Blow for Kenya as luxury cruise ship cancels its scheduled voyage to Mombasa

MS Albatros was the only cruise ship which had been booked to visit Mombasa this month, according to KPA calendar.

According to Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) principal corporate communications officer Haji Masemo, the cruise ship had been anticipated to arrive at the port of Mombasa on November 3 (Friday).

“We received information from the ship agent that MS Albatros had withdrawn its scheduled trip to Mombasa. No reasons were given for the cancellation,” the KPA official said.

“Normally, the cruise tourism season begins in November and ends in March, the following year. At the moment, we don’t have any cruise ship bookings for this season,”  he explained.

MS Albatros, a cruise ship operated by a Germany-based travel agency Phoenix Reisen can carry up to 830 passengers.

Since August 8th the Kenyan economy has taken a beating with many sector players crying foul and counting losses

Kenya travel agents association has warned the sector would lose as much as Sh3billion ($28m) before the end of the year.

While MS Albatros did not provide its reason for shying away from Kenya during its peak season the cancellation may have been occasioned by the country’s political stalemate which has sometimes turned bloody and violent.

“The political heat does not augur well with tourism. Since the August 8 disputed General Election to date, the country has been hit by political stand-off. As a result, the wrangles have affected business,” Seafarers Assistance Programme coordinator Andrew Mwangura said

Mwangura has warned that unless the political stand-off is addressed, cruise ships might avoid Kenya for other African destinations such as Zanzibar,.

“The chaotic demonstrations which took place in Nyanza region and some parts of Nairobi might be taken lightly. But in overseas markets, it means Kenya is unsafe for holidays,” he added.

Mombasa County economy is highly dependable on tourism and as a result it is in real trouble in case of cancellation or travel advisories.

“In early 2000, cruise ships used to bring 40,000 tourists to Mombasa per season. But following pirate attacks in Somali waters, the ships kept off. It is only from 2015 that the ships came back,” he recalled.

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