the changing era of cruising



“Africa’s most modern marine terminal” was the 1961 title of the Durban Ocean Terminal Construction in the September / October 1961 issue of Trade Links, a newsletter covering industrial and commercial news from the province to the era.

And while the opening of Durban’s new 200 million rand cruise passenger terminal from Durban to Point is imminent, in the 1960s, the new marine passenger terminal and fruit pre-chill store were underway. completion at an estimated amount of Rand 5 million.

Due to be completed in March 1962, it has been described as “the most revolutionary government building in this country” and “the most modern in Africa”.

The new cruise terminal in The Point, Durban. Photo: Shelley Kjonstad / African News Agency (ANA)
An aerial view of part of the T-Jetty showing the layout of the R5 million passenger terminal nearing completion in 1961. Photo: Trade Links September / October 1961 issue

The building consisted of a terminal for passengers, embarking or disembarking ships and which would “pass through a modern hall, one of a kind in Africa”, as well as a spacious lounge and restaurant, an eight-story building block administrative office which would house the port office and various other departments.

Under the terminal and administrative block were extensive pre-cooling sheds for food and perishables. It was designed by MS Zakrzewski & Partners, the main contractors being Roberts Construction Company and Consolidated Aluminum Industries Ltd.

The site, which changed the look of the T-Jetty – previously used for ships under repair, also featured a concrete expanse designed as a helipad.

In March 1962, the Daily News headline described the new marine terminal as “the epitome of new ideas”, describing it as “the most modern in the world”.

Construction details in various publications detailed: “Approximately 7,000 miles of steel reinforcement, weighing 5,500 tons enough to extend from Cape Town to London and beyond were used in the construction of the Durban Ocean Terminal. . Excavation above the waterline amounted to approximately 32,000 cubic yards and 4000 cubic yards of concrete was required. A total of 12,000 cubic meters of bricks were used.

It had 54 cooling tunnels with a capacity of over 4,000 tonnes of food.

The terminal’s finishes included colorful mosaics, as well as metal carvings and marble coverings, with a post saying: “Lovers of modern art and architecture will find the marine terminal a place of interest, because in its design are incorporated many unusual works of art. “

Traveling by boat was the most popular way to travel abroad in the 1950s and 1960s, but with the growing popularity of air travel, as well as the rising costs of fuel and containerization, the era of great mail has ended. After all, two jumbo jets could carry all the passengers on the same ship in 11 hours, not 11 days.

According to a story from Brian Ingpen’s IOL, the first postal ship, the Union Steamship Company Danem, arrived in Cape Town in October 1857, after a 44-day voyage from Britain. So began a new courier service between the UK and South Africa that will last 120 years.

In 1900 Union and Castle Lines merged to form the Union-Castle Mail Steamship Company which became a household name in South Africa.

Huge mailings would arrive every week, with many businesses relying on punctuality of service and letters and packages filling vans at post offices across the country.

A postal boat trip overseas normally involved a two week trip across the sea, so leave from work at that time was normally a six or eight week period to allow sufficient travel time.

As Ingpen writes, the trip was a holiday in itself: “Even for those in cabin class, the menus heralded elaborate and delicious meals that were brought to the table in silver platters and served with traditional courtesy. Lounging on the deck by day with dancing and evening entertainment, traveling was much more relaxing in bygone days.

Back to the future and the new cruise terminal, a joint venture run by MSC Cruises SA, is expected to open to cruise ships at the start of the 2021/22 season.

MSC Cruise SA director Ross Volk confirmed this week that the terminal will open “once the sailing routes have been agreed upon by the various cruise ships that will use the new facility”.

“We are absolutely delighted that the new measures for tourism allow cruise ships to operate in accordance with national health protocols and we now look forward to government guidance for the resumption of cruises for South African vacationers,” Volk said. .

“We are working with different government agencies and we hope to make an announcement soon on our navigation program for 2021/22. Durban’s new passenger terminal will dramatically increase the number of tourists and make the city an even more popular destination for cruise ships from around the world.

When the deal for the new cruise terminal was signed in 2018, TNPA said the global cruise industry was worth $ 126 billion annually, with 24.7 million passengers carried in 2017.

The Covid pandemic abruptly halted cruise travel last year, but as blockages lift across the world, the luxury of cruising is back on the cards.

The independent on Saturday


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