Made up of more than 50 different countries, Africa is incredibly diverse. For travelers new to the continent, it can be cumbersome to plan a trip, making a cruise one of the best and most practical options for exploring its coastal areas.
But, because voyages to Africa are often world cruise segments that call on other continents like Europe, Asia, Australia or even North America, itineraries can be long, meaning Africa sailings are ideal for cruisers who are retired or who have lots of vacation time.
Nature and wildlife spotting are among the most popular activities for visitors to Africa. Many cruises offer the option to add on pre- or post-cruise land tours that have safari excursions in Kenya (Mombasa) and South Africa (Durban).
If that's not up your alley, you can lie on the beach in the Seychelles (Mahe), check out the Namibian desert via Walvis Bay, explore the rainforests of Madagascar during a call on Nosy Be, sip some vino in wine country outside of Cape Town in South Africa, shop the bustling markets of Mozambique's Maputo or experience Zulu dancing and drumming in Durban, South Africa.
Africa is large, and the geography and climates can vary, making it difficult to pinpoint the best time to go. However, the weather is usually warm, and the cruise season there generally runs from October to May, with sailings departing from South Africa seeing the most traffic in December and January.
Many African cruise itineraries focus on South African ports, with the majority of voyages connecting South Africa with coastal southeast Africa. (Think Kenya and Mozambique.) Additionally, they might include fabled Indian Ocean destinations like Mauritius and Madagascar.
There are also voyages that focus exclusively on these African islands, as well as the Seychelles to the north. Or, if Africa's west coast is more to your liking, you could choose a cruise that includes calls on Senegal, Ghana, Namibia or the Cape Verde Islands.
The most popular departure ports on the African continent are Cape Town and Durban, both in South Africa. Outside of Africa, common departure ports can include Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Mumbai (India) and Southampton (United Kingdom).
Here are our best tips for finding a cheap cruise or cruise deal to Africa. If you book a “guaranteed cabin” (they select for you), a cabin on a lower deck or sail on an older ship from a brand you like, then you can get the best price for a specific cruise to Africa. Last minute cruises deals to Africa appear as you get closer to the sail date, usually 1-2 weeks in advance. Taking a cruise to Africa in the shoulder season (before or after the peak season) can also be a great way to find a cruise deal.