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The V&A Waterfront is an iconic Cape Town attraction, so much so that it feels as if it has always been there. Which, in a sense, it has, but certainly not like the vibrant entity it is today. When Cape Town is spoken of by tourists, the V&A gets the same sort of recognition as Table Mountain and Clifton Beach: it is a must-visit place. At over 123 hectares, it covers an extensive amount of land around the Cape Town harbour, and visitors need to put aside enough time if they want to see it all.
The V&A, for those who don’t know, stands for Victoria and Alfred Waterfront (not Albert, as is a common mistake.) Alfred, Queen Victoria’s second son, was the first member of the Royal Family to visit the Cape as a midshipman aboard the HMS Euryalus in 1860, and this caused quite a stir at the time. The first basin of the then Navy Yard was named after him as he tipped the first load of rubble to start off construction of the breakwater, and the second basin, with due deference, was named after his mother. For the following century or so, these basins served as the Atlantic gateway to the Cape until the harbour was forced to expand to accept the increased flow of shipping around the Cape, not to mention somewhat larger vessels. The Ben Schoeman and Duncan Docks were constructed at the end of the reclaimed foreshore, and a later container basin gave the harbour its latest foray into Table Bay.
But it’s the V&A Waterfront we are concentrating on, and not only because it’s the home of Waterfront Charters: it is also a continually burgeoning assortment of working harbour, historical sites, shopping precincts, gourmet restaurants, very upmarket homes, lifestyle centres and tourist attractions. If you have a spare ten million or so (and counting), you can purchase a smallish apartment overlooking the marina, but for the less well-heeled, daily visitations are the way to go. Twenty-five million visitors do so annually, and all leave feeling overwhelmed by the majesty (pun intended) of the V&A.
Waterfront Charters have been around since the early nineties, so can justifiably claim to be one of the mainstays in the environment. We, too, have grown, and now our seven wonderful boats are an integral part of the scene and can be seen gracefully floating at their moorings between cruises. For all visitors, we have a sound recommendation: the best possible way to experience the V&A is by taking a harbour cruise. Our trawler-based boat, Southern Cross is perfect. A double-decker, giving the option of sun or shade, she gives perfect views of everything the harbour has to offer, and with refreshments (both alcoholic and non-) on tap, foot-weary guests can take it all in while they sip a restoring drink aboard a vessel that is at home in the V&A basins as it is in the Atlantic
You’ll see everything the V&A has to offer, old and new: from seals to ships, historical buildings and restored silos; vibrant shopping centres pulsing with life, busy boats plying their paths, all with Table Mountain looming majestically over the scene. Whether you are planning your day or completing it, a Waterfront Charters Harbour Cruise is the perfect way to get your bearings, me hearties. Step aboard!