he recalled.
MS Albatros is operated by a Germany-based travel agency Phoenix Reisen. The luxury ship can carry up to 830 passengers.
MS Silver Cloud was the last cruise ship to visit Mombasa in March this year. Last season, two ships which made four trips brought a total of 2 958 visitors down from 10 ships which brought 6 000 tourists, the previous year.