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Uncover the beauty of South Africa with a cruise & stay safari vacation

South Africa cruises are something of a bucket list trip, with vacationers able to get close to the Big Five on safari land excursions and admire the country’s coastline at sea. Here’s what to expect.

South Africa cruise and safari vacations are the ultimate way to make the most of a getaway to this incredible country.

Explore multiple destinations from the comfort of your ship and enjoy time on land watching some of the world’s most fascinating wildlife on a safari pre- or post-sailing.

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) is one cruise line which offers voyages around South Africa’s beautiful coastline and thanks to cruise and stay vacation booked via travel agent Iglu Cruise you’ll get the best of both worlds without any extra effort on your part – it’s all organized for you, with return flights packaged in.

We’ve taken a peek at an NCL cruise to South Africa to find out what globetrotters can expect both out on the water and on terra firma.

South Africa cruises - stay


Your 17-night cruise onboard Norwegian Dawn will begin with a three-night stay at a four-star Cape Town hotel. There are countless things to see and do in the famous city but there are some highlights you should be sure to tick off during your time in Cape Town, and this itinerary should help.

What to do in Cape Town in three days

Day 1:

Table Mountain: Ride a cable car up to the top of Table Mountain for stunning views of the city and coastline.
Bo-Kaap: Visit the colorful neighborhood of Bo-Kaap, known for its brightly painted houses and rich Cape Malay culture.
V&A Waterfront: Spend the afternoon exploring the V&A Waterfront, a bustling hub of shops, restaurants and entertainment.

Day 2:

Robben Island: Take a ferry to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years. Be sure to join a guided tour to learn about the island’s history and significance.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden: Visit the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, known for its diverse plant life and beautiful setting at the foot of Table Mountain.
Camps Bay: While away the evening at this trendy beachfront area with plenty of restaurants and bars.

Day 3:

Cape of Good Hope: Opt for a scenic drive down to the Cape of Good Hope, the southwesternmost point of the African continent and stop at Boulders Beach to see the resident penguin colony.
Constantia Wine Route: You can’t come to South Africa and not drink! Enjoy an afternoon exploring the Constantia Wine Route, home to some of South Africa’s best wineries and tasting rooms.
Long Street: Settle in for the evening on Long Street, known for its vibrant nightlife and diverse array of restaurants and bars.

Other itinerary highlights on this NCL cruise to South Africa include Richards Bay and Walvis Bay. The former is a city on a lagoon on the east coast of South Africa where the Mhlatuze River meets the Indian Ocean.

Surrounded by natural beauty, Richards Bay’s lagoon and nearby wetlands house a variety of bird species, while the nearby Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park is one of the oldest game reserves in South Africa, with a glut of wildlife including elephants, lions and rhinos.

Want to simply laze? The spot has several beaches that are popular with tourists and locals alike; Alkantstrand Beach is a Blue Flag beach with lifeguards and facilities for swimming and surfing and Tuzi Gazi Waterfront has a variety of restaurants and bars.

South Africa cruise port of call Walvis Bay takes you over to the neighboring country of Namibia on Africa’s southwest coast. The bay is situated on a lagoon hosting a plethora of bird species, including flamingos, pelicans and cormorants. Anyone looking to get active will relish nearby Namib-Naukluft National Park, a popular destination for hiking and desert tours.

Fancy some sport out on the water? Kite surfing, windsurfing and sandboarding are all popular here, with lessons and rental equipment available to vacationers. Or perhaps you’d rather sample the fruits of the sea without getting in? Fresh seafood is available in the city’s many restaurants so tuck in with gusto!

South Africa cruises - safari


South Africa has become the go-to destination for travelers looking to enjoy a safari experience and get up close to the Big Five – African elephants, lions, leopards, Cape buffalo and rhinoceros -as well as many other animals such as giraffes, zebras, hippos and cheetahs.

With a surplus of safari camps available it can be hard to know where to start when planning a vacation, but cruises to South Africa with NCL and Iglu take out this tricky part for you.

Your Cape Town stay before your South Africa cruise will be followed by a safari at Aquila Game Reserve just two hours outside the city. The 10,000-hectare conservancy is situated between the Langeberg and the Outeniqua Mountains in the Western Cape, with game drives offered on traditional safari vehicles, horseback or quad bikes.

On safari here, guests can enjoy a wide diversity of wildlife and natural Karoo beauty with the opportunity to capture stunning wildlife photos. Elephants, lions, buffalo, rhinos and leopards as well as a significant amount of other wild game all roam freely on the reserve making for a truly unique and unforgettable experience.

You’re guaranteed a scenic backdrop to all the prowling, mating, and feasting you might see en route too – the South African landscape is breathtakingly beautiful, with vast grasslands, rolling hills and dense forests.

Still not convinced? Take it from the stars – past guests have included everyone from Margret Thatcher and Rihanna to Katie Holmes and MC Hammer!

There are oodles of opportunities to relax at Aquila Game Reserve, it has a large swimming pool with a poolside bar along with large dedicated dining areas and an African-style restaurant that serves local cuisine and traditional South African dessert. There’s even a spa!

South Africa cruises - sail

At sea

Of course there’s relaxation aplenty (and more besides) back on your NCL ship, Norwegian Dawn, for those on cruises to South Africa.

Along with its own spa, the vessel boasts a casino, a fitness centre and several pools and hot tubs to keep cruisers busy. There are also plenty of family-friendly activities, including a kids’ club and a video arcade.

After more entertainment? Expect live music, Broadway-style shows and more, plus there’s always fun to be had at the bars and lounges on board.

You won’t go hungry either, Norwegian Dawn has 14 dining options, comprising complimentary restaurants, casual eateries and speciality dining options such as Moderno Churrascaria, Le Bistro and Teppanyaki.

As for where you’ll rest your head when the day is done, Norwegian Dawn has a variety of staterooms to choose from, including inside cabins, oceanview cabins, balcony cabins, and suites. What’s more, all rooms are equipped with a flat-screen TV, mini-fridge and a private bathroom.

Last but not least, the good news is that with this South Africa cruise you’ll get NCL’s Free at Sea package thrown in which makes the cruise all-inclusive. The upgrade includes: a premium beverage package, speciality dining package, Wi-fi package and shore excursion credit per port (for guests one and two) so you’ll definitely get that VIP feeling. Lions aren’t the only kings around here!

Published 04.28.23