African Cruises

African Cruises: Discover the Wild Side of the Continent

by Christian Petzold - updated November 6, 2023

Discover the thrill of an African cruise, offering a blend of vibrant cultures, breathtaking landscapes, and exotic wildlife. Immerse yourself in the lively Moroccan markets or the Tanzanian savannas, with various cruise lines providing diverse itineraries to suit every interest.

Highlights include Cape Town, Casablanca, and Mombasa, where you can encounter majestic wildlife, explore ancient sites, indulge in local flavors, and shop for one-of-a-kind treasures. Experience the unforgettable adventure of an African cruise.

Why Choose African Cruises?

An African cruise is an excellent choice if you’re searching for a unique and exciting travel experience. With its diverse landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture, Africa has so much to offer travelers. Here are just a few reasons you should consider an African cruise for your next adventure:

1. Unique Destinations

One of the biggest draws of an African cruise is the opportunity to visit some truly unique and breathtaking destinations. From the stunning beaches of Cape Town to the bustling markets of Marrakech, there’s no shortage of unique places to explore. Some of the top destinations you might visit on an African cruise include:

Each destination offers something different and unforgettable, from incredible wildlife sightings to stunning natural wonders. And because you’ll be traveling by sea, you’ll have the bonus of experiencing these destinations from a unique perspective.

2. Cultural Experiences

Another great reason to choose an African cruise is the opportunity to absorb yourself in the local cultures and traditions. Africa is home to a rich and diverse array of cultures with unique customs and traditions. Some of the cultural experiences you might enjoy on an African cruise include:

  • Visiting traditional villages and meeting local people
  • Sampling local cuisine and regional specialties
  • Exploring historical landmarks and museums
  • Attending cultural festivals and events

Whether you’re interested in learning about the history of ancient Egypt or experiencing the vibrant music and dance of West Africa, there are plenty of opportunities to engage with local cultures and traditions on an African cruise.

luxurious staterooms with balconies

Discover Coastal Africa: Beyond Safaris and Sunsets

Planning Your Ideal African Cruises

The captivating charm of Africa is undeniable. With every African cruise, there lies an opportunity to delve deep into its myriad of landscapes, from vast savannahs to rugged coasts. Whether you’re eyeing a 5-day journey or envisioning a more extended 7-day adventure, each trip promises moments that will be etched in memory forever. Tailoring your African cruises is now easier than ever. Sort by departure date, location, or price. Delve deeper by filtering through cabin types, cruise lines, or even specific ships to ensure your experience matches your dreams.

Noteworthy Ports: Port Elizabeth to Richards Bay

African cruises offer the unique chance to dock at some iconic ports. Gqeberha, formerly known as Port Elizabeth, offers proximity to the Addo Elephant Park, where a game drive promises encounters with nature’s giants.

Further along, Durban and Richards Bay unfurl a rich tapestry of cultures. With influences from the Zulu, Indian, and British histories, these ports teem with stories waiting to be discovered before you continue the journey back to Cape Town.

The Allure of Deserts and Shores

While African cruises are often synonymous with wildlife, the continent’s 18,950 miles of coastline have their own tales to tell. From bustling cities to the untouched islands and the expansive desert landscapes of the Western Sahara, there’s an experience awaiting every kind of traveler.

The Many Charms of Cape Town

Cape Town, a regular stop on many African cruises, is a city of contrasts. The bustling Waterfront stands as the lifeblood of Cape Town’s harbor, while Boulder Beach offers serene moments with playful African penguins. And for those who seek the finer things, the vineyards of Cape Winelands are a sip of heaven.

Crafting Your African Cruise Vacation

When contemplating an Africa cruise vacation, the itinerary holds the key. Routes that meander down the Chobe River in Botswana promise thrilling encounters with the kings of the jungle, while others take you to the tranquil beaches of Dakar, Senegal. With expert platforms like Expedia on your side, crafting your ideal African cruise becomes a delightful endeavor.

African Cruises: A Voyage of Discovery

With their increasing popularity, African cruises have found favor among leading cruise lines. Giants like Norwegian Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, and Holland America, among others, now offer journeys that promise the very essence of Africa. Whether you’re savoring the wines of South Africa or watching the sunset over the Kenyan plains, African cruises deliver experiences that remain unparalleled.

Types of African Cruises

If you’re planning to go on an African cruise, you’ll have a variety of options to choose from. Here are some of the most popular types of African cruises:

Safari Cruises

One of the most popular types of African cruises is the safari cruise. These cruises take you on a wildlife adventure through some of Africa’s most famous national parks and reserves. On a safari cruise, you’ll have the opportunity to see lions, elephants, giraffes, zebras, and many other animals in their natural habitats.

Some of the most popular destinations for safari cruises include South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, and Botswana. Many safari cruises include land-based excursions, such as game drives, guided walks, and time spent on the ship.

River Cruises

River cruises are another popular way to explore Africa. These cruises take you down some of Africa’s most famous rivers, such as the Nile, Zambezi, and Chobe. On a river cruise, you’ll have the opportunity to see various wildlife and experience the local culture and history.

Some river cruises also include land-based excursions to nearby villages and towns. These excursions allow you to learn about the local culture and traditions and sample the local cuisine.

Coastal Cruises

A coastal cruise might be the way to go if you’re looking for a more relaxed African cruise experience. These cruises take you along the coast of Africa, stopping at various ports. On a coastal cruise, you’ll have the opportunity to explore some of Africa’s most famous cities, such as Cape Town, Durban, and Casablanca.

