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Asia/Africa / Africa Cruises Cruises / South Africa

Cruises to Cape Town

Cruises timetable and data for this port of call

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Cape Town main data and map

The cityscape of Cape Town reflects a history rich in contrasts: governors and slaves, reformers and missionaries, empire builders and ordinary people who became extraordinary role models for a new democratic nation. Beside soaring modern blocks of glass and steel in the city centre, historic buildings - preserved and restored to their former glory - bear testimony to this past. The oldest existing building in South Africa, the Castle was built in 1666 to protect the new settlement at the Cape. Still operational as a military base, today its five imposing stone walls also house a museum with artifacts dating back to the 17th century and troops dressed in historic uniform parade on its cobbled grounds. Nearby, across the Grand Parade, stand the Drill Hall and Cape Town's Italian Renaissance-style City Hall, completed in 1905. The Slave Lodge, the second oldest building in Cape Town, has served many purposes in its nearly three centuries. Originally built as accommodation for the slaves of the Dutch East India Company, it was also Cape Town's first post office, a library and the Supreme Court. Today it is home to the SA Cultural History Museum and its displays of ceramics, toys, silver and textiles from Cape Town's past, as well as artifacts from ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. The historic Company Gardens, established by Jan van Riebeeck in 1652 as a vegetable garden from which to supply fresh produce to passing ships, today offers city dwellers and office workers a peaceful refuge from the bustle of the city's commercial centre. A cobbled avenue, lined with oak trees, leads to the South African Museum, the South African National Gallery, the Bertram House Museum and the Jewish Museum, which is housed in the oldest synagogue in South Africa. Just beyond, South Africa's Parliament buildings stand in imposing array around the cobbles of Stal Plein («plein» meaning «square»). Numerous other buildings of historic interest, such as Koopman de Wet House in Strand Street, Heritage Square in Bree Street, and many along the upper reaches of Long Street, are dotted throughout the city centre. Situated on the lower slopes of Signal Hill, the Bo-Kaap (literally «upper Cape») is home to many descendants of the Malay slaves brought to the Cape during the 17th century. Most of the families which inhabit its colourful rows of houses are devout Muslims, and the call to prayer can be heard in the narrow, cobbled streets throughout the day. The Bo-Kaap Museum portrays aspects of Cape Muslim culture. Robben Island is, after Alcatraz, possibly the best known prison island in the world. Having served over the centuries as a penal settlement, leper colony and lunatic asylum, its notoriety has, more recently, centred around the fact that President Nelson Mandela and many of his colleagues were imprisoned here during the apartheid era. Regular trips are made to the island, a world heritage site, by a ferry which departs from the V&A Waterfront. National monuments such as Onze Molen, along with Mostert's Mill in Mowbray one of the few original windmills still extant in the Cape Town area, and numerous old churches in Durbanville and Parow, reflect the origins of some of the early settlers in the Tygerberg area. Set in landscaped gardens, Rust-en-Vrede Cultural Centre in Durbanville - an old Cape Dutch complex dating back to 1850 - originally served as a prison, Drostdy (magistrates court), school and, ultimately, a private residence. Inside, creations by prominent South Africans are on exhibition in the Durbanville Clay Museum. A few kilometres away in Khayelitsha, the Mayibuye Centre Museum reflects the political turbulence and memorabilia of the apartheid era. Somerset West, in the Helderberg region, boasts many buildings and artifacts from South Africa's diverse cultural past. These include Vergelegen, built in 1700 by Governor Willem Adriaan van der Stel, the Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk built in 1820 (where «Onze Jan» Hofmeyer and other prominent South Africans are buried), the old bridge over the Lourens River built in 1845, the coachman's cottage and the Ou Pastorie and, at the Macassar Kramat, the last resting place of Sheikh Yusuf, who was brought to South Africa as a slave and introduced Islam, today one of the Cape's major religions - to the area. The historic farms in the Oostenberg countryside, dating back to the 18th century, serve as a reminder of the area's agricultural heritage. Many of these fine examples of early Cape Dutch architecture, such as Zevenwacht, Hazendal and Mooiplaas Wine Estates, are still operating wine farms, producing outstanding vintages for South Africa's thriving wine industry. Other, less imposing though no less important souvenirs of the area's rich history include the historic milestone in Van Riebeeck Road, Kuilsriver (now on display in the entrance hall to the Municipal Building), which once marked the distance on the road from Cape Town to what, in the late 17th century, was a cattle-post near the convergence of the Kuils and Bottleray Rivers Just beyond the row of stately palms that marks the entrance to Milnerton stands an old wooden bridge (1901) that, while no longer in use, still links Woodbridge Island to the mainland. A cast of the original Postal Stone can be seen at the library in Table View, and Ons Huisie Restaurant, a restored fisherman's cottage in Bloubergstrand, typifies the vernacular architectural style of this region. Further up the coast are the historic Moravian Mission Stations of Pella and Mamre with a church dating back to 1808, an old watermill, cook house, long house, shop and school. Built in 1685 for Simon van der Stel, then governor of the Cape, Groot Constantia is the oldest homestead in the Cape. Reflecting the gracious lifestyle of the late 18th century, the manor house incorporates priceless collections of exquisite Cape furniture from the mid-1800s as well as rare Chinese and Japanese porcelains and Delft ceramics. Situated along the False Bay Coast in the South Peninsula, the suburbs of Kalk Bay, St James and Muizenberg were fashionable seaside resorts during the early part of this century. Many of the beautiful residences in St James are, in fact, National Monuments, while Muizenberg is reputed to have been one of Rudyard Kipling's favourite places, and is where Cecil John Rhodes retired after the events leading up to the Anglo-Boer War. Period furniture and some of this extraordinary man's personal possessions may be viewed at Rhodes Cottage. Once a whaling station, Kalk Bay is now a working fishing harbour that reflects its cosmopolitan past in architecture, cuisine, arts and crafts.

Schedule for the upcoming cruises to Cape Town

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