We've just returned from this cruise to Durban. Some of the places we visited were very different from the normal cruising destinations and were enjoyable as a result. Great if you like sea days too (a few too many for our liking - hence the 4 and not a 5* review). We visited Oporto, Madeira & Tenerife which were as one would expect from Europe, lovely. The Cape Verde islands were interesting but a contrast to Europe, underdeveloped and really not geared up for tourism, therefore interesting but with not much to see or do. We then visited St. Helena, what a treat as not many people get to go here! A charming little island but again not a tourist destination. However, the island appears very safe and friendly. Next we made two stops in Namibia, Walvis Bay & Luderitz. We did a ship's excursion in Walvis Bay as we weren't sure what tourist opportunities would be available. We really enjoyed visiting Dune 7, the desert for the Welwichia plants and the town of Swarkopmund, which incidentally was very lovely. In Ludertiz we simply toured the town ourselves. Such a shame that since diamond mining has moved off shore, the town is in rapid decline, although homes from a bygone age can still be seen and in some cases visited inside. Possibly the highlight of the trip was Cape Town and all that this involves. We then visited Port Elizabeth which was decidedly a sad sort of place with not a lot to do outside of game drives. We concluded with a brief visit to Durban which looked okay, with standards somewhere between Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. We really enjoyed the trip but we happy to be disembarking and not going full circle, although doing the second part could possibly be on another agenda for the future.
What we expected - a reasonable size with en suite facilities which were very adequate with basic toiletries (no conditioner or body lotions) but a plentiful supply of towels for bathroom and beach. Plenty of wardrobe space and a nice dressing table with mirror and light over it and of course a comfy chair to sit. Tea/coffee making facilities were a welcome bonus. We kept the room as two singles for space but I guess it could have been converted into a double. The cabin was clean and comfortable with a fairly new carpet. The beds were very confortable with nice bedding. The stewardess was charming, friendly and kept the room immaculate 2x per day.
The embarkation process was fairly painless, although it does frustrate us at the elitist was cruise companies choose to take passengers on board in Southampton, i.e. most expensive to least!
Leixoes is a pleasant but provincial town on the coast of Portugal. Had the weather been kind I've no doubt we would have enjoyed the town a lot more, especially after two days at sea crossing the Bay of Biscay! Unfortunately, it rained heavily during the morning and by the time we were due to leave the weather was only just fairing up. However, we visited the local shops and had a very pleasant coffee and cake on the main street. Oporto is some way from Leixoes and easily accessible by Metro but since our time was limited and we'd been before we didn't go there.
We really like Madeira and have been before so we didn't do an excursion. The main town is easily accessible from the cruise terminal by a few minutes walk but sadly our ship was at the furthest possible point so anyone with walking issues would need to use the shuttle buses. Funchal has lots of shops, cafes and restaurants, the cable car to the beautiful gardens on the mountain top. You can easily amuse yourself here.
Loved Cape Town, too much to see and do, even though we were here for three days! We used the Hop on Hop off buses again - great value if you buy two days worth, four bus routes, free walking tours, free harbour 'cruise', and a sunset trip to Signal hill - Great! Don't pay for excursions it's not necessary, the bus routes cover everywhere you want to go - Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch, City sites, vineyards, beaches. Only one negative all the routes are one way only, so plan your day carefully or you could end up doing a 40 minute journey for one or two stops which were 5 mins apart. Table Mountain is a must, although the cable car is quite scary - it rotates and has open sections (the car isn't totally enclosed). However, the top is worth the pain as the views are incredible and you may also see Rock Hyraxes (Dassies). There is a cafe on top too and you can walk around for as long as you like. Don't go up if it's cloudy at the base - no point you won't see anything and do buy the tickets in advance, either on-line or on the bus in order to skip the long queues at the ticket desk. If you like nature and flowers, a visit to Kirstenbosch is really worth it. We could have spent all day there but we would suggest a minumum of 2 hours there. Do also hire a taxi and go to Cape Point - a good guy will take you to Boulders Beach (penguins), Cape Point funicular, Cape of Good Hope and Chapman's Peak - cost about £100 per taxi for the day, so if there's 4 of you it's a fantastic buy compared to ship's excursions. Do try to visit Cape Town!
In Santa Cruz we used the very reasonable and convenient Hop on Hop off buses. They are right outside the cruise terminal, although our berth was quite a little walk to the entrance - suggest shuttle bus for those who have walking difficulties. There was plenty to see and do here but note although museums were open to 5pm, last entrance is before 4.30pm.