Many coastal cruises also include excursions to nearby beaches and other attractions. These excursions allow you to relax, enjoy the beautiful scenery, and experience the local culture and cuisine.

What to Expect on an African Cruise

Going on an African cruise is an adventure of a lifetime. With so much to see and experience, it can be hard to know what to expect. Here are a few things you can anticipate on your African cruise:

Wildlife Sightings

One of the main reasons people choose to go on an African cruise is to see the incredible wildlife. From elephants to lions, giraffes to zebras, the animals you’ll see on your cruise will leave you in awe. Some of the best places to see wildlife on your African cruise are the national parks and reserves in Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa. Bring your camera and binoculars to capture every moment of your safari excursions.

Africa Zoo 1

Luxury Accommodations

Regarding accommodations on an African cruise, you can expect nothing but the best. Many cruise lines offer luxurious staterooms with balconies that provide stunning views of the African landscape. You’ll also have access to world-class amenities like spas, pools, and fine dining restaurants. Some cruise lines even offer private game reserves for guests to experience the wildlife up close and personal.

Expert Guides

One of the best things about going on an African cruise is the knowledgeable guides who will be with you every step of the way. From game drives to cultural excursions, your guides will be able to provide you with a wealth of information about the places you visit and the wildlife you see. They’ll also be able to answer any questions you have and ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable experience.


Cultural Immersion

While wildlife sightings are a big draw for African cruises, there are plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in the local culture. From visiting traditional villages to learning about the region’s history, you’ll have the chance to learn about the people and places that make Africa so unique. Take advantage of the cultural excursions your cruise line offers to get the most out of your experience.

africa tour

Planning Your African Cruise

When to Go

When planning your African cruise, it’s essential to consider the weather and peak travel seasons. The best time to go on an African cruise varies depending on the region you want to visit.

If you’re interested in a safari, the best time to go is during the dry season, typically from June to October. This is when the animals are easier to spot as they gather around water sources. If you want to check the Great Migration in Tanzania and Kenya, the best time to go is from July to September.

If you’re interested in visiting the Indian Ocean islands, the best time to go is from May to October, when the weather is dry and sunny. If you’re interested in visiting West Africa, the best time to go is from November to March, when the weather is cooler and drier.

Choosing a Cruise Line for African Cruises

When choosing a cruise line for your African cruise, several factors must be considered. Some cruise lines offer more luxurious experiences tailored to African cruises, while others focus on adventure and exploration throughout the African continent.

Consider the ports of call and the activities offered on board for African cruises. Some cruise lines offer excursions to African wildlife reserves and national parks, while others focus on cultural experiences and local African cuisine during their cruises.

Research the different cruise lines that specialize in African cruises and read reviews from past passengers to get an idea of what to expect. Some famous cruise lines that offer African cruises include Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and Princess Cruises. Make sure to choose the one that aligns best with your vision for African cruises.

Packing Essentials

When packing for your African cruise, it’s essential to pack for the climate and activities you’ll be participating in.

Pack lightweight, neutral-colored clothing for a safari that will blend in with the environment. Pack sturdy shoes and a hat to protect yourself from the sun. Remember to bring insect repellent and sunscreen.

If you’re visiting the Indian Ocean islands, pack lightweight clothing, swimsuits, and sunscreen. Remember to bring a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.

For West Africa, pack lightweight clothing and comfortable shoes for exploring. Remember to bring insect repellent and sunscreen.

Pre and Post-Cruise Travel

When planning your African cruise, consider adding pre- or post-cruise travel. This will allow you to explore more of the region and experience local culture.

Some popular pre- or post-cruise destinations include Cape Town, South Africa; Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe; and Marrakech, Morocco.

Research the visa requirements and travel advisories for the countries you plan to visit, and plan your travel accordingly.

African Cruise Ports

Departure Port

If you plan to take an African cruise, you will likely depart from a European port, such as Barcelona or Rome. You will journey across the Mediterranean Sea and into the Atlantic Ocean from there. Some cruise lines also offer departures from ports in the Middle East, such as Dubai or Abu Dhabi.


Africa is a vast continent with many ports of call for cruise ships. Some of the most popular ports include:

Casablanca, Morocco: This bustling city is a feast for the senses and one of the busiest ports along the coastline. It boasts European charm with Moroccan tradition and is the country’s commercial center and largest population center.

Casablanca Morocco port

Cape Town, South Africa: This picturesque city boasts stunning views of Table Mountain and is a gateway to the Cape Winelands and other scenic areas.

Cape Town South Africa

Mombasa, Kenya: This port city is a gateway to Kenya’s wildlife reserves and national parks, such as the Masai Mara and Amboseli.

Cape Town South Africa 1

Seychelles: This group of islands in the Indian Ocean is a popular stop for cruise ships. The ports of Praslin and Mahe offer refreshing landscapes and stunning beaches.


Mauritius: This island nation is known for its beautiful beaches, lush forests, and exotic wildlife. Port Louis is the main port of call for cruise ships.


Other ports of call for African cruises include Dakar, Senegal; Durban, South Africa; and Zanzibar, Tanzania. Some cruise lines also offer stops in remote areas, such as the islands of Madagascar and Comoros. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Did you know?

African cruises often offer the unique opportunity to cross the Equator. Passengers may even participate in a fun ceremony known as the “Crossing the Line” ceremony, where they are initiated into the “Order of the Shellbacks” or “Order of the Neptune.” It’s a playful and memorable maritime tradition with various activities and costumes, adding a touch of fun and adventure to the cruise experience.

Explore more wild and exciting cruises: Cruises to Cuba, Cruises to Costa Rica, Cruises to Puerto Rico

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